Essay Sample. Post-Civil War America

Published: 2023-01-19
Essay Sample. Post-Civil War America
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World War 2 American Civil War World War 1 American history
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1806 words
16 min read

In 1865, a young America was recovering from war when President Lincoln was assassinated. This threw it back to instability and a disruption of the economy that was beginning to regain strength. However, despite this, the post-civil war America was a period of reform and justice, especially to marginalized populations. Although the Unites States participated in the civil war for only a few months, the impact of the ban of exports to France and Germany slowed down the economy. For instance, the abolishment of slavery and resettling of the freed slaves was a major achievement for the Black community that had been marginalized. Lincoln's greatest achievement was the abolishment of slave trade and segregation during voting. It was made an offense to prevent bar anyone from voting based on their race, nationality, or servitude. This is why Lincoln's assassination raised aggression among the Black community. It was also after the war that the south had tried to secede, but President Andrew Johnson was quick to unite the South and North despite Congress being dominated by Northerners (Barro, 1986). President Johnson's actions meant to include the Southerners in the government and make them feel part of America since the majority of the former slaves resided in the South. It was also during this time that America accepted the highest number of immigrants from Asia and Africa in search of better jobs. Freed slaves were also allowed to own farms to gain financial independence. Although the right to own land was met with resistance and resulted in bloodshed, the US army helped the effort, which later settled the Black community. Thus, despite this, post-civil war America was a period of reform and justice, especially to marginalized populations.

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The Gilded Age was a disorganized time for the United States, which was driven by capitalism and individualism. During a time that the country was still recovering from the adverse effects of war, the rich took the chance to exploit the poor and gather more wealth for themselves. In contrast to this spirit came the progressive era during which America tried to embrace the communism spirit, although not fully. The progressive era was able to restore equality and a communal sense that accumulated wealth for society and not individuals. It was during the progressive age that Charles Sheldon spread religious messages, which achieved change by working hand in hand with institutions that campaigned for reforms. Charles was able to overcome elitism through judicial victories. Change in the progressive era was however slow due to the already deep-rooted individualism, with the only significant change of the 19th century being bringing to an end women suffrage. President Roosevelt also played a major role in ending political tyranny and corruption by replacing political hacks with technocrats. The 1883 Civil Service Reform Act also brought reforms in the federal government by replacing the "spoils system" with a merit system. Employees were no longer picked based on whom they knew, but their qualifications. However, the favoritism system remained in the state governments since the reforms did not apply to them. The education system also transformed by advocating for a better quality of education and funding by the local governments. The progressive era also marked a time of improvement of infrastructure and better planning of urban centers. During the Gilded age, structures had been set up without planning due to greed, which the progressive era brought to an end by having to pull down some structures and re-organize urban settlements (Barro, 1986). Although the reforms were slow due to resistance, it was during this time that the United States restored order.

The post-war era was a time that America experienced rapid growth economically, mended its broken social ties and experienced urban blight, thus described as a time of growing pains. Old structures were replaced with modern and well-planned buildings due to the emergence of new technologies. The industrial expansion was a major factor that motivated the growth of America but brought with it several negative impacts. More Americans were also willing to leave their homes where they were carrying out small-scale agriculture and start working in the urban industries. This was a major cause of rapid urbanization. Amenities that is sanitation, transport, and communication, which were taken for granted in the rural areas became a problem due to overcrowding. Industrialization did not foresee the high rates of crime, congestion, pollution, and disease outbreak. Thus, as much as it led to the economic growth of America, it was at the cost of social development. The four main innovations associated with industrialization were electric lighting, transportation, communication, and housing. These amenities were the most basic that the people working in the industries needed most to deal with the problems they were facing. Immigrants were experiencing an even worse social setup, living in overcrowded tenement houses or cramped rented out apartments with poor sanitation. This is the accommodation they could afford in a foreign country. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and yellow fever were common, with medical care being inaccessible. This led to the death of a number of both local and foreign workers.

Both world wars hurt the economy of America. Although the United States participated in the First World War for only nineteen months, the impact of the ban of exports to France and Germany slowed down the economy. Although the United States' exports to European countries generally rose from $1.47 billion to $4.06 billion, it could have been almost double without the trade blockades (Temin, 1976). Raising the army upkeep and providing weapons was the biggest drain of the economy. The government raised money by increasing income and sales tax, borrowing and printing more money, trying to win a war that they were not sure of the benefits. It was for this reason the US experienced the great depression in the 1930s between the first and Second World War. To reduce the national burden, it required that all were owing it money pay in a bid to raise the economy. The great depression was also characterized by mass unemployment, deflation, a significant decline in production, poverty, and banking panics. In the United States, the Great Depression caused a 47% decline in the Gross Domestic Product (Romer, 1990). However, the Second World War was an awakening time for the United States' economy. The leadership took advantage of a need for more firearms to set up more manufacturing plants, which reduced unemployment by 10% (Vatter, 1985). It was during this time that the US became an economic superpower. All these events affected the low class and marginalized groups since they were directly involved. They were the people on whom the tax was increased to support the army, which made the cost of living higher amid war. The same case happened during the Great Depression. However, the Second World War had a positive, with increased job opportunities. It also allowed more immigrants in the United States to provide labor in fast growing industries.

The decision by the United States government to participate in the Second World War was received with approval and resistance from different groups. America joined the war after Japan attacked an American naval fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This was an offense to the political class, thus joining the war was retaliation for Japan's action. The United States has managed to stay neutral, but this action was taken as a threat. The decision was politically right as an initiative to protect the US borders. Economically, World War II was a drain of the people's effort to build the US (Vatter, 1985). Its decision to join in was not well calculated by estimating the costs and benefits. The US aimed at protecting the rest of America from European invasion, but it led to the creation of trade blockades, which came in the face of extreme spending on the army. The government was spending more than it was generating, a factor that contributed to a decline of its initial economic power. Basic needs, such as food and fuel began to be rationed due to scarcity. This prompted Americans to start growing food in small gardens to supplement the available supply. They even had rationing stamps that ensured each family received just enough to sustain them so that the rest was used to feed soldiers in the battlefield. Besides lacking basic needs, the people lived in insecurity. It was especially hard for American Japanese since their rights were stripped off as a consequence for the Japanese attack. The war also resulted in a reversal of roles as more women started working in industries to manufacture war materials, leaving families without caretaker since most men were in the army. Given all these effects, it is evident that the war was not worth the suffering it brought to citizens, many of whom did not participate or even understand its purpose. The international community was divided along sovereignty lines, with each country trying to outdo the other thus while a part of it supported the decision, others deferred.

The Japanese attack on the naval triggered the US to join the second world war in 1941. At that time, Germany and Italy had an alliance with Japan, so both nations declared war against the US. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor was not the only reason the US joined the war. It had witnessed several sinking of its ships by Germany and referred its expansion into Latin America. The US was afraid that the European states would invade and economically colonize America. This was especially during President Roosevelt's reign during which he implemented the corollary. His corollary was central to the previously existing law, which prohibited interference of other nation's affairs by the United States. The US army took control over other American countries such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Haiti for some time to protect invasion by European nations. The role of the United States in this war was however not very clear since it started as a supplier of firearms on a "cash and carry" basis to France and Britain (Cogley and Sargent, 2001). When it joined the war, the business stopped, and the US became an enemy of the two in a bid to protect Latin America. The biggest motivating factor for the US to go to war was the "international policing" initiated by President Roosevelt. He believed that the US could not continue being neutral when the rest of America's freedom was threatened by Europe due to huge debts. At that moment, Cuba was already experiencing the invasion of debt collectors who were blocking trade in the country. Since the US was already a superpower, it could trample over the law, which prevented it from interfering with the operations of these countries, which was termed as walking quietly with a big stick. That is why the US army ended up fighting against European nation armies outside President Roosevelt's jurisdiction.

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