The Confederate Congress was not very concerned with the rights of African Americans, and this is shown by the passage of laws that were meant to limit their freedom.
One law that exemplifies this limitation was the “Twenty Negro Law,” which stated that only landowning black people who had at least twenty slaves could vote.
The law angered many white southerners because it allowed for some privileged black people to gain voting power.
After it was enacted in 1862, white southerners refused to adhere to it and set out on protests of their own, demanding that they too should be able to vote on behalf of freedmen.
The Confederates ignored these protests and continued to enforce the “Twenty Negro Law.”
Since the law did not specify required conditions for freedmen to gain voting power, some blacks were also able to vote, but it is likely that only a few of them were actually allowed to vote since many southerners considered them too insignificant.
This enraged the white southerners who had previously been forced out of seats by affluent black people. They were furious about having lost their political powers and felt slighted by the black people whom they believed to be in collusion with the government.
This was one of the first attempts made by the Southern Confederacy to limit civil rights for blacks.
However, even though it was a significant blow against black people, it still did not inhibit their determination to gain equal rights from the government.
In fact, even though many blacks were still denied voting power, many of those who were able to vote successfully cast their votes in favor of emancipation from slavery.
In addition to this, a few other laws enacted by the Confederate Congress effectively limited rights for blacks throughout the war and ensured that they would not be able to receive equal treatment from whites.
It was a constant battle between white southerners and liberated slaves throughout the Civil War over rights and equality.
Advantages of twenty negro law :
- The twenty-negro law was enacted because there were no uniform rules for how to determine whether or not a freedman was eligible to vote.
- It was not uncommon for the Confederates to pass laws that were meant to limit the rights of African Americans.
- This law allowed some people to gain voting power through property ownership, which is much more common in America than it is in Europe.
- The Confederacy actively opposed any attempts at emancipation by the North, especially if it would result in political liberalization of black people.
Disadvantages of twenty negro law :
- This law angered many white southerners who had already lost their political power to rich, recently freed African Americans.
- It made it possible for some black people to vote who were previously not allowed to do so.
- The Confederacy was already struggling with its decision to not offer full rights and privileges for blacks and this law only made things worse for them.
- Many whites, especially those who were against slavery, wanted everyone to be given the right to vote regardless of their race or social status.
This law would have made it more difficult for the Confederate government to create laws that were in the best interest of all citizens.
- The Confederacy already struggled with representing the interests of all people, since they had already alienated many African Americans.
This law would have likely not gotten much resistance from them since many were still unwilling to give up their rights and privileges.
What did black people think about this law?
Most black people felt strongly that they should be given equal rights and privileges and were not happy with the way this new law was enacted and enforced.
The law seemed like a slap in the face to many former slaves who felt that their hard work and sacrifice for the Confederate cause had been largely forgotten by whites.
Many African Americans were already angered by the fact that they could not be trusted with certain privileges because of their race, and this law just added to their frustration.
Many people perceived this law as a direct attack against efforts at equality and only made the Confederate government look bad.
Why then did slave owners support it?
Since most slave owners were still in favor of slavery, they likely felt that this new voting rule would give them a great deal more political power since many plantation owners had been forced from seats due to their economic status.
In addition to this, since voting power was based on the ownership of twenty or more slaves, it was thought that those who owned fewer slaves would be unable to cast any meaningful votes.