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Mafileo Tupou
Professor McEnaney
History 207
9/16/14
Primary Source Analysis
1. A man named Carl Schurz created this primary source. Based on the document he
seemed to be a journalist during the reconstruction of the South. Although he talks
about reconstructing the South, to bring it in harmony with the rest of American
society, I believe that Schurz was for the betterment of the South. Carl Schurz was a
strong advocate for free labor, but he argued that the South would not cooperate
with the North if the troops maintained in the South and if the Freedmens Bureau
was not abolished, Hence their anxiety to have their (South) State governments
restored at once, to have the troops withdrawn, and the Freedmens Bureau
abolished it would be far better for them to have the general order of society
firmly maintained by the federal power until things have arrived at a final
settlement. Schurz claimed an important step to reconstruction in the South was to
restore the damaged society due to the aftermath of the Civil War.
2. This document is telling me how chaotic it was in the immediate post-Civil War era.
After the Civil War, government was having a hard time just deciding how much
control they should have upon the defeated South. Schurz believed that less
government control in the South would make the process of reconstruction a lot
faster and more effective. The concept of power seemed to be a main focal point in
that time and age. Questions such as: how much power should the federal
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government have on the state governments and how much control should the
federal government have on free labor lingered among the government officials, the
Southern farmers, and the slaves as well. African Americans after the war celebrated
their freedom and expected a lot more than just the abolition of slavery. Although
blacks in America were legally free and considered citizens of America, the constant
debate of free labor demonstrates that they were still considered property. The only
difference was that they had rights.
3. A big concept that comes to mind after reading Schurzs report is the definition of
freedom. Even though the source is about the reconstruction of the South and the
application of free labor and not necessarily freedom, everyones opinion on how
the country should go about reconstruction is based on that very idea. In Foner, the
author claims that many of the problems during the reconstruction period were
because of the different definitions of freedom, Although the freed people failed
to achieve full freedom as the understood it, their ongoing struggles to define the
meaning of freedom did much to shape the nations political and social agenda
during Reconstruction (81). Many white southerners believed that slaves were
unprepared for freedom, which stated that African Americans were still not
human. Vice versa, emancipated slaves thought they were well due of freedom and
the rights that came with it. Carl Schurzs demand for free labor without the control
of the federal government brought the question of whether the South would just
return to its old ways (slavery). The abolition of slave just made freedom a national
policy, and not a born given right, The legal abolition of slavery posed the
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definition of freedom as a concrete matter of national policy, rather than simply a
philosophical problem or matter of political theory (Foner 82). This idea clearly
displays why the South continues to fight for free labor in order to amend the
physical, political, and economical damage from the Civil War.
4. Schurzs document makes me realize how difficult and complicated the
Reconstruction of American was. In that period there were so many different ways
to go about rebuilding the country. Schurz, heavily South influenced, said that free
labor with less control from the federal government was the best process of
reconstruction the South. But was it necessary for him to rid of the Freedmans
Bureau? A group which protects the well-being of freed slaves? I see a lot of racist
connotation in his theories and I believe if the country were to go about in his
direction, then the Civil War would have been fought for nothing. The mere fact that
he did not even think about what sex-slaves thought about free labor shows me his
lack of interest of their well-being.