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Internet Lessons for Learning About Reconstruction

Reconstruction of the South:
Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again (A Problem-based Lesson)

You are living in 1876, a time of great crisis for America. Many Reconstruction Plans have been tried, but most seem to have created as many problems as they solve. A major financial recession is underway and the presidential election results between Hayes and Tilden are disputed in three Southern states, Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. You and your group have been selected and hired to write a compromise that provides for civil liberties and is accepted by the majority population. You have the power to make a difference and make America a better place for all. Be persuasive. Be creative. Standard 8.11.1 and 8.11.5

Buffalo Soldiers
Using the Internet and other sources, research the life of the Buffalo Soldiers and the contribution they made to final American settlement in the West. Write a folksong that uses these ideas and evaluate it based on a class-developed rubric. Standard 8.11.2

Forgotten Heroes: Buffalo Soldiers
Your job is to publish a written or electronic textbook, looking at some of the important points in the Buffalo Soldiers history. You will need to learn a few new jobs to complete your assignment such as author, historian, and cartographer. Or, you may "get into your work" by taking on the role of a Buffalo Soldier in 1870's or one in the 1900's. Each job has certain functions and duties that will be addressed in more detail when you enlist. Some sites inside the WebQuest are dead. This WebQuest supports the book The Forgotten Heroes: the Story of the Buffalo Soldiers by Clinton Cox. Standard 8.11.2

Freedman's Bureau: Labor Contract or Re-enslavement?
Thousands of African Americans who had left the plantations for the cities when freedom came soon found themselves homeless and hungry. Early in 1866, the freedmen began to return to the land for spring planting. At first they worked for the promise of wages at rates agreed upon at the start of the year. The Freedmen's Bureau required labor contracts to be entered into by blacks and their employers, but did not set wage levels. In a near-cashless society, money wages were soon discontinued, to be replaced by sharecropping arrangements. The standard contract gave the black laborer a share of the crop according to how much of the expenses of production he paid. Only for a brief period did the Freedmen's Bureau offer some economic shelter for the ex-slaves. The sharecropping system that evolved during Reconstruction soon bound most African Americans into debt so ruinous that they were practically re-enslaved. Standard 8.11.1 and 8.11.3

How Should They Be Remembered?
Evaluating the Lives and Legacies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois

By what standards should we judge people from the past? Do we hold them to the standards of our day or of theirs? Should we take into account their backgrounds and circumstances or hold up everyone to the same standards? These are some of the questions you will have to consider as you look back at the lives and legacies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. These two men both wanted to help uplift African-Americans from the wreckage of Reconstruction and the ravages of racism. During their careers, both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois took up the issue of education for African-Americans. You will be looking at their lives and their writings and deciding for yourselves how you think these two men should be remembered. Standards 8.11.1, 8.11.3, and 11.10.1

Rights and Responsibilities in History: African Americans and Visions of Freedom
Since the 1960s, historians have come to recognize the critical role African Americans played in both envisioning and creating a new nation after the Civil War. Black men were active members of the Republican Party. They voted in great numbers. They organized political campaigns. They held offices that ranged from the governorship of Louisiana to the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. Black men wrote laws, sat on juries, judged cases. Black women too participated in the making of freedom. They fought for their rights as street vendors in Southern cities. They too attended political rallies and on occasion marched in political parades. Together, black men and women fought to institute systems of public education for their children, to provide medical care to the poor, to worship freely in churches of their choice. More recently, historians have begun to discover that although black men and women shared certain aspects of their visions of freedom, they just as often understood themselves to have different responsibilities and different rights under the new order. Learn about these differing perspectives and why they existed. Standards 8.11.1 and 8.11.2

Segregated America
After the Civil War, millions of formerly enslaved African Americans hoped to join the larger society as full and equal citizens. The promise of freedom held the hope of self-determination, educational opportunities, and full rights of citizenship. Between 1865 and 1875, Congress passed a series of civil rights acts, and the nation adopted three constitutional amendments intended to ensure freedom and full citizenship for all black Americans. The 13th Amendment (1865) abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment (1868) extended “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens. The 15th Amendment (1870) guaranteed that the right to vote could not be denied “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” When Reconstruction ended in the 1870s, however, most white politicians abandoned the cause of protecting the rights of African Americans in the name of healing the wounds between the North and the South. In the former Confederacy and neighboring states. Evaluate primary source documents and photos at the Smithsonian site to learn about segregation and its effects. Standards 8.11.3, 8.11.4, 8.11.5, and 11.5.2.

Slavery: Point of View of Former Slaves
Here is your chance to be an amateur historian as you read and analyze oral accounts of slavery form those who lived it. These oral histories were done in the 1930's as part of the Federal Writer's Project. Standards 8.7.2, 8.9.6 and 8.11.3

Webquest on Freedman's Village
The year is 1863 and the Civil War is still raging between the Union and the Confederacy. Thousands of African Americans are coming into the nation's capital as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation. The camps in Washington DC are becoming overcrowded and disease is widespread. The city does not have enough work for all of the newly freed people of color. To solve some of these problems in the camps in the District, a new camp called Freeman's Village was established in 1863 as a model camp and was located across the Potomac on the land of the Arlington Estate.

You are a Northern philanthropist whose home is Boston. You belong to one of many benevolent and charitable organizations, which shows interest in helping in the South. You are coming south to Arlington, to evaluate the effectiveness of Freedman's Village that is located there. Your organization is prepared to give financial aid, volunteers if needed, and other types of help to the newly freed slaves who reside in the village. Standard 8.11.1

Unfinished Business: Making Democracy Work for Everyone, 1877-1904
The post Reconstruction South witnessed a number of changes in society that helped to improve the conditions of its people; however, there were a number of practices based on race and skin color that hindered the South's growth as a region in this republic. The results of such practices were to relegate a number of its people to the status of second-class citizens in spite of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. These amendments were, for the most part, undermined by politicians of the South, along with the Civil Rights Cases of 1883 and the decision of Plessey v. Ferguson of 1896. These particular events inspired southern legislators to enact segregation laws that were complex, detailed, and unfair. Thus, the movement to eliminate poverty, racism, and inequality continued to be an ongoing and vexing problem as the nation entered the twentieth century. Standard 8.11.2 and 11.2.2

Race and Voting in the Segregated South
The most basic right of a citizen in a democracy is the right to vote. Without this right, people can be easily ignored and even abused by their government. This, in fact, is what happened to African American citizens living in the South following Civil War Reconstruction. Despite the 14th and 15th amendments guaranteeing the civil rights of black Americans, their right to vote was systematically taken away by white supremacist state governments. Read and discuss the issues of voting rights in the South from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement. Standard 8.11.5 and 11.10.6

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