Changes Between the End of the Civil War and the End of World War 1


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Right from the end of the Civil war till the end of the First World war, there have been several forms of significant changes in various aspects of the nation. These changes, be they political, social or economic have played important roles in shaping the country. A thorough analysis will identify and analyze some notable changes within these three features. A kind of change between this time frame that can be identified as an economic change was industrialization. Stemming from the age of invention, it led to the rise of entrepreneurship and the age of wealth for industrialists and businessmen like Andrew Carnegie, George Pullman, JP Morgan etc. While industrialization steadily favored these businessmen, it was not the case for the laborers who worked under some of them. One of the ways these unfavorable working conditions was shown was through the unsuccessful Pullman strike, which cost several workers of the Pullman Palace their jobs.

In a letter of appeal to the governor of Illinois, some of the Pullman workers stated that their loss of jobs had caused their families to starve as they had no means of leaving the area. They further stated that over one thousand six hundred families lived in deplorable conditions, as they were destitute and in want. The governor would later write three letters of appeal to George Pullman that suggested solutions to aid the affected workers, but this was of no use as Pullman never took back the workers who started the strike.

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This shows how industrialization was not as beneficial to laborers as it was to the top industrialists and businessmen of that time. Another kind of change that can be known as a political change took place between these two time periods; it was a movement for women’s suffrage. Although women were not allowed to vote up until 1920 when the nineteenth amendment was added to the constitution, there were visible movements which started in the late 1860s that stirred towards this cause. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were women’s rights activists that formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1869. This organization ensured women secured immediate rights to vote and not by a predetermined date; some women like Virginia Minor, who was in the organization pushed this movement further by registering to vote in St Louis Missouri in 1872. Even though she was turned away by an official, Minor took the case to the state courts on the notion that that fourteenth amendment gave her a right to vote as a citizen; however, her claim was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 1874 on ground that “the U.S constitution does not confer the right to suffrage.” The efforts of these women’s rights activists created room for women’s participation in political decisions, although these women movements were not responded to immediately, it could be agreed that they helped play a big role in passing the nineteenth amendment.

Moving on to the third kind of change which can be recognized as a social change was the southern attitude towards African-Americans after the abolition of slavery in 1865. The bigoted southern population were not clearly pleased with it and sought new ways to subdue the African-American population in the south. Using black codes which were discriminatory laws against blacks, the prejudiced southerners found ways to economically enslave them. For instance, the concept of sharecropping was a way black people were kept economically handicapped. This was a system whereby landowners would rent out their farmlands to the freed blacks to plant, and they, in turn, would pay them with the crops that they grew on the farmlands. Most of the time, these landowners would collect more than the required number of crops from them, leaving the blacks with barely enough crops to sustain themselves and their families. Henry Blake, a former slave shared his experience from sharecropping in an interview sometime between 1936 and 1938. He stated that the landowners never gave itemized statements, or accept recorded accounts kept by the freedmen that showed how much they owed, instead they pressed that black people owed them so many crops and would force them to comply with their harsh terms. This was one of the terrible ways the racist southerners treated the free blacks in the blacks. Other ways included the formation of the Ku Klux Klan; an organization that threatened their civil and basic rights. These southern attitudes towards the African-American signified that they were not considered free by these prejudiced southners even though the constitution had granted them their freedom.

Some of these changes were either beneficial to a group of people or detrimental to another. However these changes may have been, they have all become significant parts of history that have influenced the way the nation fared through the time frame between the end of the Civil war and the First World war.

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