Equality and Citizenship

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At the end of the Civil war, the Union was faced with rebuilding a war torn nation. The North and South were no longer at war but their differing views on government, race, and individual rights created a deep divide in the country. The war brought freedom to 3.5 million former slaves but also for many women. (Gillon & Matson p.571) With men at war or not returning from the war, women possessed a new level of independence. Blacks and women wanted to be treated fair; they wanted their voices to have relevance in the shaping America. Most of all they wanted equality and citizenship. Many ex-slaves struggled to reposition themselves in this new free country. They found it challenging to move beyond farming or working on the plantations due to the lack of financial resources. They were still not considered equals by many whites in the South or in the North, thus would not be employed by them in other businesses. While they were free from slavery by all accounts it was a false freedom. For former slaves, the Reconstruction plan brought great promise for their individual rights, secured freedom and new opportunities. The Reconstruction period was initially designed by Lincoln to be a time of rebuilding the South. Reconstruction was to aid the South in rebuilding infrastructure damaged in the war but also to help people reconcile the cultural, social and economic changes that came with the end of slavery. Republicans believed that once black men had the right to vote, they could effect and improve their living and economic situations. (Gillon p. 577) Thus, the campaign for black enfranchisement originated. However, the nation struggled to adapt to the end of slavery. Individuals were challenged at the psychological, soci... ... middle of paper ... ...le the battlefields were empty the deep-rooted ideologies and reasons for the war persisted and returned home. The nation remained torn and unable to cope with the social and cultural changes that came with the end of slavery. While good intentions could be found, the nation continued to struggle and obstruct its own progress. The civil rights movement would last for decades and while inequality has improved it can still be found today. Works Cited Buescher, John. “Voting Rights and the 14th Amendment.” National History Education Clearinghouse. N.d. Web. September 16, 2011 Gillon, Steven and Matson, Cathy. The American Experiment a History of the United States. 3rd edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. Print. White,Xan. “Remembering the Colfax Massacre.” Constitutional Accountability Center. April 13,2010. Web. September 20, 2011

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