Politically Assessing the Consequences Post Civil War

Politically Assessing the Consequences Post Civil War -...

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Murdock 1 Zak Murdock AMST 1101 4 March 2010 Politically Examining the Troubles of Post Civil War America Upon reading Eric Cheyfitz’s article, “The America We Know,” one may be led to think about what America was defined as in different time periods. More specifically, what was the America we know like during the Post Civil War Reconstruction period? With a single shot of John Wilkes Booth’s pistol, one of the greatest Presidents of the United States was dead. During this time period the Civil War was barely over and America was in a state of moral and political chaos, Abraham Lincoln’s death could not have come at a worse time (Brogan 51). Lincoln was a great leader, a brave innovator, and a progressive politician. He was the man who held a struggling America together and his death could not have come at a worse time for the nation. Lincoln’s assassination marked the beginning of political chaos within America’s leaders, and also destined the south to years of many divisions and racial struggles (The Presidents) (Brogan 54). Lincoln’s death, along with the end of the Civil War, led to many consequences for America. Andrew Johnson’s presidency, the economic, political, and racial struggles in the south, and a plethora of corrupt political leaders all were consequences of the Civil War and Lincoln’s passing. At the time following Lincoln’s death, a strong political leader was needed to take advantage of a great opportunity for America to bounce back. The country was in need of a leader to begin a free America and to unite the nation’s people. Unfortunately,
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Murdock 2 Andrew Johnson was not the man America needed. Many people of this time were hoping for a leader similar to Lincoln, however, as a Democrat from the state of Tennessee, Johnson never was able to fill Lincoln’s shoes (The Presidents). He became his own man and distanced himself from Congress. Johnson was viewed as self-centered, prejudiced, and never seemed to really understand the complexity of the war that had taken place. Post Civil War America was in need of a leader who truly believed in equality for both blacks and whites, however, as a white southerner, Johnson’s feelings towards blacks were mixed. These feelings were seen in his instruction to ex-rebel states to assemble state constitutions and allow ex-confederate leaders to control these state governments (Brogan 67). Johnson gave these states exclusive power over their own affairs, which was detrimental to the freedmen of the South (Brogan 70). Violence against the freedmen became ordinary and due to the introduction of “Black Codes” in many southern states, blacks were denied all but their basic civil rights. Johnson was
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