Constitutional and social developments between 1860 and 1877 had a huge impact on American politics and life, resulting in a massive cultural, political, and social revolution. Added to these developments were continually changing goals and revolutionary ideas which helped furthered the revolutionary process. Such changes dramatically altered American lifestyles and trains of thought. As Senator Morrill said, "every substantial change in the fundamental constitution of a country is a revolution."
Politics and states' rights, black suffrage, and civil rights issues all combined during this period of turmoil to create unrest and, eventually, a revolution, Civil War and Southern Reconstruction. Politics and states' rights were major issues that created hatred during the period of 1860 to 1877. Issues of concentrated power, interpretations of the constitution, state nullification, and currency issues all affected the American society. Americans argued over Constitution interpretation (loose or strict construction) and believed that the opposing view resulted in a concentration of power in the federal government. Many Southerners believed in delegated powers and sought to create a set of strong governments. Many Northern Unionists desired to strengthen and empower the federal government. Certain laws and taxes were created by the national government around 1860 that many Southern states objected to and wished to nullify. Unionists explained that the Constitution did not allow this. The first Southern state to secede (and eventually bring about the Civil War) namely South Carolina, believed certain taxes were being imposed and limited their delegated power. Unionists believed in preserving the Union and creating a strong, nationalistic, democratic society. They claimed that strong principles of states' rights, which may have weakened national authority and laws, had ruined the Union and could lead to financial and political ruin in the future. Currency issues developed under attacks on states' rights. South Carolina and her sisters believed in the power of the state and people to control and produce money privately of their own national choice (gold, silver, paper). Unionizes believed in a dependence on a U. S. national currency and exchange, so that loyalty and trust would more strongly develop between the states and the federal government. All of these political issues primarily focused on states' rights helped bring about a revolution (namely the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction).
Black suffrage during the times of the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction was a major issue that split the American public and confused it at times due to the American Federal government's changing policies and goals. A definite statement can be made regarding the issue: primarily all free white Americans in the South, from 1860 to 1877, wanted blacks barred from voting. The federal government, however, is another matter. In the beginning of the Civil War, even people in leadership positions confessed to the Union and their disinterest in black suffrage. Gideon Welles stated that the federal government does not want to attempt and has no right forcing a state to allow blacks to vote. Lincoln, during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, claimed not to be an abolitionist and was uninterested in freeing the slaves. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln claimed that at that point slaves should be free, but this document was primarily to pacify the Border States and keep European powers, namely France and England, out of the war. Blacks began to demand the vote through abolitionist and Union support. In 1865, American citizens of African descent begged for the vote to combat the enemy just as they were called to do in the field. Blacks wanted to vote, whether they were in the Union or the Confederacy. Eventually under Southern Reconstruction,
Civil War Reconstruction Dbq Essay
940 Words4 Pages
During the time period of 1860 and 1877 many major changes occurred. From the beginning of the civil war to the fall of the reconstruction, the United States changed dramatically. Nearly one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence which declared all men equal, many social and constitutional alterations were necessary to protect the rights of all people, no matter their race. These social and constitutional developments that were made during 1860 to 1877 were so drastic it could be called a revolution.
The election of Abraham Lincoln and the secession of the South led to the outbreak of the civil war. The civil war was the first revolutionary change in America. States' rights were a major issue during this time. Issues of…show more content…
When blacks were given the right to vote, it was only somewhat successful. Many blacks did use their new political power to vote as it is shown in Harper's Weekly (Document G), but whites still tried to stop them. Literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and fear caused by the Ku Klux Klan were used to keep blacks from exercising their right to vote. Another issue of reconstruction was the banking and currency system. In an attempt to uniform the currency, Senator John Sherman gave a speech saying that with "a currency and a medium of exchange, we shall have a broader and more generous nationality" (Document B). At the time many states had their own currency and a change needed to be made to unite the states. A sense of nationality was needed as the nation was in turmoil after the attempted secession of the South. Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 with the Compromise of 1877. Rutherford Hayes became president for agreeing to end federal support for Southern Republicans and building a transcontinental railroad. In this compromise he also withdrew troops from the South. This, along with the rejection of laws protecting blacks from discrimination, brought reconstruction to an end in 1877.
Many social changes occurred during the time from 1860 to 1877. In the history of the United States, blacks had been viewed as less than equal to whites. This was clearly shown through the three-fifths compromise which counted slaves as less than an actual