Crises that faced the United States at the end of the Civil War in 1865
Various crises faced the United States at the end of the Civil War in 1865. These crises were political, constitutional, economic, social, physical and psychological in nature.
Constitutionally, the United States faced a crisis in April 1865 where the North had denied the South the constitutional rights of seceding but required a war and many deaths to win this decision. President Lincoln held that the South had never left the union but was just not in proper relations with the others. The physical crisis that erupted was that a lot of property had been destroyed and many people had been killed. This was detrimental to the U.S because the people who remained had lost their loved ones and their properties destroyed. The social crisis that occurred at the end of the civil war was because of the social ramifications of the war. The American society was still in anger, social amenities had been destroyed and people could not relate normally because of the tension that was still existent (Green 34).
The political and economic crises came in in an integrated perspective. The civil war had brought a debt crisis, which was an economic crisis that was manifested politically. The crisis consisted of three interrelated crises that came up simultaneously including a repayment crisis, repudiation crisis and a refunding crisis. The basis of these crises was the battle for political might in Post-Civil War America. The Democratic and Republican parties magnified the public debt issue to serve as a political issue that came as crises.
The psychological crisis was because of the suffering that people had gone through watching their properties being destroyed, their loved ones being killed and the situation getting worse. The psychological crisis was an aftermath of the war and was aggravated by the lack of proper healthcare, basic needs and social amenities (Green 56).
The concept of a “New South”
The element of the New South arose at the end of the Reconstruction because of the disagreements that the southern states had with the North. As the support for Reconstruction weakened in the North, the South realized that they could use their resources to control their society. They wanted to use the vote as their tool. The Democrats took office in almost all states and began the process of disenfranchisement. With the loss of the Confederate government, southern occupants sought help from their leaders who were known as the Redeemers. The reason for the establishment of the New South was to reassert their dominance over blacks. The redeemers brought in a mini political change in the south because they believed that a laissez-faire federal government was productive as opposed to the military government. They also believed in the importance of education but wanted the cost of education to be taken by private benefactors as opposed to state governments (Boles and Johnson 239).
They established new things such as business and industry. J.L.M Curry managed the funds and developed many programs including summer schools and teacher associations. The New South differed from the Old South in several aspects. Members of the New South started participating actively in politics. The changed mindset allowed several black politicians to emerge as leaders, for instance, in South Carolina and Georgia. The white people claimed racial superiority but practiced tolerance to enable coexistence. The end of the reconstruction did not directly cause an end to African-American political influence in the South but in the 1890s, whites established ways that disenfranchised blacks from voting even though the Fifteenth Amendment allowed them to vote. The New South did not become a reality even though it made several mileages. The most significant challenge that the New South and its supporters faced is the lack of support from the North and the constitutional provisions such as the Fifteenth Amendment (Boles and Johnson 240).
Transformation of the United States from an agricultural republic to a highly urbanized society between 1870 and 1920
In the period between 1870 and 1920, the United States transformed from an agricultural republic to a highly urbanized society. This is popularly known as the American Industrial Revolution. The first cause that brought the change was the technological innovations in transportation, housing construction and development of railroads that enabled people to put up factories and industries and machinery. In addition, there was enough labor because a huge number of immigrants from Russia, Italy and the Irish side came to America. Population growth necessitated a change from the agrarian lifestyle. A large number of Americans were also becoming educated and understood that the agrarian life was not sufficient (Ashton 1).
Urbanization refers to the surge of population in cities and towns as opposed to rural areas that leads to transformation of residential, industrial and commercial lives of people. In the period between 1870 and 192, several factors contributed to the rise of new urban centers both horizontally and vertically. First, the immigrants who came to the United States contributed to the growth of new urban centers. In addition, rural-urban migration also contributed to the growth of urban areas. The development of industries and factories also led to the rise of urban areas because of the rural-urban migration. The professionals like lawyers, merchants and manufacturers built townhouses concentrating and helping in the development of towns.
The rise of urban centers influenced politics in the sense that it led to the rise of powerful politicians who rose to demand better life standards for the people in the urban areas. Urbanization brought with it a change in the way of life. This encouraged the rise of politics where political bosses helped people to get employment and better living conditions. A new kind of political system arose to deal with urban problems (Ashton 30).
The nature of Gilded Age politics from 1876 to 1896
The Term Gilded Age was developed by Mark Twain to refer to the period between 1876 and 1896 that was marked by major economic and industrial growth and competitive politics. The standards of modern politics in the US took shape during this period meaning that aspects of economic and political corruption were widespread during this period. The Republican Party dominated the national politics during the time giving the democratic party little to do in the national politics especially because of issues of political corruption. The parties were evenly distributed. The political parties were responsible for legislative purposes at the local, state and national levels (Calhoun 1).
The branch of the government that dominated the national policy was the congress. Congress was supposed to pass important bills that would see the government function efficiently but that was not the case. The congress was rowdy, corrupt and inefficient and had members who came to the house drunk or pre-occupied on their personal issues.
The president and the vice president were supposed to have certain qualifications. The two were expected to be members of certain political parties. The political party must have nominated the president and the vice president. The issue of the majority of the popular vote was not required. Presidents were not supposed to have strong opinions (Calhoun 32).
The three major issues that dominated the Gilded Age were competitive politics, industrial growth and economic growth. Politics were highly associated with the economic welfare of the country and it is essential to state that politics were marked by rampant cases of corruption. Industrial growth was also at its height because of urbanization where people had migrated from rural areas to towns, to work in industries. Industrialization led to economic growth because of the manufacturing that had replaced the agricultural society (Calhoun 34).