In what ways and to what extent did constitutional and social developments between 1860 and 1877 amount to a revolution?

Essay by 2hvy4grvty December 2007

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During the 1860s and the 1870s, Americans faced a social crisis that literally divided the nation to two. Social developments and constitutional changes that occurred within this time frame amounted to a devastating separation of people. The first major crisis, the Civil War, divided the nation sectionally and what ensued afterward, the Reconstruction, divided the nation completely.

The Civil War lasted four years, from April of 1861 to April of 1865. It physically separated the nation into two, in which the South seceded from the North. The two sides fought for the struggle over slavery - the South was for it, while the North was against it. The South argued that the North was attempting to limit their rights given to them by the Constitution; their rights to exercise those powers were restrained heavily by the politically dominant North. The North at first made a statement stating that the main purpose of the war was to maintain the Union and to keep the South from breaking apart.

However, as the war went on, Lincoln found fighting for these terms was impossible; he knew that the slaves had to be freed. This decision to abolish slavery stirred up controversy in the Union, for many white men, while they opposed slavery, did not like the idea that they were fighting for African-Americans. Many riots erupted from many Union states come draft day, clearly showing the unsettlement and dissatisfaction that Americans had with the idea of freeing slaves. The North not only had to deal with the South, but also with themselves.

Following the Civil War, a period of time known as the Reconstruction came into effect. This was the time where the North attempted to rebuild the South and the time for the South to settle their differences and...