Civil War Essay Example
Civil War Essay: Preservation through Transformation
Civil War Essay Introduction
In general, periods of radical changes are considered the roots of progress in some areas while reinforcing some of the most oppressive aspects of a given society. In other words, this process can be stated as "preservation through transformation." One can observe this dynamic in many periods of the world and American history, as seen in the post-Civil War and Constitutional settlement (“Civil War and Reconstruction”). In this assignment, the Civil War and Reconstruction Era have been chosen as one historical event during the settlement that shows the concept of "preservation through transformation." Also, the paper describes the major procedural and legal changes during which oppressive systems had been maintained while great reforms occurred. The assignment concentrates on the ideals and values that the reform was supposed to promote, the probable failures of reform to meet such ideals and values, and the contribution of legal and non-legal forces to the preservation of the system. On the other hand, the paper examines the preservation of the system in today's age and the success of preservation. Although the preservation through transformation could be rapidly maintained in terms of governmental organs and authority across the country, it took some time for the culture and society to adapt to the radical change; after all, one can observe the success of this transformation in terms of culture and society in today’s America.
"Oppression is malicious or unjust treatment or exercise of power, often under the guise of a governmental authority or cultural opprobrium, and oppression may be overt or covert, depending on how it is practiced" (“Social Identities and Systems of Oppression,” 2019). In other words, oppression refers to the power of other individuals, either as cultural or governmental. Systems of oppression can either be societal, institutional, or societal. In American culture, one can readily highlight that oppression systems have a long historical effect, and they are rooted in society. Possibly, "the largest most oppressive legal structure in American history was the institution of slavery" (“Systems of Oppression,” 2020). Nevertheless, the idea that one can own another individual was first interfered with by Emancipation Proclamation. In the following years, the 13th Amendment made it illegal to have a slave. Those actions against slavery—probably the most oppressive state—came almost a century and a half ago.
Although there were some black citizens who owned slaves, slavery was mainly about white people's oppression of blacks. In the following years, the practice of slavery was abolished; however, the practice continued in the form of racism in the following century. In general, all cultures across the world have their own variation to the theme of oppression based on race. However, the general idea across the world was that "the darker one's skin, the less social value and power one has" (“Systems of Oppression,” 2020, para. 3). In the form of racist oppression, those with the lightest skin color had the right to rule the ones with dark skin colors. Also, another example of oppression could be gender oppression. That is, many cultures in the world tend to value males above females. Both in the past and in today's world, there are many incidents of men dominating power on women, especially in under-developed and developing countries. Briefly, the oppression system can be based on race, gender, physical appearance, or even culture.
American Civil War
Throughout history, one can claim that the greatest crisis that the United States experienced was in 1861. On both social, economic, and political levels, northern and southern states could not be more different than each other. That is, while the Northern states had focused on industrialization and becoming commercial, the Southern states concentrated on agriculture and could not develop a lot. However, the most important and drastic factor was African—American slavery. "The peculiar institution, more than any other single thing, separated the South from the North” (“Civil War and Reconstruction,” para. 2). More specifically, the citizens living in the Northern states wanted to control (limit) the spread of slavery across the world; even some wanted to abolish slavery. On the other hand, the citizens living in the Southern states wanted to keep the practice of slavery, and they even wanted to spread it across the country. Therefore, gradually, the difference of viewpoints to slavery, in that age, became the focal point of political crisis.
After the 1860 election, “11 southern states seceded from the Federal Union in 1861, and they sought to establish an independent Confederacy of states in which slavery would be protected” (“Civil War and Reconstruction,” para. 5). Upon this unthinkable decision, Northern states found this act against the Constitution. North was willing to use military intervention against the South. As a matter of fact, even most of Southern who owned slaves found the decision to leave the Union unthinkable ("Civil War and Reconstruction”). Unfortunately, the overall result was a bloody and costly civil war.
Resconstruction and Rights
After four years of the Civil War, the Union was finally restored due to the force of military arms. However, the challenge of reconstructing the Union was almost as hard as the Civil War itself. Most of the war happened in the South part, and that part was considerably devastated, both physically, culturally, and economically. On the other hand, "helping freedmen (ex-slaves), and creating state governments loyal to the Union also presented difficult problems what would take years to resolve" (“Reconstruction,” para. 2).
One of the most important elements of the reconstruction agenda was the right to vote. Former Confederate men to vote and the votes and rights of black American men were highly discussed. In the following years, a series of acts implemented to define the rights, the governing type of Southern states, and the rights of black American men. Accordingly, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the emergence of the Freedmen's Bureau, and several other Reconstruction Acts were among the first acts to solve such problems (“Industrial America”).
According to the Reconstruction Acts, there should have been a military rule over the Southern states until new local and federal governments could be created. On the other hand, Reconstruction Acts gave former slaves and black American men to the right the vote and held public office. Also, two amendments were passed to the Constitution by Congress. In this direction, the Fourteenth Amendment protected the rights of African-American citizens and protected them from discriminatory local laws. Also, the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed the right to vote for African-American citizens.
Preservation Through Transformation
This trauma in the history of America triggered a series of incidents. "In the decades following the Civil War, the United States emerged as an industrial giant. Old industries expanded, and many new ones, including petroleum refining, steel manufacturing, and electrical power, emerged" (“Industrial America,” para. 1). In this sense, one can conclude that the Northern states could preserve its industrialization through the transformation (banning slavery).
Ideal and Values
Before the Civil War, as mentioned earlier, Northside wanted to create an industrialized and developed country; on the other hand, the South was concentrated on agriculture and slavery. During the Civil War, the North was ready to implement military intervention over the South. And the Reconstruction Acts limited the local governments of the South. In this sense, one can interpret that the North's ideal and values were to create an industrialized, civil, and developed nation where slavery does not exist. When considered the fact that slavery was banned after the radical change (Civil War and Reconstructions), one can readily suggest that the ideals and values, in terms of industrialization and government, were reached.
Failure of Reform
As defined in the earlier pages, oppression can be governmental, local, societal, or cultural. Although the continent managed to unite under powerful legislations and Acts, one can easily infer that the aftereffects of such a drastic change have prevailed over the following decades. That is, as the nature of oppression does not stem merely from the governmental or federal forces, the radical change or reform should be a collective movement, including all aspects such as culture and society. In this case, The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments ensured the rights of African American people.
In today's America, racism, discrimination, and similar approaches have never been as much less. That is, compared to previous decades and centuries, the culture of the U.S. also learned some lessons. For instance, one cannot even suggest slavery, not in the U.S., but all across the world. Also, African American people have become a part of society, and black citizens can take part in all aspects of institutions, culture, and so on. Therefore, although the preservation through transformation could not be maintained in the following decades and century, today's America seems to be promising in terms of preserving the ideals and values that were gained during the Civil War process. In this sense, through time, society and culture could adapt itself to the new transformation, though it was not as rapid as the governmental actions.
Civil War Essay: Conclusion
Periods of radical changes are considered the roots of progress in some areas while reinforcing some of the most oppressive aspects of a given society. In this assignment, the Civil War and Reconstruction Era has been chosen as one historical event during the settlement that shows the concept of "preservation through transformation." Oppression refers to the power of other individuals, either as cultural or governmental. Systems of oppression can either be societal, institutional, or cultural. In American culture, one can readily highlight that oppression systems have a long historical effect, and they are rooted in society. the most important and drastic factor was the African—American slavery. "The peculiar institution, more than any other single thing, separated the South from the North. After the Civil War and Reconstruction, the ideals and values, in terms of industrialization and government, were reached. However, slavery found itself a new form under the word "racism." The cultural adaptation to regulation was not as rapid as the governmental organs. However, although the preservation through transformation could be rapidly maintained in terms of governmental organs and authority across the country, it took some time for the culture and society to adapt to the radical change; after all, one can observe the success of this transformation in terms of culture and society in today’s America.
“Civil War and Reconstruction - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation: Teacher Resources.” Library of Congress,
Hale, Christiane B. “Infant Mortality: An American Tragedy.” The Black Scholar, vol. 21, no. 1, 1990, pp. 17–26., doi:10.1080/00064246.1990.11412953.
“Reconstruction.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/reconstruction.
“Social Identities and Systems of Oppression.” National Museum of African American History and Culture, 9 Dec. 2019, nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/social-identities-and-systems-oppression.