war, the reconstruction era had pushed forth bringing with it social and constitutional developments that evolved into an abyss of controversy and debate. Occurring mainly between the years 1860-1877, these developments necessitated a change. The social and constitutional developments, although they may have seemed beneficial at the time, would lead to a revolution in the future and continue to do so in today?s world.
A major premise in the beginning of the Civil War had been the issue of state?s rights. It had been clearly demonstrated that the federal government lacked too great authority when South Carolina had seceded from the nation. It had shown virtual nullification of federal authority in doing so, per their interpretations of the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which states that, ??declared powers not delegated to the United States?are reserved to the states?? Thus, in the years following the Civil War, federal government worked on expanding its authority.
A step towards this direction had been shown when amendments such as the 13th (abolishment of slavery), 14th (citizenship for Blacks), and 15th (Black male suffrage), had been passed. Gideon Wells, Lincoln?s former Secretary of the Navy, had thought that these premises could be accomplished by constitutional means, (once again increasing the authority of the federal government).However, civil rights for Black Americans, he felt, held no warrant for the authority of the federal government, thus necessitating change.
This had been affirmed in a petition of Black Americans in a Union convention (occurring in 1865 as stated in a diary entry by Gideon Wells). In the petition, they had asked that since they had been allotted space to fight in the United States Army, they also should have the rights to express their sentiment through voting. Once again, it was an opportunity necessitating further enhancement of the power of the federal government and thus needing change.
Aside from constitutional developments that were debated and examined during 1860-1877, a number of social developments took place that set the foundation for a revolution to amount in the future.
In an effort to obtain their own land, the freedmen had petitioned to the commissioner of the Freedman?s Bureau and to the President, asking why they had not been allowed to hold the homesteads they were allowed by the government. This was another premise, which showed a lack of federal power and was further enhanced with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1877, which negated most of which the 14th amendment stood for.
Shown in the cover of an issue of the Harper?s Weekly was a Black American voting in the year 1867. However, due to acts such as the Black Codes and ineffectiveness of the military in the South, groups such as the Ku Klux Klan infringed upon the liberty and freedoms of the Black Americans. This idea is also shown in a cartoon by Thomas Nast, which depicts a Black family under the wrath of white supremacy.
The period between 1860-1877 showed governmental weakness due to lack of federal power. Advocated had begun to arise that argued for rights of Black Americans, such as Booker T. Washington, but not to the effect of changing the ideals of the time. The stage, however, was now set for a new type of advocacy; a new type of revolution.