The civil war was an extremely important part of american history and was a time where our nation was the most divided as it has ever been. Many factors including the issues of states rights, westward expansion, and most importantly, slavery, were what finally caused the north and south to fight against each other in order to settle their differences once and for all.
The north had many advantages over the south that helped lead them to their victory including higher population, an established government to raise money for the war efforts, an industrialized economy, and an extensive railroad system, while the only main advantage the south had was their top of the line military generals. Although the north ultimately came out victorious, this was not the end of the ongoing disagreements between the two sides. The period after the civil war ended was called the reconstruction era, where in an effort to rebuild the south after the war, three main reconstruction plans were created, all of which ultimately failed to solve the underlying problems in the end.
In 1863, president Abraham Lincoln created the emancipation proclamation which declared freedom for all previously captive slaves. The emancipation proclamation was not very effective since his authority was not taken seriously and slaves were not banned in all parts of the country, but it was important since it lead to the passing of the 13th amendment which formally freed slaves once and for all.
Lincoln had the authority to pass the law not as the president, but as the commander in chief. The document also lead to slaves being allowed to serve as union soldiers which would be a significant gain for the union. The emancipation proclamation helped bring our nation closer to the founding principle that all men of the united states are created equal.
After the civil war the reconstruction era took place with many conflicting ideas on how to reconstruct the south. The first plan for reconstruction was created by Abraham Lincoln and required 1/10 of eligible voters in any confederate state had the ability to vote and rejoin the Union. The second plan was created by the new president Andrew Johnson and required a majority of voters to take an oath of allegiance and to ratify the 14th the 15th amendments. The plan that was ultimately used was the congressional plan which required a majority of voters to pledge their allegiance and to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.
The freedmen’s bureau was aid given to former slaves who were now free men to help provide them with many resources such as food, housing, medical aid, legal assistance, and education. This assistance greatly helped recently freed slaves to be able to get out of extreme poverty and provide them with the basic necessities. The civil rights act of 1866 declared that any person born on american soil was a US citizen regardless of race or gender.
The plans and ideas of reconstruction were ultimately a failure in the end due to racism and prejudice being deeply ingrained into the american society and failed to completely settle the differences between the north and the south. During this short period of time, america accomplished amazing feats in creating a more equal and tolerant country compared to how brutal and unfair it was before the civil war.
Before, slaves were only viewed as property instead of human beings but are now considered full american citizens thanks to the civil rights act. The freedmen’s bureau helped contribute to former slaves slowly begin to work their way up the social and economic ladder and bridge the enormous advantage that white men had over black men.
Many important changes were made during this period of time that helped shape america into the free country as we know it today. Many reasons that certain plans were not entirely successful was because the underlying problems, racism and prejudice throughout the country, were not solved and left many more problems for our country to face even after all men were declared free and equal.