Reconstruction and Revolution of Slavery in the Developed Nations

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Prior to 1860, the North and South started to develop differences that had beeen brewing since the slavery became a cultural identity of the South. Slavery became a colossal issue, especially after the victory of the Mexican-American war, that was fought for the admission of Texas to the United States. After the United States won the war, the country gained an enormous amount of territory. The South was particulary interested in settling west because that would mean that citizens could spread slavery to these new territories. In order to counteract this, David Wilmont proposed the Wilmot Proviso. If it were passed, the legislation would outlaw slavery in territories acquired as a result of the Mexican-American war. In addition, the Compromise of 1850 was passed. The compromise admitted California as a free state and did not regulate slavery in the rest of the Mexican cession. the Compromise of 1850 included three other conditions as well. First, Congress banned the slave trade from Washington DC. Second, the Fugitive Slave Act became stricter because it forced residents of free states to promise that they would return slaves who escaped from their masters. The issue of slavery in Utah and New the two other territories gained would be decided by popular sovereignty. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily calmed tensions that existed in the nation because it maintained the balance of free states and slave states. Therefore, before 1860, tensions were rising in the country because of slavery, Lincoln’s goals as president, and the growing number of legislations that had been passed because of the Mexican-American War. As a result, the north and the south needed to settle their differences in order to politically move forward.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. South Carolina had always made threats to secede from the union, but the state never did. The citizens were annoyed with the union for deciding to place tariffs on the basis of population. For the south, their population count that would also include slaves. Because of this, these tariffs were seen as unconstitutional by South Carolina, and was labeled as the Tariff of Abominations by the southern states because it damaged their economy. These tariffs also led to the Nullification crisis because South carolina declared that the federal Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and null within the sovereign boundaries of the southern states. Years of sectional conflict and growing criticism of slavery had lessened nationalistic feelings of southerners. Therefore, the violation of states rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution provided the South with reasons and justifications for secession. Southern states also announced that they would secede if the North used force against the Confederacy because the south also feared northern economic and political domination. Like many northerners, Abraham Lincoln believed that secession was only a bluff designed to gain sympathy, even though southerners knew that the North would not resist secession with force. President Buchanan recognized the gravity of the situation but claimed not to have the legal power necessary to prevent secession. The Crittenden Compromise was also proposed in order to counteract secession. It was an amendment to extend the Missouri Compromise Line to the pacific, but Lincoln opposed any extension of slavery into the territories. Because the Crittenden Compromise did not go into effect, the Confederacy began to make preparations for independence, while Buchanan bumbled helplessly in Washington. Six more states followed by the spring of 1861, which led to a civil war in order to preserve the Union.

By the end of 1863, the Civil War had been fought for two years and the Confederate army was on the road towards defeat. Southerners were against having a centralized authority, which prevented the Confederacy from effectively using the resources available to them, whereas the northern economy had started to experience an exorbitant amount of growth after 1861. Congress passed a number of economic measures previously blocked by southern democrats which included various tariffs, the Homestead Act, the Morrill Land Grant Act, and the National Banking Act. These acts were to help citizens move to different lands and have education be a priority with the Morrill Land Grant. The Civil War cost the nation more than 600,000 lives and colossal property damage. Despite this, the war ended slavery, and secession was overlooked because Lincoln believed that pretending that it did not take place was the only way to move forward.

In spite of the damage that took place, the animosity caused because of the Civil War almost subsided, and most Confederate leaders were not punished if they took an oath of loyalty to the Union. The status of the southern states raised questions about the process of readmitting them to the Union, while also being lenient. In 1862, Lincoln appointed provincial governors for areas of the South that were occupied by federal troops. In December 1863, he issued a proclamation that allowed southerners to reinstate themselves as citizens by pledging a loyalty oath. A state could establish a government when 10 percent of voters in a state1860 took the oath. This was known as Lincoln’s 10 percent plan. The Radicals disliked this plan and instead passed the Wade-Davis Bill. This required a majority of voters in a state to take the loyalty oath before a state could be readmitted. The bill further required that the states prohibit slavery and repudiate Confederate debts. Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill because it would prohibit his plan of being lenient with the southern states. After Andrew Johnson became president, he issued another proclamation that was similar to Lincoln’s. By the time Congress reconvened in December 1865, all of the southern states had organized governments, ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, and had elected senators and representatives.

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Both radical and moderate Republicans wanted to protect ex-slaves from being exploited. They also wanted to guarantee ex-slaves their basic rights. Republicans feared that the balance of power in Congress might switch to the Democrats because the Thirteenth Amendment increased the South’s representation. In addition, southern voters elected former Confederate leaders to office. In addition Black Codes were passed by southern governments. These restrictive laws were to limit the freedom of African Americans and use them as a cheap labor source after slavery was abolished. In congress, Johnson angered Republicans by vetoing the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Civil Rights Act. In response, Congress overrode the veto, and both acts were passed in order to affirm that all citizens were protected by the law. In June 1866, Congress submitted the Fourteenth Amendment to the states. This amendment granted blacks political rights and, which also expanded the power of the federal government because it would allow blacks to vote for republicans. In addition, it counteracted the Black Codes by guaranteeing all citizens equal protection of the law. It also attempted to coerce southern states to permit blacks to vote. The amendment also prohibited former officials who had served in the Confederate army from holding a position in office unless they received an official pardon from Congress.

The refusal of southern states to accept the Fourteenth Amendment led to the First Reconstruction Act being passed in March 1867. This law divided the South into five military districts, each commanded by a military officer with powers to protect the civil rights of all people, as well as to maintain order. To end this military rule, states had to adopt new constitutions that granted blacks the right to vote, and ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. Congress passed two more Reconstruction Acts in order to clarify procedures. Ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment was not enough because Radicals wanted to guarantee blacks the right to vote in all states. Congress then passed the Fifteenth Amendment, which had forbidden any state to deny the right to vote based on race, color, and previous condition of servitude. The amendment became part of the Constitution in March 1870.

The South’s economic problems complicated the rebuilding of its political system. Thaddeus Stevens confiscated the property of southern planters and distributed it among blacks. He knew that establishing ex-slaves on farms without adequate tools, seeds, and other necessities, would have done them no favors. Southern whites considered blacks incapable of providing for themselves as independent farmers. Southern planters attempted to farm their lands by having groups of ex-slaves work for wages. This system did not work because southern productivity declined and because Blacks chose to no longer to work like slaves. This caused sharecropping to emerge as an alternative. Sharecropping gave blacks more control over their lives even though many white farmers in the South were felt trapped by the sharecropping system. Scarcity of revenue led to the development of the crop-lien system, which converted southern agriculture into cultivating land for cash crops. Because the south was always primarily agricultural, and not urbanized line the north, manufactured goods declined sharply during the Reconstruction era.

To keep blacks in check, dissident southerners formed secret terrorist societies, and one of the most notorious was the Ku Klux Klan. It was formed in 1866 as a social club, the Klan soon became a vigilante group that was dedicated to driving African Americans out of politics. The Ku Klux Klan ideas spread rapidly throughout the South. Congress attacked the Klan with three Force Acts, which placed elections under federal jurisdiction and punished those believed and convicted of interfering with any citizen’s right to vote. By 1872, federal authorities had broken the power of the Klan. The Ku Klux Klan demonstrated the effectiveness of the use of terrorism in keeping blacks away from the polls, and paramilitary organizations adopted the tactics the Klan had been forced to abandon.

In conclusion, a revolution took place in the United States, because the nation had begun to industrialize and give equal opportunities to almost every citizen in the nation. The nation had begun to not discriminate as much towards other races, especially blacks and immigrants. The United States got to this point because of a long journey starting from the south seceding from the Union. The north and especially Abraham Lincoln, wanted to keep the Union intact. This caused the country to go through a civil war and come back together through a series of prerequisite steps in order to readmit these states to the Union. African Americans were granted the ability to vote as well as a series of protective steps that they never would have received. Ultimately the civil war made the south switch from being primarily agricultural, and have the whole country step towards a more industrialized economy while making sure that minorities were able to have the rights they deserve.

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