Social and Constitutional Development in America (1860-1877)

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Gabrielle Kirshman
APUSH – 1st
January 13, 2011

1996 DBQ: Social and Constitutional Development in America (1860-1877)

During the post-civil war era, America, specifically the south, was undergoing a period of reconstruction. The general goal of reconstruction was to successfully readmit the former Confederacy back into the Union as smoothly as possible, as well as enacting specific safeguards of freedmen’s liberties. The social and constitutional developments in America between 1860 and 1877 were very minor. The lack of change between pre and post civil war status could hardly be considered a revolution. After the war was over, there were many constitutional alterations in America’s government. In 1862, while the war was still going on, the 13th amendment was passed. This was widely known as the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves from their masters in both the Confederacy and the territories. But African-American citizens wanted equal rights to the white man as well (Doc. C). In 1968 the 14th amendment was passed. This amendment stated it would provide a constitutional guarantee of the rights and security of freed people. One provision in the 14th amendment said that Southern states would be punished for not letting blacks vote. A last constitutional change in the government was the passing of the 15th amendment. This amendment, ratified in 1870, said that any free man, of any race, color or previous status of service has the right to vote. All of these new amendments were added into the U.S. Constitution before and during Reconstruction, yet their ineffectiveness proved that they might as well not have been added at all. For example, although the 13th amendment was ratified to change the lives of blacks everywhere by freeing them from slavery and oppression, conditions went right back to where they started within a few years. Blacks couldn’t afford their own land, and those who could were denied by white...
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