After the civil war America was left in political upheaval; Radical Republicans took control of the nation, leaving the states (especially the Southern States) with little to no power political power. Republicans sought to farther their capitalist ventures through this new national power.
”The Republicans wanted to validate national power, not only to preserve the votes necessary to enable them to stay in office, but also to be of continuing assistance to the industrial and financial interests that they were seeking to win as party allies.”
One of the biggest money making profits to be had during this time was the expansion of the railroad; along with the expansion of agriculture due to the Homestead Act of 1862; as well as tariff policies for manufacturing industries. This expansion created an economic boom for the North and the West; and as the reconstruction went on it became much more clear that the Northern Radical Republicans did not have much interest in furthering the rights of the America’s newly acquired black citizens.
“In the latter stages of Reconstruction, Northern concern for the rights of black people was waning. There was decreasing support in Congress for the kind of sustained effort necessary to protect the rights of black citizens against the violent and lawless campaign of the white South to resubjugate the former slaves.”
The “violent and lawless campaign” this quote talks about is referring to the organization of the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan committed violent acts against black people in order to prevent their participation in democracy.
“The bitter opposition of white Southerners led to the organization of the Ku Klux Klan, which began a campaign of violence against blacks to prevent them from voting and from asserting in other ways their equal rights.”
Other problems began to arise due to a corrupt Grand administration around the same time that support for black civil rights began to wane:
“The Grant administration was riddled by corruption. Extensive speculation in various securities and too-rapid expansion in several industries had weakened the banking system to such a point that a major bank collapsed. The resulting Panic of 1873 led to several years of falling prices and unemployment.”
The economic, political, and social environment during this era and that of the environment that led to the Housing Bubble of 2008 are quite similar in nature. The idea of Social Darwinism, a laissez-faire economic policy, protection of property rights, and a focus on individualism; are all components of the nature of our country today. The fear of becoming a communist country has led to a demonization of social programs that help create a balanced healthy economy for all. In trying so hard not to become a communist country, we have created a capitalist country that behaves more like a communist country than a democratic one. Our current democracy is being overrun by the owners of private corporations who became rich and privileged through the systematic oppression of others. The cause of this systematic oppression originates back to the founding of America; and is continually seen taking place throughout the history of America.
“Liberalism in the last half of the nineteenth century was decisively individualist, property-oriented, and laissez-faire. Its doctrines were synonymous with the needs of capitalist expansion.”
As I was reading through the Reconstruction text in the section named Other Reform Movements I wondered if the meaning of nationality for America began to change at this time?