US history from 1865-1900

6 June 2016

Most Americans thought the war would not last long. Southerners thought that just one victory on the battlefield would force the Union to see that they were a separate nation now. Northerners believed that one victory would convince the Confederate states to return to the Union. Northerners thought their victory would come easily.

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They had many advantages over the South. Besides, the north already had a government and an army, while the South had to start their own government and army in 1861. The South, however, had hidden advantages. (Tindall, 1984). For example, many of the best officers in the U.S. Army came from the South. When the war began, many of these officers joined the rebels. These Southerners knew that the North would have to invade the South to fight the war. Soldiers tend to fight harder when they defend their own homes. Fighting on home territory thus gave the South an advantage over the North. By the end of 1865, the Union was also entirely slave-free (Bailey).

Upon Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, the powers of his office fell upon Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. In many ways, Johnson’s life story was similar to that of Lincoln. He was self-educated and worked his way up through the political ranks and before the war he had reached the position of United States senator from Tennessee.

Johnson had remained loyal to the Union when Tennessee seceded. Throughout his career, Andrew Johnson had performed his political tasks well. He had demonstrated integrity, sincerity and courage. Having risen from poverty himself, he was respected by many poor Southerners. Unfortunately, President Johnson did not have the strong leadership qualities of his predecessor (Bancroft, 1956).

 Southern states adopted constitutions that complied with congressional stipulations and ratified the fourteenth amendment. Most of the Southern states were readmitted to the Union in 1868, although federal troops were kept in the South for nearly a decade thereafter. In order to further protect the voting rights of freedmen, Congress proposed the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution.

The last several Southern states to be readmitted to the Union were required to ratify the fifteenth amendment as well as the fourteenth. Much of America’s steel business soon came under the control of a young entrepreneur named Andrew Carnegie. His venture into the building of iron bridges soon led him into the manufacture of iron. When he was convinced that the Bessemer process was the wave of the future, he entered the steel business. By early 1880s, he had joined forces with Henry C. Frick, and their company was the leading producer of iron and steel in the United States.

Because so many changes took place in the South after the Civil War, it is often referred to as the New South. Agriculture became more diversified. Cotton remained the chief crop, but tenant farmers began to grow a wide variety of other crops as well.

Other endeavors besides agriculture also became increasingly important in the southern economy. Industry was to play an important role in the development of the New South. The South had the ingredients necessary for several important types of industry. It had good sources of waterpower. It has the capability of producing important raw materials such as cotton, tobacco, lumber, coal, oil and iron ore, It also had a large labor force willing to work for relatively low wages (Brinkley, 1993).


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