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The American Civil War is quite possibly the defining moment in American history. The experiment of democracy was put to the absolute test and the population responded accordingly. It is debatable whether or not this was a revolution. Scholars have wrestled with this issue for many years. A revolution is a change in power from the old order to a new order. A revolution must be both external and internal. This means that the underlying social situation must change as well as the obvious political situation. In my opinion I do not believe that the American Civil War fits these criteria. The American Civil War was not a revolution in the external sense. The economical and political structure of the North and South was not significantly changed. The economy of the pre-war North was highly industrial. Those that argue that the war was a revolution say that the North experienced an industrial explosion after the war, which in turn altered their economy. This did not happen. While the North did experience a time of prosperity after the war, their economy did not experience any major change in direction. Many technological advances that were implemented during the post-war years had already been introduced years before the war started. The North had always been strong industrially. The war simply gave this industry an outlet for its goods. Their economy simply experienced an acceleration and not a change in direction. The Southern economy did not experience a change in direction either. The economy of the South was completely destroyed during the war and not sufficiently rebuilt afterwards. Some minor attempts at starting an industrial based economy were made, but were not followed through. This led to the South maintaining their previous agrarian based economy to sustain its needs. The South did not industrialize until well into the 20th century when war factories were built there. The governments of the North and South did not change fundamentally either. The pre-war North was solid Republican. Throughout the war it remained Republican. After the war it was still Republican. The South remained solid Democrat as well. Even after the war when the Democratic Party was stripped of its power, its weakness did not last long. The party reformed and still had support from its constituents. The Democrats quickly began influencing policy and even won a few court cases that basically gave the South free reign over its new citizens. The Civil War does not fulfill the requirements for an internal revolution. The slaves were technically freed, given citizenship, and given the right to vote by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments respectively. Each one of these rights that were granted to the blacks did not become a reality until a very long time after the war ended. When the war ended, the slaves were free to go and do as they pleased. These new free men had many factors against them once they left their plantations. These men were uneducated, homeless, and jobless. They had no way of feeding themselves or their families. Very few former slaves actually got away from their old homes. Nearly all ended up back on their old plantations as sharecroppers or tenant farmers because they had no other options and farming was all they knew. At first glance it doesn't look like such a bad job. The blacks got to have their own home and a piece of land to farm. The only drawback was the fact that they had to take all their crops to the owner. He would sell them, take the money, and give some of it out the sharecropper. What was given out was never enough and the blacks were always kept in debt and were not allowed to leave unless they could pay it off. This was just the first method of disguising the subjugation of the newly free. The Ku Klux Klan was formed. This was nothing more than a group of white men that ran around and physically and mentally abused the newly free. Their goal was to re-establish the pre-war racial hierarchy. The black codes were implemented shortly after the war. These laws were the beginning of the legislation that limited the rights of the newly free. These laws directly undermined the federal laws and were upheld by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The case, U.S. v. Cruikshank, directly negated the 14th amendment. It said that the 14th amendment did not extend rights to the individual. This allowed the black codes to continue and later the Jim Crow Laws to be legal. The blacks right to vote was rendered virtually non-existent by the decision in U.S. v Reese. This Supreme Court decision said that since the 15th amendment guaranteed that there shall be no bias concerning voting rights by race, that a black man can't be denied the right to vote because he is black. This means that a black man can be denied the right to vote because of other reasons. Many new tests for voters were set up to keep blacks from voting. The literacy test consisted of an incredibly obscure question and if the black man got the question wrong he couldn't vote. If the black man happened to answer the question correctly, the grandfather clause came into effect. The grandfather clause prevented any former slave from voting if his grandfather never voted. This was impossible for obvious reasons. During the years of Reconstruction the South was supposed to be rebuilt to resemble the north economically, politically, and socially, but this did not happen. When the soldiers left the South in 1877, the newly free men had no chance of voting, practically no civil rights, and were for all practical purposes still slaves to their former masters. The Civil War caused no lasting fundamental changes and thus was not a revolution.
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The defining moment in American history
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The Defining Moment In American History

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              The American Civil War is quite possibly the defining moment in American history. The experiment of democracy was put to the absolute test and the population responded accordingly. It is debatable whether or not this was a revolution. Scholars have wrestled with this issue for many years. A revolution is a change in power from the old order to a new order. A revolution must be both external and internal. This means that the underlying social situation must change as well as the obvious political situation.
             
              In my opinion I do not believe that the American Civil War fits these criteria. The American Civil War was not a revolution in the external sense. The economical and political structure of the North and South was not significantly changed. The economy of the pre-war North was highly industrial. Those that argue that the war was a revolution say that the North experienced an industrial explosion after the war, which in turn altered their economy. This did not happen.
             
              While the North did experience a time of prosperity after the war, their economy did not experience any major change in direction. Many technological advances that were implemented during the post-war years had already been introduced years before the war started. The North had always been strong industrially. The war simply gave this industry an outlet for its goods. Their economy simply experienced an acceleration and not a change in direction. The Southern economy did not experience a change in direction either. The economy of the South was completely destroyed during the war and not sufficiently rebuilt afterwards. Some minor attempts at starting an industrial based economy were made, but were not followed through.
             
              This led to the South maintaining their previous agrarian based economy to sustain its needs. The South did not industrialize until well into the 20th century when war factories were built there. The governments of the North and South did not change fundamentally either. The pre-war North was solid Republican. Throughout the war it remained Republican. After the war it was still Republican. The South remained solid Democrat as well.
             
              Even after the war when the Democratic Party was stripped of its power, its weakness did not last long. The party reformed and still had support from its constituents. The Democrats quickly began influencing policy and even won a few court cases that basically gave the South free reign over its new citizens. The Civil War does not fulfill the requirements for an internal revolution. The slaves were technically freed, given citizenship, and given the right to vote by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments respectively. Each one of these rights that were granted to the blacks did not become a reality until a very long time after the war ended.
             
              When the war ended, the slaves were free to go and do as they pleased. These new free men had many factors against them once they left their plantations. These men were uneducated, homeless, and jobless. They had no way of feeding themselves or their families. Very few former slaves actually got away from their old homes. Nearly all ended up back on their old plantations as sharecroppers or tenant farmers because they had no other options and farming was all they knew. At first glance it doesn't look like such a bad job.
             
              The blacks got to have their own home and a piece of land to farm. The only drawback was the fact that they had to take all their crops to the owner. He would sell them, take the money, and give some of it out the sharecropper. What was given out was never enough and the blacks were always kept in debt and were not allowed to leave unless they could pay it off. This was just the first method of disguising the subjugation of the newly free. The Ku Klux Klan was formed.
             
              This was nothing more than a group of white men that ran around and physically and mentally abused the newly free. Their goal was to re-establish the pre-war racial hierarchy. The black codes were implemented shortly after the war. These laws were the beginning of the legislation that limited the rights of the newly free. These laws directly undermined the federal laws and were upheld by a U. S. Supreme Court ruling.
             
              The case, U. S. v. Cruikshank, directly negated the 14th amendment. It said that the 14th amendment did not extend rights to the individual. This allowed the black codes to continue and later the Jim Crow Laws to be legal. The blacks right to vote was rendered virtually non-existent by the decision in U. S. v Reese. This Supreme Court decision said that since the 15th amendment guaranteed that there shall be no bias concerning voting rights by race, that a black man can't be denied the right to vote because he is black.
             
              This means that a black man can be denied the right to vote because of other reasons. Many new tests for voters were set up to keep blacks from voting. The literacy test consisted of an incredibly obscure question and if the black man got the question wrong he couldn't vote. If the black man happened to answer the question correctly, the grandfather clause came into effect. The grandfather clause prevented any former slave from voting if his grandfather never voted. This was impossible for obvious reasons. During the years of Reconstruction the South was supposed to be rebuilt to resemble the north economically, politically, and socially, but this did not happen.
             
              When the soldiers left the South in 1877, the newly free men had no chance of voting, practically no civil rights, and were for all practical purposes still slaves to their former masters. The Civil War caused no lasting fundamental changes and thus was not a revolution.
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