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Word Count: 996
The concept of freedom drove an entire nation to a Civil War which was arguably the bloodiest war this country has ever seen It set North against South nation against state and brother against brother Each group of individuals maintained an interpretation of freedom that was so powerful to them they were willing to die to preserve it However the definition of freedom was not easily pinpointed for each individual In fact Eric Foner in his book A Short History of Reconstruction did not specify a straightforward definition of freedom He could not grasp a direct meaning that would incorporate each groups personal beliefs towards the concept Furthermore Foner devoted an entire chapter to The Meaning of Freedom which he never conquered defining It is impossible to fully understand what is exactly incorporated into the definition of freedom without looking at it from the point of view of each group during the Reconstruction era However while the road to freedom would take different paths for the freedmen and plantation owners each group had the same destination in mind the ability to live autonomously For the freedmen the basic need to live autonomously was to escape the authority of the former slave owners and those persons who believed themselves to be superior because of their skin coloring There was a desire for independence from white control for autonomy both as individuals and as members of a community being transformed by emancipation Foner p 36 This independence included the ability to govern themselves own their own land reach economic autonomy and live day to day without the fear of violence against themselves or family In politics it was important to these newly freed slaves to be included in the institutions they were left out of for so many years Blacks wanted their equal rights to be recognized and bringing these concerns to the political floor was a way to let their opinions and needs be heard
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