"This is a White Man's Government." Cartoon by Thomas Nast. Harper's Weekly, September 5, 1868. Reproduced collection New-York Historical Society.
Triumph in the Civil War provided many prizes for New Yorkers. Businessmen, freed of groveling to southern politicians, expanded their mastery of the nation's economy. New York's Democratic politicians, freed of opposing Washington statesmen and generals, extended their control of municipal affairs. Their politics rested on two pillars — patronage jobs for supporters and a renewed appeal to anti-black prejudice.

Black New Yorkers achieved goals unimaginable a generation earlier. The Thirteenth Amendment to the federal constitution ended 250 years of slavery in North America. The Fourteenth Amendment provided the legal tools, over the long run, to guarantee equal benefits of citizenship for black Americans. And the Fifteenth Amendment finally forced New York State to lift its 50-year-old discrimination against black voters. But racial prejudice remained deeply ingrained in the city of New York.

To see a video of Dartmouth professor Craig Wilder discussing Reconstruction, click here.

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Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

— The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed by Congress January 31, 1865, ratified December 6, 1865.

"A Man Knows a Man." Harper's Weekly, April 22, 1865. Collection New-York Historical Society.