Life in North Carolina After the War
In the early years of Reconstruction, North Carolinians had staunchly professed their desire to rejoin the Union, as many citizens never actually supported the state’s participation in the Confederacy. Rather than urging their political representatives to submerge themselves into the offices of the federal government, North Carolinians demanded peace and harmony in hopes of rejoining their beloved Union. Furthermore, North Carolina citizens believed that the reliable “Union man, who is an honorable man, can do us more good now in legislating than one who was a prominent supporter of the Confederate cause.” (Item #2809) If not already obvious, the wellbeing of the state seemed most trusted in the hands of Unionists who thoroughly planned a course of action in the American South politically and culturally. Yet, with the sudden promotion of Andrew Johnson as new President of the United States, many southern democrats were intrigued by his similar political ideologies. In this sense, many southern whites felt Johnson better represented their interests by the war’s end. As W.J. Yates included in his publication of The Western Democrat, Governor Perry of South Carolina noted Johnson as “a much abler and firmer man than Lincoln” and that he is a southern slave holder “well acquainted with the institution.” (Item #2808) Furthermore, an address delivered in Washington by North Carolina democrat Charles Mason described President Johnson as “destined to repair and restore those cherished institutions which have been so fearfully shattered and seemingly overturned, and to receive the undying gratitude of a reunited country.” (Item #2810) Yet the recently freedmen of North Carolina had established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in order to suggest considerable means of black economic ascension. In 1865, simple claims were issued in Yates’ The Western Democrat pertaining to better work conditions, such as the right “to choose their own employers, and be paid for their labors,” (Item #2811). Nevertheless, these said employers also struggled to earn a living given the fact that much of their land had become too expensive to maintain without the high amounts of slave labor that the southern economy had grown dependent on. Despite the war’s end, North Carolina citizens still endured a division in ideologies, especially regarding the future of African Americans in white society.