American Reconstruction - Paper

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I. Reconstruction: Option 2 “Reconstruction can be summed up this way…” During reconstruction a major shift took place in our government. With the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments the United States had become a nation pressing toward equality. With the newly granted freedom to learn how to read and write, marry, practice religion, and vote it seemed as if blacks were in store for a better life. However for freed blacks most aspects of life were still heavily influenced by white southerners. Land disputes were among these major issues that freed blacks had to deal with. During the war, Union officers had given seized plantation land to slave refugees for them to settle on while the war was being fought. Upon the war’s end many blacks had become established on small portions of the land and felt they were entitled to it for their past suffering. Few white politicians agreed and in 1865 President Johnson ordered that all seized land be restored to the rightful (white) owner. Although many argue that African Americans had benefitted from reconstruction, the changes that our government had made to benefit freed slaves only lasted while the northerners were present in the south. After their withdrawal, the freedom that was granted to blacks was soon revoked by southern state governments. Many state governments created obscure loop holes to limit the freed black’s ability to live a truly equal life to that of the southern whites.

Although the main topic of reconstruction was how to handle the end of slavery, another concern was how to handle white southerners. Once their land was granted back to them many plantation owners quickly began turning a profit again through sharecropping. As the north established the right for blacks to be free, they did not give them the resources to succeed, such as land to settle. With hope that blacks would stay and work as waged employees on cash crop plantations, republicans were hesitant to break up white land to give to blacks. They did not want them to privately own land. Blacks were left with no choice but to work for almost nothing in return. This alone crippled the freed slaves chance to succeed in the south. Along with not allowing the freed slaves to settle land, many of the laws that were created through state governments during reconstruction contained loopholes. For example, a law was passed stating that a black man could vote only if he had a “free” ancestor in his family. This requirement was rarely met by blacks considering slavery had recently been abolished. The historian’s summary of reconstruction is somewhat accurate except there are arguments suggesting that blacks did ultimately gain from reconstruction. Also, not all southern whites considered reconstruction a victory. However, the quote is true to say that the north had lost interest by the late 1870’s is rather true. After establishing the Reconstruction Acts and Amendments 13 – 15, the United States government was very active in the south until the mid-1870s. They had established army troops throughout the southern states to help keep order and protect recently freed slaves. By 1877 northerners had almost completely lost interest in the war and newly elected president Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew all the troops from the southern states. The fall of reconstruction as America’s top priority was due to the fact that America was transforming into an international power. With a booming foreign trade market and the establishment of a legitimate army and powerful navy America transformed into a world power after the Civil War.

I. Industrialization: Argument for railroads
Railroads played a major role throughout the nineteenth century, transforming America into a nation of industrialization. Without the railroad this would not have been possible and America would have been forced to stay an agricultural driven economy. Aside from becoming the dominant mode of passenger transportation, the railroad was...
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