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What were the concerns in the North once the slaves were freed?


Concerns surrounding freed slaves varied among Northerners. Many, particularly recent Irish immigrants, worried that freedmen would move to Northern cities and compete with them for jobs. These fears lay behind some Northern opposition to emancipation. After the war was over, political leaders and others in the North debated the meaning of freedom as it related to former slaves in the South. Some Democrats asserted that federal obligations to freedmen extended no further than ending slavery. Other moderates supported some federal action to promote education and to assist former slaves in transitioning to free labor status. So-called "radical" Republicans advocated a robust federal role in securing equality for African-Americans in the South. Their plan included full suffrage for black men, which was established by the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. It also included the division of the South into military districts, each of which would be charged with providing assistance in securing equality for African-Americans. Only a very few radicals, most of whom had been abolitionists before the war, pushed for land redistribution to benefit the millions of landless slaves. The vast majority of Northerners assumed that blacks would enter into wage labor. These varying concerns about African-American issues contributed to the intense divisions that characterized politics during the Reconstruction era.

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