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Civil War And Reconstruction Questions?

The extension of democracy, the unification of the nation, and disputes between the President and Congress over the use of power have often been important National Issues. For the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction, explain two examples for each to show that these issues were present.
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  • ? says:

    In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republicans were strong advocates of nationalism and in their 1860 platform explicitly denounced threats of disunion as avowals of treason. After a Republican victory, but before the new administration took office on March 4, 1861, seven cotton states declared their secession and joined together to form the Confederate States of America. Both the outgoing administration of President James Buchanan and the incoming administration rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion. The other eight slave states rejected calls for secession at this point. No country in the world recognized the Confederacy. Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state to recapture federal property. This led to declarations of secession by four more slave states. Both sides raised armies as the Union seized control of the border states early in the war and established a naval blockade that virtually ended cotton sales on which the South depended for its wealth, and blocked most imports. Land warfare in the East was inconclusive in 1861–62, as the Confederacy beat back Union efforts to capture its capital, Richmond, Virginia. In September 1862, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made ending slavery in the South a war goal,and dissuaded the British from intervening. Confederate commander Robert E. Lee won battles in Virginia, but in 1863 his northward advance was turned back with heavy casualties after the Battle of Gettysburg. To the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after their capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, thereby splitting the Confederacy in two. The Union was able to capitalize on its long-term advantages in men and materiel by 1864 when Ulysses S. Grant fought battles of attrition against Lee, while Union general William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea. Confederate resistance ended after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Victory for the North meant the end of the Confederacy and of slavery in the United States, and strengthened the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877. Per capita income for white southerners declined from $125 in 1857 to a low of $80 in 1879. By the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, the South was locked into a system of economic poverty. Passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments are constitutional legacies of Reconstruction. These Reconstruction Amendments established the rights which, through extensive litigation, led to Supreme Court rulings starting in the early 20th century that struck down discriminatory state laws. A “Second Reconstruction”, sparked by the Civil Rights Movement, led to civil rights laws in 1964 and 1965 that protected and enforced full civic rights of African Americans. Violent opposition towards freedmen and whites who supported Reconstruction emerged in numerous localities under the name of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret vigilante organization, which led to federal intervention by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1871 that closed down the Klan. Conservative white Democrats calling themselves “Redeemers” regained control state by state, sometimes using fraud and violence to control state elections. A deep national economic depression following the Panic of 1873 led to major Democratic gains in the North, the collapse of many railroad schemes in the South, and a growing sense of frustration in the North. The end of Reconstruction was a staggered process, and the period of Republican control ended at different times in different states. With the Compromise of 1877, Army intervention in the South ceased and Republican control collapsed in the last three state governments in the South. This was followed by a period that white Southerners labeled Redemption, in which white-dominated state legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws and (after 1890) disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through a combination of constitutional amendments and electoral laws. The white Democrat Southerners’ memory of Reconstruction played a major role in imposing the system of white supremacy and second-class citizenship for blacks, known as the age of Jim Crow.[

    August 12, 2013 at 2:50 am

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