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1865 1900

By valves Jan 26, 2013 1010 Words
1865 to 1900

Identify at least (2) two major historical turning points in the period under discussion.

Death of Lincoln in 1865.

Lincoln’s death changed the course of the country trying to rebuild after the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson was not popular and could not convince Congress especially the southerners to go along with him. Lincoln had a plan to build up the South and end the hate. He ordered amnesty and that the south be rebuilt. He pardoned, with a few exceptions, any southerner who would swear allegiance to the Union and the United States Constitution. His plan was to let the Confederate states back into the Legislature, but it was not working too well. We will never know how that went because he was assassinated. His idea always was to try to “mend fences” and forgive. The entire civil rights movement was set back because of the death of Lincoln.

The Railroad

The two railroads, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met in Utah in May of 1869. It was merely ceremonial, but the real occasion was that it meant the railroads now would run from coast to coast. The availability of the railroad changed the face of the west and the whole of the United States. Remote places now could ship farm products and receive goods from markets elsewhere. Cattle could be shipped instead of driven and people could more easily get from place to place. Heavy shipments such as steel could be taken anywhere the trains would go. This was a boon to the Industrial revolution by being able to transport things mere horses could not.

Describe at least two (2) ways the Reconstruction period may have been different if President Lincoln had not been assassinated.

President Andrew Johnson, at first pleased the radical politicians in the north by denying that he was in favor of helping out the “planter aristocracy” and insisting that the Confederates should be punished. This was totally different from Lincoln’s plan of forgiveness. Johnson’s plan put his own people in charge of the southern states. The whites still were in control of the blacks by passing laws restricting land ownership, work and lots of other things. These laws were called black codes. Lincoln would not have allowed this.

Many of the positions in the new governments were won by the old Confederate leaders, and Johnson, rather than ordering new elections, allowed this to continue and granted most of them pardons for what they did during the war without any conditions.

Explain how industrialization and urbanization affected the life of the average working American during the period.

Heavy industry was becoming extremely important, especially railroads, factories and coal mining. With the railroads, formerly far-flung locations could now trade with markets in cities, which meant bigger markets for farm goods, coal and steel. Steel production grew by leaps and bounds and was able to be transported easily by rail to wherever it was needed. Large corporations grew in the areas of steel, oil, sugar and meat production.

The new machinery driven factories hired unskilled labor which was attractive for the workers who did not have any skills. The wages grew as the demand grew. Railroads also hired men who could clear land, build and repair tracks, and work where they made the trains. There were also jobs actually working on the trains and in all these jobs was the promise of “moving up.” A new “middle class” was quickly appearing in the cities.

Due to this change in the economic picture, people started moving to cities for jobs in these industries. Besides, there was the ability to travel more easily because of the railroad crossing the entire country by then. People were lured to the urban areas by the boom of machines making jobs easier, better money than subsistence farming, and the pure “draw” of city life. It seemed to be a better life and promise of a way to make a reasonable living to raise a family and get in on the ground floor of this industrial age.

Give at least two (2) examples of how the federal and/or state courts and legislatures handed down decisions or passed laws during the period that served to discriminate against nonwhite citizens and immigrants.

Plessy v Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256 (1896).


Plessy tried to sit in an all-white railroad car. He refused to go to the black railway carriage car as he was ordered to do. Plessy was therefore arrested for violating an 1890 Louisiana law that allowed segregated “separate but equal” railroad accommodations, including railroad cars. Those using areas which were not specifically for their race were arrested under the statute.

At trial, Plessy was found guilty because the court said the law was a “reasonable exercise of the state’s police powers based upon custom, usage, and tradition in the state.” Plessy filed a petition for writs of prohibition and certiorari in the Supreme Court of Louisiana against Ferguson, asserting that segregation was illegal against blacks and did nothing but make them less than a citizen which was in violation of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments. The court agreed with Ferguson and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. (Plessy v Ferguson, 1986) The Supreme Court agreed that “separate but equal” was legal.

The Compromise of 1877

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The Compromise of 1877, which made Rutherford B. Hayes president of the United States, left the newly freed slaves in the south without any assistance or protection from Washington. The “Reconstruction” Amendments had without the federal government to ensure rights, the southern states would not easily follow up on that law. All federal troops were withdrawn from the southern states as part of the compromise and though the Reconstruction was actually over, it left bitter feelings for most of the people in the south for different reasons. The 1877 Compromise left each of the southern states to fend for them and pass laws in some cases denying rights to the freed slaves

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