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Constitutional And Social Developments Between 1860 And 1877

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Constitutional and social developments between 1860 and 1877 had a huge impact on American politics and life, resulting in a massive cultural, political, and social revolution. Added to these developments were continually changing goals and revolutionary ideas which helped furthered the revolutionary process. Such changes dramatically altered American lifestyles and trains of thought. As Senator Morrill said, "every substantial change in the fundamental constitution of a country is a revolution."

Politics and states' rights, black suffrage, and civil rights issues all combined during this period of turmoil to create unrest and, eventually, a revolution, Civil War and Southern Reconstruction. Politics and states' rights were major issues that created hatred during the period of 1860 to 1877. Issues of concentrated power, interpretations of the constitution, state nullification, and currency issues all affected the American society. Americans argued over Constitution interpretation (loose or strict construction) and believed that the opposing view resulted in a concentration of power in the federal government. Many Southerners believed in delegated powers and sought to create a set of strong governments. Many Northern Unionists desired to strengthen and empower the federal government. Certain laws and taxes were created by the national government around 1860 that many Southern states objected to and wished to nullify. Unionists explained that the Constitution did not allow this. The first Southern state to secede (and eventually bring about the Civil War) namely South Carolina, believed certain taxes were being imposed and limited their delegated power. Unionists believed in preserving the Union and creating a strong, nationalistic, democratic society. They claimed that strong principles of states' rights, which may have weakened national authority and laws, had ruined the Union and could lead to financial and political ruin in the future. Currency issues developed under attacks on states' rights. South Carolina and her sisters believed in the power of the state and people to control and produce money privately of their own national choice (gold, silver, paper). Unionizes believed in a dependence on a U. S. national currency and exchange, so that loyalty and trust would more strongly develop between the states and the federal government. All of these political issues primarily focused on states' rights helped bring about a revolution (namely the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction).

Black suffrage during the times of the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction was a major issue that split the American public and confused it at times due to the American Federal government's changing policies and goals. A definite statement can be made regarding the issue: primarily all free white Americans in the South, from 1860 to 1877, wanted blacks barred from voting. The federal government, however, is another matter. In the beginning of the Civil War, even people in leadership positions confessed to the Union and their disinterest in black suffrage. Gideon Welles stated that the federal government does not want to attempt and has no right forcing a state to allow blacks to vote. Lincoln, during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, claimed not to be an abolitionist and was uninterested in freeing the slaves. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln claimed that at that point slaves should be free, but this document was primarily to pacify the Border States and keep European powers, namely France and England, out of the war. Blacks began to demand the vote through abolitionist and Union support. In 1865, American citizens of African descent begged for the vote to combat the enemy just as they were called to do in the field. Blacks wanted to vote, whether they were in the Union or the Confederacy. Eventually under Southern Reconstruction,



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