In consequence of freeing these slaves however a majority of White Georgians took the idea of emancipation as provisional Many interpreted emancipation in that freed slaves would be limited to freedom purely as freed people of color These free people were simply those of any ethnic background particularly that of African American descent that had been granted freedom but not yet seen as equal members of society Georgians had assumed that white supremacy was still very much prevalent and there was little talk of the slaves possibly becoming fellow citizens Prior to this however slaveowners provided slaves less than adequate living and working conditions and would often commit heinous acts which would be deemed human rights violations in today s society Although unfortunate this stagnant period of time served as a brief respite from what they had previously endured But the case of Georgia was unique however in that it was the only ex Confederate state that did not immediately apply harsh regulations on freed blacks Although issues regarding labor were partially addressed by controversial but color blind laws regulations that weren t subject to specific ethnicities relating to vagrancy enticement and apprenticeship the freed slaves were granted what was known at the time as practical civil equality
This meant that they had access to the courts in being able to make and enforce contracts and the ability to sue others or be sued by others They had also gained property rights which meant they could buy sell and rent both land and personal property Nonetheless important rights were also denied with Northern Republicans arguing that it would endanger their wellbeing one being that blacks did not have the right to serve as jurors or to vote and they could by no means testify against whites in court This privilege was not granted to them until the ratification of the 14th Amendment 1868 The United States Congress which at the time had been dominated by Union sympathizers ratified several new laws to protect the freed slaves Besides the 13th Amendment which officially banned slavery in 1865 the 14th Amendment guaranteed all African Americans full citizenship They made the adoption of the 14th Amendment a necessary requirement before a state can be readmitted into the Union Within one and a half years seven of the states agreed to Congress demands among these being Georgia and had officially adopted the 14th amendment and its representatives were then readmitted into Congress Postwar Georgia despite having a large sum of its agriculture destroyed continued to depend on agriculture as the foundation of their economy and the main source of their income
The implements of work were the same as before the war After the war Georgia had originally had rural African Americans find work as tenants under white landowners However they were now able to exercise a sense of self reliance could conduct their own work hours and were able to appoint family members to work in the fields which was a form of freedom they had not experience before However early Reconstruction saw many African American women devoting more time towards providing education and care for their families and as a result chose to abstain from manual work on the field This however was widely chastised by plantation owners in that they did not receive the desired harvest However many Georgian women were able to send their children off to school and worked in the field while their children were away Regardless white landowners had complained of a drastic shortage of labor and argued that free labor could not be controlled as harshly aside slave labor prior to the war Another reason for labor shortage was due to the increase of urban cities during
Reconstruction overseen by the North which had offered more diverse and equal job opportunities for African Americans workers who in some cases were allowed into the main cities and have somewhat professional occupations But Georgia as well as the rest of the South had relied on agriculture as the main form of their economy When the time for harvesting crops had come plantations lacked the resource of slave labor and as a result had suffered in the early years after the war as they had been largely dependent on human labor The eventual output of crop had plummeted severely producing less than one tenth than it once had with slave labor Furthermore there had been a widespread rumor that emancipated slaves would be guaranteed land and property of their own Many slaves had left their plantations in order to follow General Sherman and his army to Savannah In an effort to help address this issue Sherman s proposed his Forty Acres and a Mule policy in which the conquered land would be confiscated and distributed among the slaves However this proved not only temporary but too idealistic and far fetched and the land was ultimately returned to its original Southern owners Sherman s plan had only provided a temporary sign of hope
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