Carly Tucker 9 January, 2013 AP US History Mr. Barber Betweeen the years of 1860 and 1877 the united states went through the civil war and reconstruction era. Dramatic changes occurred during this time that brought about drastic constitutional and social development. The dramatic changes brought a revolution. The Civil War was not officially fought over the issue of slavery, but one of the most important outcomes of the war was the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.
The reasons for southern states’ secession ranged from unfair duties imposed on the states to the recurring issue of slavery (Document A). This secession unofficially started the war and created great tension between the North and the South. President Lincoln’s main purpose of commencing war was to unite the divided nation, and with tactics such as his Emancipation Proclamation and gaining the Border States’ support he was able to achieve his goal of reunification. Other results yielded by the war were the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution.
These provisions formally ended slavery and guaranteed the black freedmen future citizenship and suffrage. The blacks argued that if they fought in the war to preserve the Union that they were entitled to voting and having the same rights as other American citizens (Document C). The Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared that every person born in the United States, without regard to race, color, or previous conditions of slavery or involuntary service, is entitled to citizenship. The end of the Civil War marked the end of the bloodshed but the beginning of reconstruction of the nation.
The United States still had many issues to address. One such issue was the new banking and currency systems. Senator John Sherman felt that the country was not nationalized enough. (Doc B) He felt that America would prosper more if it had its own unique exchange system. As opposed to different states doing their own things which is why the government could be overthrown. Although the slaves were finally freed, things were still rough for the freedmen. (Doc C) Some Africans felt that they were being betrayed by their government.
He did not understand how after they have fought for their nation and government, they are still eligible to vote for their representatives. In the petition it explains how they are treated unfairly in court and how the courts will not even receive negro testimony. At that time the government was not too willing to help out the freedmen. Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy wrote in a diary that the Federal Government has no control of whether or not blacks can vote or not. (Doc D) He felt it was entirely up to the states to decide if they vote or not.
The Federal Government has done it job by freeing the state and suffrage is not their issue. And some states took advantage of this with things like the Poll Tax, Literacy Test, and Grandfather Clause, which prevented blacks from being able to vote. The few that could afford the Poll Tax most likely could not read, and if they did it was highly unlikely that their grandfather voted since slaves were not even considered citizens of the United States from the Dread Scott decision. This does not mean that there were no efforts to support the freedmen.
The Freedmen’s Bureau was set up to help blacks do things like read and write so they could be more equal to the white man. In a petition to the Bureau and the President, the Freedmen of Disto Island stated that they were promised land from the government but have yet to see it. As one can see during the years 1860-1877, many developments both constitutional and social put the nation through a revolution. These things have changed the country greatly not just for the blacks but also the whites and for the nation as a whole.
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