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Americas Post Civil War Growing Pains

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America's Post-Civil War Growing Pains
Dayna L. Wingert
Professor Smith
HIS 105
January 22, 2012

In 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia General Robert E. Lee surrendered 27,800
Confederate troops to Grant. This eventually brought about the Thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution, that abolished slavery in this country. The Thirteenth Amendment states that
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (Becker, 1999) This was easily the most significant turning point in the era of Reconstruction. In today's society all races are integrated, this is what creates the American culture. In
2008, all races came together to shatter more than two hundred years of history by electing
Barrack Obama, the first African American President of the United States. President Obama put the sentiments of this history making night in to words by stating “Young and old, rich and poor,
Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states,” he said. “We have been and always will be the
United States of America.” (Johnson, Nove) This is a testament to the end of slavery and the profound impact it has had on our country. President Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, he died the following morning. President Lincoln was a stanch supporter of abolishing slavery and issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, this was the first official document that ordered the freeing of slaves. (Proquest, 2010) This was two and a half years before June 19, 1865, also known as Juneteenth, this is considered the day when the last slaves in America were freed. If President Lincoln would not have been assassinated the freeing of slaves would have happened sooner. I also believe that Lincoln would have tried to make the transition to being free men and women easier for the former slaves. Lincoln would have pushed for integration legislation and would have increased the penalties and punishments for not adhering to such regulations. This would have made the integration of blacks into white society smoother and possibly would have spared some of the bloodshed.

Black Americans had decent government backing up to about 1877. They had been granted civil rights, and the right to vote. However, the end of reconstruction sadly served as the end of upheld rights for African Americans. Federal and state governments began to push to keep black Americans from being equal to them. In 1881, the state government in Tennessee announced segregation of public transportation. All of the southern states followed suit shortly there after. Then on October 15, 1883 the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating. This was a major blow for black society.

Another major turning point of this era was the age of innovation. The technological advancements that brought about the Industrial Revolution have, with out a doubt, had a remarkable impact on today’s society. With out the introduction of electricity, by Thomas Edison in 1879, we wouldn't be taking this class through a computer today. (Schultz, 2011) The inventions that launched the industrial revolution make all of the innovations that we enjoy and depend on today possible. I shutter to even consider what this world would be like if it weren't for innovative geniuses such as Edison, Bell, and Otis. They paved the way to the technological metropolis that we live in today.

The Industrial Revolution was a God send for many, because it brought work to families that needed it. Now freed slaves jumped at the opportunity to leave the fields and work in manufacturing factories. However, urban life was not healthy nor safe. Most of the dwellings for the factory workers were dirty with no running water and improper sewage disposal. This lead to disease and illness to run rampant.

The age of Reconstruction through the Industrial Revolution was a time of civil unrest as well as technological innovation. You can't have the good with out the bad. Our history is what has helped to shape this country into what it is today.

References

Reconstruction (1865-77). (2010, November 17). In ProQuest Editorial Website G. Retrieved from http://elibrary.bigchalk.com

Schultz, K. (2011). Hist: Volume 2. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning.

Johnson, A. (Nove). Msnbc. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27531033/ns/politics-decision_08/t/barack-obama-elected-th-president/

Becker, E. (1999). Retrieved from http://innercity.org/holt/chron_1830_end.html

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