History of the USA

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of that month, Lee surrendered at APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE. Confederate president Jefferson DAVIS intended to fight on, but it was hopeless. The Civil War was over.


A Nation Transformed: The North


The war had transformed both North and South. On Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln had issued his EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, declaring slavery dead wherever rebellion existed (in the border states, it was terminated by later local action). In addition, the enormous war effort taught the North lessons in modern organization and the use of large corporations. In Washington the Republican majority enacted a classically Hamiltonian program: high protective tariffs, lavish aid to capitalists to build railroads and exploit natural resources, free homestead grants for settlers, and banking and currency legislation that created one national system of paper money. The MORRILL ACT of 1862 provided grants of land for the establishment of land- grant universities in each state to train the agriculturalists, engineers, and other professionals needed to run an industrialized economy.


The two-party system survived in the North despite the war. Democrats never sank below 40 percent of the vote because many northerners opposed the conflict, or at least Republican policies. In the DRAFT RIOTS of 1863, Irish Catholics and other New Yorkers fiercely protested the new conscription law, which seemed a special hardship to poor people. The rioters, as well as many other northerners, were hostile toward abolition; they feared that Republican policies would send hordes of freed slaves northward to compete for jobs. Democrats also opposed the powerful centralizing tendencies of the programs pushed by the Republicans, as well as their aid to capitalists.




A week after Appomattox, Lincoln was assassinated. Now Andrew JOHNSON assumed office and moved quickly to establish a plan for RECONSTRUCTION. He asked southern whites only to repudiate debts owed by the Confederacy, declare secession null and void, and ratify the 13TH AMENDMENT (which declared slavery illegal). When Congress convened in December 1865, newly elected southerners were already on the scene waiting to be admitted to their seats. Many of them had been elected on the basis of BLACK CODES, established in the southern states in 1865-66 to restore a form of quasi-slavery. To the shocked and angered North, it seemed that the sufferings endured in the war had been in vain: politics as before the war--only now with a powerful southern Democratic bloc in Congress--would resume.


The Republican majority in Congress refused to admit southern legislators to their seats until a congressional committee reexamined the entire question of Reconstruction. Soon, Radical Republicans (those who wished to use the victory as an opportunity to remake the South in the Yankee image) were in open conflict with Johnson. He attempted to terminate the FREEDMENS BUREAU (an agency established in 1865 to aid refugees) and to veto legislation aimed at protecting the civil rights of former slaves (see CIVIL RIGHTS ACTS). In the congressional election of 1866 a huge majority of Republicans was elected, and the Radicals gained a precarious ascendancy. Senator Charles SUMNER of Massachusetts and Representative Thaddeus STEVENS (New England-born) of Pennsylvania were among the leaders of the Radical cause.


The 14TH AMENDMENT (enacted in 1866; ratified in 1868) made all persons born or naturalized in the country U.S. citizens and forbade any state to interfere with their fundamental civil rights. In March 1867 all state governments in the South were terminated and military occupation established. Federal commanders were charged with reconstructing southern governments through constitutional conventions, to which delegates were to be elected by universal male suffrage. After a new state government was in operation and had ratified the 14th Amendment, its representatives would be admitted to Congress. In February 1868 an impeachment effort sought unsuccessfully to remove President Johnson from office.


The Republican majority in Congress made no significant effort to create social equality for blacks, but only to give them the vote and to ensure them equal protection under the law (trial by jury, freedom of movement, the right to hold office and any employment, and the like). This political equality would give blacks an equal start, Republicans insisted, and they would then carry the burden of proving themselves equal in other ways. Yet Republicans well knew that antiblack attitudes persisted in the North as well as in the South. Until ratification (1870) of the 15TH AMENDMENT, which made it illegal to deny the vote on the grounds of race, most northern states refused blacks the vote.


A Nation Transformed: The South


Like the North, the South was transformed by the Civil War and its aftermath. Southerners had learned lessons in the effectiveness of a strong central government and realized the impossibility of continuing the old ways of the antebellum period. Former Whigs in the South, often called Conservatives, pushed eagerly to build industry and commerce in the Yankee style. Meanwhile, reconstructed southern state governments enacted many reforms, establishing free public schools for all, popular election of all officials, more equitable taxes, and more humane penal laws.


Republican Ulysses S. Grant was elected president in 1868 with electoral votes gained in occupied southern states. Democrats alleged that Radical Reconstruction was not genuinely concerned with aiding black people, but with using southern black votes to keep the Republicans in power in Congress and to retain their protective tariffs and other aids to industrialists. When evidence of corruption surfaced during the Grant administration, Democrats declared that it proved that the outcome of Republican friendliness to capitalists was graft and plunder.


By 1870 the antisouthern mood that had supported Radical Reconstruction had faded, as had the surge of concern for southern blacks. New domestic problems were pushing to the fore. A resurgence of white voting in the South, together with the use of violence to intimidate blacks and their white sympathizers, brought southern states back into Democratic hands. Northerners, awakened to economic questions by the great depression that began in 1873 and lasted for 5 years, tacitly agreed to return the race issue to the control of southern whites.


After the disputed election of 1876, amid evidence of electoral corruption, the Republican presidential candidate promised to withdraw the last federal occupation troops from the South. The election was decided by a congressional electoral commission, and Rutherford B. HAYES became president. As promised, he withdrew (1877) the troops; Reconstruction was over.




The era known as the GILDED AGE (1870s to 1890s) was a time of vigorous, exploitative individualism. Despite widespread suffering by industrial workers, southern sharecroppers, displaced American Indians, and other groups, a mood of optimism possessed the United States. The theories of the English biologist Charles Darwin--expounded in The Origin of Species (1859)--concerning the natural selection of organisms best suited to survive in their environment began to influence American opinion. Some intellectuals in the United States applied the idea of the survival of the fittest to human societies (SOCIAL DARWINISM) and arrived at the belief that government aid to the unfortunate was wrong.


Industrialization and Large-Scale Exploitation of NaturalResources


During the Gilded Age ambitious and imaginative capitalists ranged the continent looking for new opportunities. Business lurched erratically from upswings to slumps, while the countrys industrial base grew rapidly. Factories and mines labored heavily through these years to provide the raw materials and finished products needed for expansion of the railroad system. In 1865 (as construction of the first TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD was underway; completed 1869) approximately 56,000 km (35,000 mi) of track stretched across the United States; by 1910 the total reached about 386,000 km (240,000 mi) of interconnected uniform-gauge track. By 1890 the United States contained one-third of the worlds railroad trackage.


After new gold and silver discoveries in the late 1850s, until about 1875, individual prospectors explored the western country and desert basins in search of mineral riches. Then mining corporations took over, using hired laborers and eastern- trained engineers. Indians were either brutally exterminated or placed on small reservations. Warfare with the Great Plains Indians broke out in 1864; these INDIAN WARS did not entirely subside until after the slaughtering of the buffalo herds, the basis of Indian life, which had occurred by the mid-1880s. Through the DAWES ACT of 1887, which forced most Indians to choose 160-acre (65-ha) allotments within their reservations, reformers hoped to break down tribal bonds and induce Indians to take up sedentary agriculture. Unallocated reservation lands were declared surplus and sold to whites.


Cattle ranching was the first large-scale enterprise to invade the Great Plains beginning in the late 1860s. By the 1880s, however, the open range began to give way to fenced pastureland and to agriculture, made possible by the newly invented barbed- wire fence and by "dry farming," a technique of preserving soil moisture by