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Abstract

The outcome of the Civil War brought freedom to over six million slaves of African descent. These Freedmen communities remained a critical source of labor for the agrarian based economy of the southern U.S. Conflicts erupted because former slaves sought to exercise their new freedoms against the restrictions placed on them by local authorities. New laws, mob actions and acts of organized white terrorism were used to subjugate free citizens and return them to their former stations of labor. Political activities and participation in the electoral process were violently discouraged. Vocal opponents of the new system were often targeted for murder along with their families. A vital component to this oppressive movement was a concerted effort among local southern governments to disarm African American citizens. Radical Republicans attempted to intercede with new laws based on 2nd amendment protections, but Northern indifference to the plight of former slaves made this politically futile. Unconstitutional firearm restrictions in the reconstruction south ensured that the subjugation of Freedmen would continue indefinitely. Without political agency, or the means of an organized community militia to generate such power, the realization of freedom and the rights of citizenship for African Americans remained unobtainable for nearly 100 years.

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