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DBQ Reconstruction

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From 1860 to 1877 America fought a bloody Civil War and went through a “Reconstruction” era from that war. During this time period changes to the Constitution, such as the 15th Amendment that granted African American men the right to vote, caused what is now viewed as a revolution. The formation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1865 exemplifies a social change that stirred the pot of revolution in a different way. Put together, the social and constitutional changes that America witnessed during and after the Civil War were the driving circumstances that ushered in this new era, which is viewed as a revolution.

A political cartoon published nearly ten years after the end of the Civil War demonstrates a social change in the treatment and fostering of racism. The federal government that once helped to create and preserve slavery, now served as the protector of the rights of southern blacks. During this time America saw the emergence of hate groups such as the White League and the Ku Klux Klan. Through tactics of violence and fear, these groups sabotaged hopes for freedom and progress for African Americans just as state-sponsored slavery did before the war. The quote “Worse Than Slavery” printed over a mourning African American couple whose child died in a school bombing paints the idea that the post-war south was just as hostile towards Blacks as before (Document I).

Gideon Welles, the Secretary of Navy during Lincoln’s presidency reveals another common social change from this time period. Welles states that slavery shall be defeated through constitutional means, while black civil rights is a different matter. Mr. Welles like many other northern politicians of the time believed that the institution of slavery was morally incorrect and should be tampered with. On the other hand Welles promoted a laissez-faire approach to the question of black Civil Rights. Welles’ views were shared by many modernized northerners, who felt that blacks deserved rights, but not as many as whites (Document D).

The November 16, 1867 cover of Harper’s Weekly, depicted a black man dropping his vote in a ballot box. The illustration, which was labeled “The First Vote”, embodied the sentiments of many Americans living in the post-war north (at the time Harper’s Weekly was the most popular magazine in America). Before the 15th Amendment, there was no true democratic election, this idea being a massive turn around from all pre-war era publishing (Document G).

Senator Lot Morrill’s congressional speech from February of 1866 exemplifies the impact of congressional changes in bringing about revolution. Morrill’s speech supported the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted all people in the United States who were not under foreign influence civil rights. Such an idea being protected by the Constitution was revolutionary to a country that a year before was fighting over the freedom of that same race of people (Document F). The Klu Klux Klan Act of 1871 put southern blacks under federal protection from Klan violence. This congressional act was revolutionary because it increased federal powers and revealed that Congress would no longer let hate crimes towards blacks slip underneath their desks; now such instances would be dealt with force and legitimacy (Document H).

In 1863 Congress passed the National Bank Act; this act not only reestablished national banks it also created a banking system that encouraged nationally backed currency. Senator John Sherman responded to this newly enforced act by saying it would increase nationalism, and move state powers to federal powers. Senator Sherman’s statements demonstrated the acts of congress greatly enhancing this American Revolution (Document B).

The Constitutional and social changes that the US underwent from 1860 to 1877 amounted to a revolution. Black’s now have the same rights as whites, and federally backed currency is virtually the only used currency; showing that the changes from this era are still in place today. However this era of great change, though very important proved to be one of many more American periods of revolution that led to a more modern, ethical, and equal country. Without the post war changes that occurred in this time period the United States of America would not be as it is today.

Thesis: Put together, the social and constitutional changes that America witnessed during and after The Civil War fueled and a buffer into a new era, viewed as a revolution.

Para 1 Social Changes Impacted the Revolution Era
Doc I: Anti Black bombing, white hate groups take the command seat Doc D: Northern idealism against civil rights but in support of abolishment Doc G: Cover of important Harper’s Weekly shows true Pro ethics idealism Para 2 Congressional acts and moves also supported the American change Doc F: The revolutionary Civil Rights act of 1866

Doc H: Ku Klux Klan act of 1871 finally denied the unfair actions of the KKK Doc B: New type of nationally backed currency, pro Nationalism Conclusion
Restate Thesis in a new way
Discuss changes in American life/Government

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