• Monthly Archives: March 2015

Reconstruction

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?

Women, Race, and Class

After the struggle of reconstruction, many wondered and worried about who had what rights and what rights people were entitled to. This conflict could be found to reside in American societies that had inequality within class, race, and gender. When the conflict between race and gender rose up between the women’s movement and the antislavery movement the alliance that was once bonded these two factions now separated them. Women were told they were the lessor of their white male counterparts as well lessor than black males with the ability of voting. Women were outraged. Well educated white women were outraged.
A division of the entire nation had not been resolved, so different people with different problems associated with inequality were all fighting to become equal in the eyes of the constitution. Now freed slaves were fighting to acquire the rights of their male counterparts and yet the American political system did not allow for the advancement of their rights. People from differing economic classes also were fighting to have their needs met, but were not recognized as swiftly as other warring factions of American political society. Women wanted equality also. But their insubordination to their white male counterparts was found to be encased within the patriarchal structure of Americanism and (now discredited) the sciences of the time. The science of the time found that women, as well as blacks and the poor, were of a certain position in life for no other reason, but that they were incapable of climbing up the structural ladder of life.
Social Darwinism was the flame that needed to be smothered during this time period. Race, gender, and class alike were lumped into a group of undesirable people that were still necessary for the extension and existence of American life, but yet unworthy of full participation based on their statuses of less than. Women rebuked this status and fought against the structure that condemned them into a classification deeming them unworthy of equal participation of American society based on their ability to create future superiors.
This classification of less than for women was not something that women were willing to succumb to. Women knew that although the rights of all Americans were imperative for the existence of society, they learned that to fully address the unequal rights of women they needed to depart from their alliances within other movements. This separation to focus primarily on women’s rights was the only way that they thought could accomplish their goals of becoming an equal with their white male counterparts. A nation divided yet again to eventuate future changes to other structures of inequality within America.
I am not advocating for the separation of groups within America as a resolution to social issues that the nations faces, but the women of this time learned that when their issues within inequality were not being resolved, they changed the way that they approached the problems so that a resolution could occur. My question, what if women’s movement remained combined with the other factions that faced inequality of this time period? Do you think that the innovative nature of the women’s movement could have been applied to make changes in inequality within the class and race movements?

Reconstruction and Industrialization

Gender became the next large-scale social movement instead of class because deep in our founding documents there is one line everyone in history recites, “All Men are Created Equal.” Now, I am not saying that men are a far superior gender than women, but rather the precedence and conflict that comes out of that famous line. Precedence because in the Declaration of Independence was the first document that started the United States. Every social or people movement talk about this equality whenever they discuss the reason of why masses of people gather. It is the fuel of this line that gives women a opportunity to create conflict.

Women feel left out from the very beginning and have every right to be angry with the establishment. This is where the suffrage movement begins. Out of anger and feelings of have no voice, the women revolt and go against the grain. They won their right to vote and in doing so changed the course of United States history forever.

When I think about the gender vs. class issue, I keep thinking about the idea of capitalism. Government at the turn of the 20th Century is already dealing with recessions, depressions, and monopolies. The same issues we face today. Money speaks to power and power answers back. I feel women’s rights was one of the more less controversial movements during its time. Classism is a whole another ball and wax that we still to this day have not settled. It is because we live in a capitalist society and there are the have’s and the have not’s. No one was to take on the classism issue because you either wind up in jail or assassinated. Or you sell out everything you believe in to the system that controls everything, capitalism.

After reading the text, I found this quote that is interesting, “The field for socialism appeared fertile if European ideas and Indigenous American experience could be fused into a broad-based movement (Cummings, 316).”

I think that if we were able to blend this notion of European ideas and Indigenous knowledge, we would have had a different outlook on our country and the world. I think we wouldn’t have had a women’s suffrage movement and classism would not have been an issue. As a Native American, I believe many of my ideals stem from Communism and Socialism if you want to take the vocabulary of an uneducated Anglo.

Do you think if we blended European and Indigenous ideas together would the United States be the same as it is today?

Reconstruction

Post-Civil War America was a confusing, lost America. Mixed emotions were sweeping the nation. Southerner’s were upset with the result of the war. They were angry over the loss of their slaves and the loss of their loved ones. And their anger led to violence and formation of white power groups, such as the KKK. While notherner’s should have been celebrating the win and abolition of the slaves, many were mourning the loss not only of their loved ones but of their beloved president, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln had proposed plans for renewal of the country and building a better one that he was never able to carry out. Instead, reconstruction was left in the hands of Andrew Johnson. Johnson wasn’t able to accomplish much because of “radical republicans.” This shows what Johnson was able to accomplish.

My question would be not only what would reconstruction have looked like if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated. But what would present day America look like? What would healthcare in the US look like?

Post Civil War

After the Civil War there was a lot of things that changed America. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments really brought out a lot of emotion. Elizabeth Cady Stanton gives women two reasons on why they should oppose the 15th amendment. I feel that these reasons are still relevant to this day. This was important because it showed how Stanton really stood up for women. Blacks being allowed to vote before women was a big issue to some people. It was like saying black men are more important to women, which many people disagreed. This was an important part of history because this was something many people were not expecting. Related to today, there is still much inequality that people face. For example, business owners are allowed to deny service to whoever they want. Recently we have seen services being denied to same-sex couples. Seeing as there is so much inequality in our world today, do you think that we will ever have full equality? Do you think that our society needs oppression in order to funtcion?

Susan B. Anthony

The Reconstruction period was a period of decision for how to handle the  newly granted freedom to the African American’s of the United States. During this time, women suffragists began to make a greater presence when constitutional amendments were being proposed. With amendments being drafted granting African-Americans the rights they deserved, women wanted in. Susan B. Anthony most notably fought for the inclusion of women in the right to vote. When Anthony was tired for voting, she most eloquently made her case whether the men in charge wanted to hear it or not. When the judge tells Anthony that she must be tried by the established laws, she answers back:

Yes, your honor, but by forms of law all made by men, interpreted by men, administered by men, in favor of men, and against women; and hence, your honor’s ordered verdict of guilty, against a United States citizen for the exercise of  “that citizen’s right to vote,” simply because that citizen was a woman and not a man. (Cummings. p.326)

Continually the judge tells Anthony to be quite, essentially not wanting to hear her practical reasoning.

This immediately brings to mind the fight for women’s reproductive rights, giving women the right to decide when they will become mothers. Even with more women having a presence in law making, men are still the majority which brings to question who has the right, if any right at all, to determine a woman’s reproductive rights. The fight for women’s reproductive rights has been a constant battle.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/42-years-after-roe-v-wade-womens-reproductive-rights-danger

My question is: Do you think the majority has the right to make rules for minorities (or in this case men for women)? What would be a solution to this?

Reconstruction/Revival

The Reconstruction period after the Civil War, could be analogous to a zit that was finally popped. The zit being the built up tensions between slave states and the north, the Civil War was the popping of the zit, and Reconstruction was the puss. With the aftermath of the Civil War, amendments to the Constitution were necessary to enact new ideas and policies. Ex-Confederate states were required to ratify Amendments 14 and 15 in order to be readmitted to the Union. Even with the new face lift in the south, those who sought to oppress found new avenues. With a black majority in many former slave states, the Ku Klux Klan was able to rise to power. Voter intimidation, lynchings, and other late night raids, became rampant in the south. Radical administrations of Republicans took root in the south to try to quell and make those in the south submissive. Without the institution of slavery, the southern economy inverted as the northern economy began to boom. The south became a monolith of a dead society, prominent slave owning families had trouble adjusting to the new dynamic and thus fell through the cracks. Even today, resentment exists in the south and southern pride is predominant.

Would many of the ugly acts and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan exist today if Reconstruction had been slowly implemented in the south? Would feelings such as resentment still persist today? Could black lives somehow have been protected if the transition was gradual? There would have been a trade-off in this scenario, where black lives could possibly have been protected, but their freedom would still be restrained. Would this have been ethical?

Reconstruction: A New Union

The period after the Civil War was a time of uncertainty and disaster, especially for the former confederate states and the future of freed African Americans. To make matters worse, Abe Lincoln, who had a plan to reshape America, was killed which now put matters into the hands of Andrew Johnson. The text describes how “radical republicans” in Congress made matters difficult for Andrew Johnson to get positive work done and even went as far as impeachment (308). The 14th Amendment was eventually created and passed which gave equal rights to freed slaves in 1868. This led to even more problems, especially among white southerners, which led to groups such as the “Ku Klux Klan” to be formed for violent purposes against freed slaves. People just kinda went crazy during this time after the war, resorting to violence in order to get their points across. Labor was also a topic during this period in which people were unhappy with wages and working conditions. This period was one certainly one of the most miserable times in American history, but I argue it was also a great time for renewal. Reforms such as the industrial unionization and new ideas such as Socialism and Social Darwinism swept the nation, giving many people new perspectives and opening up a lot of possibilities.

“The message was that riches were to be gathered, and merit was measured by money” (310). It appears that around this time is when Capitalism was beginning to take it’s grip on American Society. People’s love for money and wealth began to grow even bigger.

My question for the class is how would the reconstruction period have turned out if Abraham Lincoln had lived and finished his presidency? What could he have done that Andrew Johnson couldn’t?

0509001r

Reconstruction

Gender became the next largest social movement because women wanted the same rights as men. In the early days of reconstruction, African American men were getting the right to vote in certain areas. It was a slow process, but I can see how women saw that as an opportunity for their voice to be heard as well. Labor laws didn’t favor women at all, they got paid significantly less than men did and wanted to change this. “Millions of working people were engaged in day-to-day struggles with their employers throughout this period” (page 314 Cummings) which was the labor movement. This started to incorporate a social movement and not a class structured social movement like social Darwinism insisted. Although the rights for African Americans were strong in the northern states, it started to wane through the late 1800’s, but women’s groups saw this as an opportunity to gain recognition and so the voices of their beliefs could be heard. Women’s groups also used the crisis of 1894-1896 to also garner that attention for social rights not only for themselves but other groups used it as well, as America was grappling with an economic downturn. The economic downturn passed and still not even the right to vote for women. There was a peril between political parties in what problems to prioritize because of the fallout between reforms to the tax code. “Grover Cleveland had grudgingly accepted the revival of the income tax pushed by William Jennings Bryan” (page 317 Cummings) was a focal point for the late 1890’s and early 1900’s which then stalled many efforts for social reform.

The beginning of Today

After the Civil War many Americans looked to themselves and thought to themselves “now what?” The period after the Civil War is known as Reconstruction, and it was a time of reconstructing the Union to its original glory, although  without slavery. The South was trying to gain a new identity, while many in the South wanted to stay above blacks for the satisfaction for their superiority complex. Many new industries start expanding, the National Government starts expanding its power, and new type of conflict starts to rise involving the class divisions between the haves and have-not’s. The Reconstruction period saw the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. The Thirteenth abolished legal slavery, the fourteenth established the citizenship through birth and states that each citizen of the United States shall be treated equally, and the fifteenth made it so that citizens shall not be denied the right to vote. A sixteenth Amendment was considered that would allow women the right to vote, but that fell through. The would be sixteenth amendment was supported by The  former Confederacy was mainly controlled by the North and passed many laws to keep it that. Congress was controlled by radical Republicans who supported equal rights for black people, and even fought against president Andrew Johnson who wanted to allow the former Confederacy to form provisional governments that those states could run themselves. “Congress… repudiate Johnson’s actions, refused to seat representatives from the Southern states, and declare its intention to conduct its own reconstruction program involving strong national control.” (307) Ultimately after the election of 1876, the Democrat had won the popular vote; however, the Republicans argued against it and eventually negotiated with each other allowing the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes on 1877 in exchange the withdraw of federal troops from the South and in effect return the Southern states to have their own governments.

After Reconstruction the new politics will be debated for many years all the way up to today. In 1877, a railroad wage cut resulted in a national railroad workers strike that resulted in the rise of the new politics that challenged sectional policies. “The nation was now shifting toward a conflict between capital and labor. The political values and ideas of agrarian liberalism would have to be adapted to the new conditions of an urban, industrial society.” (310) This new era of transition from the conflict between North and South to the conflict between capitalists and labor. Masses of new immigrants showed up and started a debate over immigration. Many of these new immigrants were recruited by industrialists to come and work. The unemployment rate was also high causing even more tension between the capitalists and labor unions. Capitalists started forming trusts in order to form monopolies in certain industries, and was excused through the use of Social Darwinism that states that “riches were to be gathered, and merit was measured by money.” (310)This conflict would be mostly one sided with the capitalist’s having the most power until the start of the 1900’s.