At what point in the years prior to the Civil War did the outbreak of war between the North and the South become inevitable? Discuss reasons for this choice.
A civil can be defined as a conflict between nationals of the same country. In my opinion, what made the American Civil War inevitable was slavery. When pro-slavery and anti-slavery started arming themselves, outbreak of a war became inevitable. There was division between the North and the South. Southern states were particularly strongholds of slave trade, while the North considered the trade as being against human rights. Slaves were captured in Africa and sold in the United States.
In fact the Southerners were so serious with their trade that they made sure that an act was passed in their favor. The act was called The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It required all US citizens to help capture runaway slaves. Anyone found to be hosting or helping a fugitive would be imprisoned or fined a hefty sum of money. The Southerners went to an extent of even going to capture African Americans who had been living freely in the North. They even captured African Americans who had not escaped and forced them to become slaves (Murrin 452).
In spite of there being laws to enhance slavery, the Northerners ensured that they did not cooperate with the Southerners. Actually, some of them helped escaped slaves to safety. There was a group of whites and African Americans known as the Underground Railroad. This group helped escaped slaves to freedom. Together with other anti-slavery groups, they rescued those who were being pursued as well as those who had already been captured by the Southerners. This movement was so strong, especially in states such as Boston. An anti-slavery group was once heard shouting to policemen, “Slave hunters-there go the slave hunters” (Stanchak 454).
In November 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States of America. During that time, he was not very popular especially in the South. Lincoln had been nominated by the Republicans. The plan was that the states which were practicing slavery were to be left alone, while ensuring that slavery did not spread to other states (Jordan 356). He won against Douglas, since the democrats were divided at the time. Southerners did not trust Lincoln and his government. They believed that he would disturb their already established trade and free labor from slaves. In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede. In February 1861, southern states formed the Confederate States of America. In April 1861, the forces from the south attacked Fort Sumter, and the civil war began.
Was Reconstruction a success or a failure? Provide evidence for your choice.
The United States of America has gone through many changes. These changes have been in many ways related to politics, social life, as well as technological advancement. In particular, there have been many political changes. For example, the American Civil War took its toll on the country. After it ended, a ‘reconstruction’ started. There were many goals, leaders and accomplishments. By the time it ended, it was labeled a failure as well as a failure by different parties.
The Reconstruction began in the year 1865, immediately after the civil war. It was a time to correct mistakes that had been done by the whole nation, both the North and the South. However, it was not an easy task. There were still vivid memories of the war- the deaths that had occurred as well as those who had been left crippled as a result. Hatred and resentment were the result. The 13th amendment in the year 1865 had led to about four million slaves being freed in the South. They lived amongst the population, not knowing what to look forward for in life. They were happy to be free but had no idea how to earn a living (Murrin 467).
The south was looking for a way back in very desperately. It had been alienated both politically and economically. Political leaders took center stage as usual. They came up with Reconstruction plans. Each of them was certain that their plan was the best. One of the leaders was Abraham Lincoln. He came up with the Lincoln Plan. In this plan, he set out certain criteria that had to be met for any state wishing to rejoin. Ten per cent of the total number of voters had to agree to free slaves and pledge their loyalty to the union. Other leaders also came up with their plans, for example the Republican Party, who called themselves the Radicals. They blamed the south for the civil war and wanted to punish them (Johannsen 448).
Later, the congress came up with the Reconstruction Act. However, the Act was rocked by politics as expected. It went through many amendments until it was finally passed. It required each state to change their 14th amendment in order to rejoin the state. They had also to agree that anyone born in the US was a citizen and should be granted equal treatment according to the law. By 1870, African Americans were also allowed to vote. The Southerners came up with their own laws in order to make life hard for the freed African Americans. This was because they could not disobey the law directly. But at least the laws were in place and worked, albeit to some extent (Nelson 236).
Though people are still debating on whether the Reconstruction was a success or a failure, personally I think it was a success. Though it was not as successful as many would have wanted it to be, it was a step in the right direction. Laws that had been set up were not being followed strictly, but at least laws to protect African Americans’ rights had been set up. This was a major step toward better things. Without the 14th and 15th amendments and the Reconstruction, for example, women would not have the courage to fight for their own rights. Suffrage leaders, who were many in number, would look back to the African American history with hope of some day being recognized.