Workshop #6: The Meaning of Reconstruction

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What does it mean to be free?

No – what does it really mean?

Freedom, as I discussed at the beginning of the semester, is the most mis-used word in American popular discourse. Everybody says that’s what America is about, but nobody bothers to actually define what freedom may look like, consider that different groups might have competing definitions of freedom, and that one person’s practice of freedom might restrict another person’s freedom.

For this last workshop we are considering a concrete moment when four million Americans engaged in a giant experiment about what freedom meant: recently freed enslaved persons after the Civil War. First you need to read the three documents


, and then participate in the discussion. Then, in a formal paper of about 500 words, answer the following questions:

Based on these documents, what did freedom mean to African Americans during reconstruction?

Your analysis must be based on evidence from these documents. Also remember this is a formal paper, so grammar, spelling, style and structure count. Your assignment must show a detailed understanding of all three documents, and your argument must build from your reading of those documents.

When writing your assignment, we aim to help you get an A, not just beat the deadline.

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