What Forces and Historical Trends Throughout American History Led to the Civil War, and How Did Those Forces Shape Reconstruction?
States’ Rights refers To the struggle between the federal government and individual states over political power. In the Civil War era, this struggle focused heavily on the institution of slavery and whether the federal government had the right to regulate or even abolish slavery within an individual state. The sides of this debate were largely drawn between northern and southern states, thus widened the growing divide within the nation.
Heavy demand for cotton in southern states encouraged slavery of Africans even though it was illegal in northern states. In 1860, came the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and this triggered a crisis in slave states as he dejected the expansion of slave trade. Amongst the slave states, some of them seceded in forming the Confederate States of America in 1861. This brought about American Civil War, which was from 1861 to 1865.
In this compromise, Hayes was declared the winner, and this was agreed on by both parties. The real kicker was the other stipulation, though. The military occupation of the southern states was put to an end. No big deal, right? WRONG! Without military force to back them up, the freed slaves living down there were without safety. There was nothing to keep the southerners from taking advantage of the freed men, and this is exactly what they did. Knowing that they couldn’t directly disobey the law, many southerners set up their own laws, or black codes, that put hard restrictions on African Americans. So, even though protection laws were in place, they did little good with nobody to enforce them. At this point Reconstruction ended. The laws were in place, and though they didn’t always work, some people felt that was enough, they had done their jobs.
Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 74
The History Channel, “American Civil War,” History.com.
Martin Kelly, “Top Five Causes of the Civil War: Leading up to Secession and the Civil War,” About.com.
Martin Kelly, “Overview of the American Civil War-Secession,” About.com.