The participants in Reconstruction fully understood that contests over political and civil rights could not be isolated from the economic reconstruction of the South and the nation. For blacks, the end of slavery of course did not mean the end of work, but rather an end to forced labor. Blacks relished the prospect of receiving the benefits of their own labor. But the vast majority of blacks emerged from slavery lacking the ability to buy land and confronted by a white community opposed to extending credit to blacks or to selling them property. At the same time, that whites looked for a system of labor and the Black Codes to bind blacks to the land, as slavery had, freed people coveted land of their own and struggled to be masters of their own time and labor.