The Antebellum period had a huge impact on the free African American people. The Antebellum period is the time that is pre-Civil War and post-War of 1812. The United States was expanding to a more powerful nation and slavery was the biggest industry in their economy. During this period of time, African Americans had to deal with many obstacles/adversities as free blacks in all regions of the United States. The regions known as, in the northern, upper south, deep south, and far west regions of the United States was where the free African American encountered different and similar situations and experiences.
Throughout history the north always was known as the first region that freed slaves. The northern states didn’t us the same economic methods as the southern states and the far west. They adopted a new way of making money. According to The African American Odyssey, “Between 1860, a market revolution transformed the north into a modern industrial society. ” This new method changed economy for the north until present day. This was a new age of industry and the production of factories. Slavery was not needed as much as the southern states where they had good sun to cultivate and profit from crops such as cotton.
Even though this new method lightened the idea of slavery in the north, the freedom for blacks was still limited. Whites did not want to deal with blacks so they enforced new black laws in which resulted in the segregation of school, communities and any other public uses. Free black men had limited voting rights where they barely had any rights to vote. Most of all these black laws impacted the employment level to a low gradient for the free blacks in the north. This battle for employment had many negative impacts on free Black’s ways of life.
Families were tarnished under the pressure of providing for their families with the scarcity of jobs. They enforced fugitive slave law where the white slave masters can hunt and recapture runaway slaves from the south. This made life difficult and filled the free blacks with fear because they were more prone to be wrongfully enslaved. Like the south the whites did not want to deal with blacks whatsoever. Irish immigrants were taking all the jobs away from the blacks many blacks had unskilled jobs such as being barbers and shoemakers.
The free African American upper south region did have similar experiences as the north but much more were different. Though they shared similar churches family businesses and fraternities the upper south was still separated by the idea of slavery and the different economic methods. The impact of slavery created different communities. The free blacks in the north lived with other free Blacks while in the upper south; the free Blacks lived with slaves. The fugitive slave laws had a bigger impact on the upper south than the north. The free black was definitely more prone to be enslaves.
Many sheriffs would harass and arrest free blacks randomly on profiling them as runaway slaves. They did have a tool known as free papers that was proof for their freedom. But these papers were useless most of the time because they constantly had to be renewed. These free papers impacted the everyday life of African Americans because they had to make sure that their papers weren’t stolen, lost, or tarnished. The free Blacks had fewer freedoms. They could not vote at all and they had problems going outside at night. They could not congregate in groups and had no rights to bear arms.
Life as a free Black person was tougher than the north because of the low employment rates downgraded again due to the Irish immigrants taking their jobs. Their jobs were different during the antebellum period. Many people were maids and servants and washers. Upper south institutions where tarnished and almost did not exist. Black churches were overran by white ministries and left the black ministers with no opportunities to practice on their careers. Schools were almost absent. They were low funded whereas many blacks in the upper south were left uneducated.
There were no schools and no jobs which gave success to the whites on preventing the advancement of the free blacks. Unlike the north and the upper south, the Deep South barely had any free blacks despite the fact that the population of African Americans in the Deep South was enormous. There were many incidents of racial mixing with slave owners and the female slaves. Diversity was there but slavery still kept their children enslaved. They usually had a choice to buy their way out of slavery. Many of the free slaves did not have their own separate identity from the white slave owners.
Many of the free blacks were just like the whites. They were accepted in the churches. Many wealthy free blacks were educated due to the establishment of private schools. Unlike the north and the Upper South, they had better skilled jobs such as carpentry and tailors. Many whites began to overlook the success of the free African American In the Deep South and made it even more impossible to live. Unlike the North, Upper South, and the Deep South, the Far West absolutely did not want anything to do with free Blacks. The black laws in the Far West were made to ban all free Blacks from settling in their region.
The Gold Rush of 1849 resulted in the migration of many White and free Black men to settle out west in states like California and Oregon. The Far west was known to be more multicultural and have multicultural communities. Many blacks had the same jobs of that the free Blacks from the regions had except for the gold mining. Many Blacks prospered from gold. Slavery was a huge propaganda in the upper south and the whole south in general. It was a reality that all African American whether free or enslaved could not avoid.
The northern states were gradually enhancing their advancement in the idea of acceptance and coexistence with the Whites in the US. The north had at least a bit of a head start for the search of equality in the U. S. The conditions of living might have been similar and different in many ways but this time all came to an end once the fugitive slave laws were enhanced. Many free African Blacks were enslaved and wrongfully accused to be slaves. The new laws were undisputed and changed the Blacks’ idea of freedom and fight for equality Work Cited Hine D, The African American Odyssey (2011). Combined Volume, 5th Edition. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
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