With the end of the Civil War, the future United States got exposed to the era of Reconstruction. The latter was aiming to reintegrate the Southern states into the Union. At that time, the key objective of the President was to reunify the country at all costs and create an environment where every individual and belief would be taken into consideration. It was proposed by Lincoln to retain the Confederate states, but Lincoln’s initiative was met with hostility by the Republicans, who did not believe in the positive outcomes of reintegrating the rebel states back into the Union. As it may be seen nowadays, the Republicans mostly disproved Lincoln’s ideas because it seemed to overlook the provision of rights to former slaves while exonerating the turncoats. Nevertheless, it was Lincoln who supervised the abolishment of slavery but could not live long enough to witness the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The assassination of Lincoln gave rise to a Democrat named Andrew Johnson, a rather humble person who could be seen as a true depiction of a self-made man.
One of the main reasons why Johnson became a successful politician was that he came from humble beginnings and always tried to stand up for the poor southern population. After being elected in the 1840s, Johnson became the governor of Tennessee and stayed in the Senate even when the State of Tennessee seceded. The further nomination of Johnson as the vice president could be seen as one of the most pragmatic decisions made by Republicans, as Andrew Johnson was a well-known southerner that held slaves. The importance of slavery expansion, Confederate states, and President Johnson’s actions intertwine to establish the idea that each of the three concepts changed the future of the United States and contributed to the development of strong opposition that facilitated the improvements in political and social areas of life. The current essay is going to discuss the potential of political persuasion and the value of a strong agenda when it comes to transforming essential, long-standing concepts.
The fact of the country being divided seriously affected the Union because there were states that either prohibited or permitted slavery, making it harder for the government to reach a unified approach to running the country. The majority of political debates that took on the concept of slavery before 1820 discussed the possibility of legalizing slavery on the western grounds (Wright 359). It gave rise to the advent of slavery in the State of Missouri and also became a premise for the establishment of slavery in the Arkansas Territory. The presence of political instability and ambiguity has led to the hardening of sectional lines that ultimately contributed to a specific political failure that occurred everywhere across the country during the 1850s. Throughout the whole decade, none of the political leaders could resolve the issue of division and recurrently came back to discussing slavery, but in vain. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the President of the Union, but eleven states decided to quit the Union and establish an independent nation that was named the Confederate States of America.
Even though the Civil War only lasted for four years and the Confederates surrendered rather quickly, the impact of this event still haunts the United States to this day. One of the most important slavery-related outcomes was that the Civil War put an end to constant racial injustices and created a much more positive environment for the minorities that were no longer forced to fight for their freedom. The Thirteenth Amendment helped the American government abolish slavery and move on to other important objectives that averted the country from the so-much-needed progression (Wright 361). The creation of new states during the first half of the 19th century was critical for the Union because it helped the government establish broader frontier lines. During the second half of the 19th century, the state included the sections of Nebraska and Kansas, creating even more premises for the future development of the United States of America.
Overall, it may be concluded that another important outcome of the Western expansion was the exposure to the Indians of the West who were not contented with the Union taking on their land. Throughout the process of expansion, the majority of commerce, manufacturing, and finance concentrated in the states located in the Middle Atlantic region and New England. The division even touched upon the products and economies, as the South was mainly known for its agriculture while the North principally produced clothing, lumber, and machinery. Another concept that contributed to the advent of a division was the rising number of immigrants that entered the country between the 1840s and 1860s (Wright 367). The situation in Europe was not as flourishing as in the Union, which stimulated emigration and slaveholding. The presence of political disagreements between the North and the South created a perfect-case scenario where slavery began to embellish as well due to the wrongful approach to how the states interacted.
The Confederate States of America
The most popular opinion during the Civil War was that the North would not win because numerous obstacles were affecting their opportunities. The South had much more workforce, while the North outdid the South in terms of manufacturing war materials. The lack of balance could not be seen as affecting at least one of the sides, because there was no definite opinion regarding the winner of the Civil War at the time. For the North to secure its victory, it would have to support its offensive warfare with at least three times more soldiers, while the South did not have to reach out for more raw materials to produce enough war supplies for every soldier (Rothera 76). Therefore, the Confederate states could have much more chances to rely on European support due to the increased level of recognition and understanding displayed by the overseas leaders. Improper handling of available resources made it possible for the North to come up with a different strategy that gave them the win.
The problem with the Confederate states was that there was no Southern leader that would have a personality that could inspire confidence and commitment among their colleagues, followers, and the community. Despite the current criticism, the Southerners of the 1860s were much more different because they were weaker in terms of leadership and seriously lenient when it came to policymaking and governmental debates. The refusal to cooperate negatively affected the Confederate states and developed a tendency for loss among the Southern troops that did not have a unified command and were not motivated to win (Rothera 79). The right to secede from the Union became essential for many Southerners because they wanted to have the right to act autonomously but never realized the impact of the Confederation on the Union and vice versa.
The key difficulty that the Confederate States of America faced during their altercation against the North was that the majority of local and state initiatives could be deemed inadequate. Some of the counties even ran out of resources required to support their initiatives. The non-stop raids and military activities continuously spread destruction but never allowed the South to prove their point and achieve relief. The increasing competition among county and local governments affected the Confederate states to an extent where they lost the ability to provide even their military forces with enough food. Despite many local citizens being there to be fed, the Confederacy came up with the claim that the army should be the priority during the Civil War. The inability to feed both civilians and soldiers instantaneously caused the leaders of the Confederate States to resort to importing required resources from other states.
Overall, the Confederate States of America experienced a steep downfall due to the lack of resource management strategies that led to increased suffering and hunger among their supporters. The inability to provide civilians and troops with enough food became the key reason why Southern leaders could not receive enough support from the locals who could not understand the government that perceived military altercations as superior to the lives of civilians who starved to death because of the Civil War. The Confederate States of America did not have a plan to alleviate the suffering, and it caused the local officials to expose themselves to the neglect of the local populations for the sake of winning (Rothera 80). The ultimate results of the Civil War suggest that the decision to exert their best efforts to win the conflict turned out to be unsatisfactory even under the condition where all possible resources were used to promote and support the military force. The abhorrence that the Southern leaders displayed even toward their population during the wartime caused the Confederate States of America to fail at the end of the day.
The main reason why the Reconstruction occurred was the belief promoted by the Radical Republicans that the white and the black populations of the Union should have been entitled to identical rights and freedoms. Another crucial concept was the necessity to punish the Civil War leaders that also represented the Confederate states. President Johnson’s approach to policymaking was mostly opposed by Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvanian, and Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts. This strong political battle unfolded due to the inability of both parties to reach a reasonable consensus and the growing suspicion among the Americans who believed in the excessive role of the federal government in state affairs (Dominique 4). The projects developed by the Radical Republicans were intended to protect the emancipated blacks and directly intervene in state affairs to ensure that the minorities are going to receive enough assistance. The Radicals’ beliefs were also based on the aspect of giving a chance to blacks to compete in an economy that was shaped by free labor. The Civil Rights Bill was initially developed and introduced by the Radical Republicans.
Another important element of the Reconstruction was the advent of the first African-American representatives in Congress. Even though the Southern states elected their Congressmen to be black, President Johnson opposed this decision due to his reasons and barred the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, as he believed that it would overload the government and slow down its operations. Another problem with the Reconstruction was that President Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Bill because blacks and whites could not have the same rights of person and property (Dominique 7). This perceived racism caused the Radical Republicans to go against Johnson even stronger to be able to overturn the veto and bring the Civil Rights Act back into action. The importance of this situation may be explained by the fact that it was the first time when major legislation was reversed. The Radicals expected to get the court to enforce rights and maintain a vigorous federal judiciary. These efforts ultimately sped up the approval of the Fourteenth Amendment that prohibited states from displaying and nurturing inequality.
The second portion of the Fourteenth Amendment focused on the idea that the number of state representatives should be reduced in the case where suffrage is denied within the given state. Therefore, the Radical Republicans developed an agenda where the South had a straightforward choice: (a) to lose congressional representation or (b) to accept black suffrage. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 was an important stage in American history because it strengthened the Republican positions and affected the ex-Confederates in a way that they would not be able to run for the national or state offices anymore (Couch). The former leading rebels became banned from the possibility to take on any positions in the office, which allowed the Southern Unionists to take over and become the new political power in the South.
Nevertheless, the process of rewriting the Constitution was not as successful as it was expected by the politicians across the South. There was President Johnson, who affected the potential success of policies and acts that could be passed to protect the minority populations, and the Radical Republicans decided to push for an extraordinary solution and achieve Presidential impeachment. The elections of 1866 gave the power to Radical Republicans and made it possible for them to overturn the existing regimen and avert the ruling class from exerting their influence on the region. The Military Reconstruction Act was passed in 1867. According to it, the South would be divided into five districts that would be entitled to empowering the emancipation of black citizens and property. The federal hostility averted the Republicans from bringing the change, but the latter took the positions that belonged to Southern Democrats and developed a political body where the Radical initiatives overrode every President Johnson’s veto.
Even though Johnson was still active as the President of the Union, the Senate failed to convict him. It created an interesting situation where the radical reforms became stronger while the President’s impact on policymaking diminished to the possible minimum. Even though there were mixed reviews of the actions taken by the Radical Republicans, the majority of the Southern population concluded that former slaves should have the opportunity to vote and run for office. The Reconstruction was one of the reasons why the Ku Klux Klan was born, as the new political rights given to blacks seemed to destabilize the whites and their perceived political and social roles (Couch). The Military Reconstruction Act turned out to be not as effective as expected because Southern minorities became overly exposed to massacres and lynchings hosted by the Ku Klux Klan members, forcing the Republicans to ask Washington for protection. The influence of the Military Reconstruction Act finally slowed down when the Union troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877, allowing for additional attempts to dismantle the newly assimilated rights given to African-Americans.
The concept of Reconstruction became one of the most important pages in the history of the United States because of President Johnson’s position that somehow resembled an excuse for the actions of rebellious Southerners. The fact that all property came back to the latter (except for the slaves, evidently) showed that the increased support for the Constitution of the United States could grant additional opportunities for the former enemies. Nevertheless, the initiative turned out to be successful because Johnson accurately prevented the outbreak of hostilities and removed rich Southerners from the proposed amnesty. That unique responsibility separated the southern planter class from the remainder of the population, which may also be important to show because Johnson’s attempts to fight against the class of planters finally succeeded. A personal pardon from Johnson, in addition to increased taxes, was the key requirement for the wealthiest Southerners to regain their rights.
The presence of straightforward requirements for readmission became the main reason for the advent of individual state conventions and ratification of the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Amendments. The former Confederate leaders became able to regain their seats in Congress by the end of 1865, which is also an important sign as previously jailed individuals could be selected as members of Congress. In 1866, Johnson proclaimed that each of the former Confederate states fulfilled the requirements necessary to restore the Union. Even though Johnson could not reach a reasonable agreement with the Radical Republicans, his treatment of the issue could not be seen as lenient because Johnson’s approach required the leaders of the Confederate states to acknowledge the required change and increase the overall representativeness of the government. The Radical Republicans were not on the same page with Johnson because their view of the issue did not allow them to validate the southern state government where former slaveholders would freely take their places in Congress.
Therefore, the advent of a special committee collected by the Radical Republicans became one of the most important stages during the era of Reconstruction. These straightforward actions allowed the Republicans to regain control of the House and ensure that the southern government is not going to overturn the Union’s approach to politics and human rights one more time. The further renovation of the South became an essential effort that made both Johnson and the Republicans rethink their approaches to politics, as the lack of compromise-like options could have sparked another dangerous nationwide conflict that would take over the country and nullify President Lincoln’s attempts to develop a democratic state where there is no slavery and injustice. The current paper explained the contribution of slavery expansion, Confederate states, and President Johnson’s actions to the series of clashes that ultimately shaped the Union that later became the United States of America.
Couch, W. T. “Why The Confederacy Failed”. vqronline.org, 2020, Web.
Dominique, Claudia N. “The Repercussions of Presidential Perceptions: US Reconstruction and President Andrew Johnson.” Line by Line: A Journal of Beginning Student Writing, vol. 6, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-10.
Rothera, Evan. “”Moses in Retirement”: Andrew Johnson, 1869-1876.” The Gettysburg Historical Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, pp. 74-89.
Wright, Gavin. “Slavery and Anglo‐American Capitalism Revisited.” The Economic History Review, vol. 73, no. 2, 2020, pp. 353-383.