DBQ – Reconstruction In the time period from 1860 to 1877 many major changes occurred in the United States that made it more similar to how we know it today. During this time the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were acquired. In addition, many welfare and federal government programs began, however some of the social developments were less effective. Between 1860 and 1877 constitutional developments, to an extreme extent, and social developments, to a lesser extent, amounted to a revolution. During this time period many constitutional developments and battles over state vs. federal power made the changes that happened revolutionary.
For the first time a state, South Carolina, used its power to secede in 1860 (Doc A). It argued that the states entered into the union under the Nature of the Compact and that if they disagreed with the actions of the federal government than it was within their power to secede and leave the union. However the opposing view believes in nationality (Doc B). That once the states entered the Union they did so permanently, and the cause of a lot of suffering and treason was when state rights were elevated above federal authority. President Buchanan offered the opinion that it was illegal to succeed but also illegal to go to war to prevent it.
Another disagreement in this period was suffrage and black rights. The African Americans believed they deserved a right to vote as much as anyone else because they had been allowed to raise their bayonet against the South in the revolutionary war (Doc C). The Southern view was that the Federal Government doesn’t have the right to decide suffrage in any state or the rights of certain peoples within each state (Doc D). The Northern viewpoint won out with the ratification of the 14th amendment with gave African Americans equal rights.
This was completely revolutionary compared to the prewar mindset that Blacks were inferior and even stupid. Even some of people who wished to end slavery didn’t necessarily want to give the freed slaves full rights and citizenship. However enforcing the new amendments and the Civil Rights Act would be harder because many people in the South formed groups such as the Ku Klux Klan which terrorized blacks because they still believed them to be inferior and not deserving of rights (Doc H). In order to help put an end to this Congress passed the Enforcement Acts of 1871 again stating the fact of ederal over state power. During this time period constitutional developments and new acts such as the 14th amendment, the civil rights act, and equality were revolutionary ideas in the United States. Social developments were revolutionary in the ideas they had, but during this time period were only so effective and could only be enforced to a certain extent. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created to assist former slaves in beginning their life as freedmen. However it was not effective especially in keeping its promise to freedmen of getting them land in which to live on (Doc E).
Before all of the slaves were freed the Homestead act of 1862 was passed which allowed an applicant, including free slaves, to apply for undeveloped federal land outside the states. But, when all of the slaves are free they are not receiving homesteads and even tried pleading to the president in an effect to use their newly gained rights (Doc E). This shows that some of the early welfare programs ideas and ideologies were very revolutionary but also very ineffective in following through with what was promised. In the mid 1870’s certain groups such as the White League and the K. K. K. ere created in to continue discrimination against the Blacks through terror and murder which some people felt was worse than slavery itself (Doc I). These groups were created after the Enforcement Acts of 1870 which were supposed to enforce equal rights and the Civil Rights Act. However it just shows that the acts were ineffective and the Nation had only progressed in the sense that the idea was revolutionary. During the period of 1860-1871 social developments only amounted to revolution in the fact that the ideas were revolutionary, the acts themselves were ineffective and sometimes made things worse.
The period of 1860-1871 was revolutionary. New social ideas developed such as welfare programs and protection acts that were revolutionary thinking, but were unable to be enforced until later. Constitutional developments during this time were the most revolutionary because of citizenship for all people born in the U. S. , including the right to vote and the right to own land. To allow minorities such as African Americans to vote and be at the same status was a huge constitutional development and during this time a very revolutionary idea.