In what way and to what extent did constitutional and social developments from 1860-1877 amount to a revolution? (1996 DBQ question).

Essay by v_valentin91High School, 12th gradeA, December 2005

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The United States was in a very turbulent time period between 1860 and 1877. Those dates saw the Civil War cast its horrendous shadow over America, as well as the rise and fall of Reconstruction. Changes that occurred during this time period are staggering, to say the least. Developments in both constitutional and social areas from 1860 to 1877 can be considered to have been a revolution.

The Civil War was, obviously, the first revolution that occurred during this time period. With the election of Lincoln in 1860, South Carolina announced its secession from the Union. They seized the federal Ft. Sumpter which lay off their coast and Lincoln ordered federal troops to protect the fort. This set off a chain reaction of secession which finally resulted in the formation of the Confederate States of America. In South Carolina's Declaration of Causes of Secession, the reasons for leaving the Union are outlines.

Evident thorough all of it is the development of an interpretation of the Constitution as a pact between states that may be broken if the states so choose. From that arises the basic premise of states' rights: that states, and not government, are the sovereign entities. While not a new idea, the development of such thinking during this time period, this lack of nationality if you will, led to the Confederate rebellion according to John Sherman, a Senator from Ohio in the 1860s.

The plight of blacks during this time period is extremely significant. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution gave them their freedom. Because of this constitutional development many more developments followed. In 1865, African American citizens petitioned the Union convention in Tennessee for the right to vote because they had helped put down the rebellion. civil Rights was the objective of the Freemen & Edict...