Many of the federal laws concerning reconstruction led to the strengthening of the federal government at the expense of the states. These new laws often placed significant restrictions on state actions on the ground that the rights of national citizenship took precedence over the powers of state governments leading to an increase in sectional bitterness, an intensification of the racial issue, and the development of one-party politics in the South. Stemming from this infringement of states rights and intensified by the election of 1868 was another negative outcome. Fierce activities were stirred up by groups such as the KKK- violence became prominent, and terrorists and mobs attacked many people- mostly Republicans and blacks. The end of slavery brought new expectations for all African Americans, whether they had been slaves or not. Taking advantage of the new choices that freedom opened, they tried to create independent lives for themselves, and they developed social institutions that helped to define black communities.
African Americans also expected political and economic equality. Few were able to acquire land of their own- a significant constraint on their economic choices- and most became either wage laborers or sharecroppers. Having no land, no tools, and no money, the freed slaves had only their personal labor to sell. Most white southerners expected to keep African Americans in a subordinate role through black codes and violence, and these things also posed a major constraint for the free slaves. Though freedom did not come to all slaves at the same time or in the same way, in the end, the outcome of Reconstruction failed to fulfill most African Americans expectations for freedom and equality.
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