The Civil War was an important and impactful event in American history. This war had a myriad of effects on the United States of America leaving the nation to repair itself from its self-inflicted damages. The period after the Civil War from 1865 to 1877, is called the Reconstruction because it was the rebuilding and revival of the United States. The Reconstruction, also, had numerous effects and ideas that some of which still display themselves today. This brings up the question, to what extent did ideas and events from the reconstruction shape the present? Although it can be argued that today's society has progressive ideals and has moved forward from America's past, America withholds ideas of equality from the Reconstruction which also unified the nation. Therefore, reconstruction ideals and events shaped the present to a great extent.
One of the overlooked successes of the Reconstruction is the development of existing equality ideals. The Civil War concluded with the Emancipation Proclamation which liberated all slaves. This was the first and one of the biggest steps towards social equality taken in the United States. The ratification and the passing of the fourteenth amendment further consolidates this ideology of equality all of which is present and progressing today. The picture above displays the fourteenth amendment, which granted equal citizenship and protection to all Americans. This amendment was a monumental development in American society as now African Americans, once involuntarily bound to white men, are capable of receiving equal protection and treatment under the law. The diverse races in America were then legally treated the same. Society today has progressed much more since the Reconstruction, however, the roots of its attempted egalitarian society stem from this era.
Although the Reconstruction had its successes, most people view the Reconstruction as a failure, relative to its purpose as a whole. One of these failures, setbacks, was the continuation of ill-treatment toward African Americans. Despite the attempts made by the federal government, white Americans weeded out ways to discriminate against and subjugate African Americans once again. After the emancipation of all slaves, radical groups that were driven by white supremacy beliefs emerged. One of which and the most prominent was the the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). This particular group dressed in white and choreographed numerous attacks on freed African Americans. These groups refuse to believe in any situation in which non-whites were equal to whites. Dressing up in white and hurting African Americans, is an attempt of showing that African Americans are still less than white Americans. However, this violence was a short term setback in the United States from which the nation has observed and learned from. Today's society changes its ways based on previous mistakes.
The Reconstruction was an important period in American history as it had a lasting impact on the United States. This legacy is the permanent unification of the United States of America. Although there was initially persistent Confederate opposition to the federal government, the Reconstruction reunified and preserved the nation in this unified state. Even today, some states still hang Confederate flags, yet looking at the bigger picture, the US is inseparable. One of the key components to this long term unification is the actions of Abraham Lincoln. The abolishment of slavery may not have been personally important to Lincoln, his belief that this action would save the Union, preserved the nation as a whole for many years to come.
The aforementioned failure of the Reconstruction is similar to the situation of laborers in the period shortly after the Reconstruction. In the Reconstruction, although slaves were freed, African Americans continued to be maltreated. A part of this maltreatment is the development of Black Codes, laws passed in the South that restricted African Americans' freedom. A short time afterward, as the economy expanded and industrialism grew in America, an influx of immigrants provided a consistent flow of cheap labor. With poor working conditions and a surplus of cheap labor, management often had the upper-hand when dealing with labor strikes and labor unions. Employers used tactics such as blacklisting, court injunctions, and lockouts to defeat unions. Both instances use legal tactics in order to subjugate the lower class that had any hope in upward social or economic mobility. However, through persistent labor union efforts and the development of the National Labor Union, working conditions today are much improved with scarce strikes.