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The Civil War and the Reconstruction were the turning points in the US history, which had defined the further development of the American society and politics. In fact, the Civil War and the Reconstruction affected consistently interracial relationships in the US, although effects of the Civil War and the Reconstruction on interracial relations were not obvious shortly after these historic events. However, in a long-run perspective, the impact of the Civil War and the Reconstruction on the position of African Americans, on interracial relationships, on American politics and society can hardly be underestimated. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that, shortly after the Civil War and the Reconstruction, many African Americans were disappointed because, even though they got basic human rights and liberties, but they failed to exercise them to the full extent, staying inferior to the white supremacy in the American society. Nevertheless, in a long-run perspective, the Civil War and the Reconstruction paved the way toward the tolerant and democratic society, wider participation of African Americans in the political life and consistent changes in interracial relationships in the US.
Rights and liberties of African Americans after the Civil War and Reconstruction
The Civil War and the Reconstruction contributed to the consistent change in the attitude of the white majority to African Americans. Before the Civil War and Reconstruction, African Americans were perceived as mere commodities in the South and as inferior in the North. Anyway, white Americans felt their supremacy in relation to African Americans. However, in the course of the Civil War and in the Reconstruction era African Americans have proved to be an important power that affected the political life of the country and, what is more important, that defined, to a significant extent, outcomes of the Civil War. At this point, it is possible to refer to the film "Glory", which reveals the fact that Lincoln recognized the participation of 180,000 of African Americans as the core factor to the victory of the North in the Civil War. In such a way, the American society grew conscious of the fact that African Americans represent a significant power, which other Americans cannot ignore.
After the Civil War and the Reconstruction, African Americans obtained larger rights and liberties. To put it more precisely, in the course of the Civil War, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which was a crucial step toward the abolition of slavery and providing African Americans with the legal ground to become citizens of the US equal to other citizens.
Furthermore, the Bills of Rights implied the equality of all citizens, whereas, after the Civil War and the Reconstruction, African Americans became citizens and, thus, they were granted with respective rights and liberties. However, at this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that, even though African Americans were granted with basic rights and liberties, but they did not know how to exercise them and, what is more, often they did not have an opportunity to exercise them. This means that they have the rights and liberties but they could not exercise them. Hence, they were free but still not equal to other Americans. They remained inferior and oppressed in terms of their rights and liberties but, the Civil War and the Reconstruction laid the ground for further legislative changes to provide African Americans with equal rights and liberties as well as opportunities.
The contribution of the Civil War and Reconstruction to the lasting change in American politics and society
In fact, the Civil War became the turning point in the history of the US and in interracial relationships. The participation of African Americans in the Civil War contributed to the victory of the North in the war. However, the participation of African Americans was quite limited in the beginning of the war because the white commandment had no confidence in African Americans. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the film "Glory", which depicts the African American regiment, which was not used for combats but for digging mainly because of its blackness that proves the inferiority of African Americans in the course of the Civil War and after the war. In this regard, it is quite noteworthy that Lears points out that "the rise of total war between the Civil War and World War I was rooted in longings for release from bourgeois normality into a realm of heroic struggle. This was the desperate anxiety, the yearning for rebirth, that lay behind official ideologies of romantic nationalism, imperial progress and civilizing mission - and that led to the trenches of the Western Front." (Lears, 194). In such a context, the inferiority of African Americans in the Civil War persisted for decades ahead, whereas their blackness was the reason for their inferiority.
In actuality, the African American regiment had proved to be comprised of true heroes, who were ready to fulfill the most difficult orders. In this regard, it is possible to refer to an assault on Fort Wagner and heroic death of many African Americans in the 54th regiment encouraged many African Americans to participate in the war and proved their courage and right to be a part of the American nation (Zwick, 1989). After their heroic struggle, many African Americans have started to join the army and struggle for their liberty.
On the other hand, African Americans suffered from the under-representation in the American government and Congress as well as the overwhelming majority of African Americans did not participate in the political life of the US. Even though they got rights and liberties, they could not exercise them on the equal ground with white Americans. Nevertheless, the Civil War and the Reconstruction proved that African Americans comprised an integral part of the American society and other Americans could not ignore them.
At the same time, African Americans hold the low social standing, often living in poverty, illiterate and with poor conditions of living. They could not find a good job because they did not have qualification or education. They lived in poverty and some of them were marginalized. Nevertheless, the process of integration of African Americans in the social life of the US had started since the Civil War and the Reconstruction era.
The Civil War and Reconstruction laid the foundation for a profound and long-lasting change in the American society and politics to include African Americans in the American nation but this way was long and hard to go. What is meant here is the fact that African Americans had proved their significance as a part of the American nation. They won basic human rights and liberties. However, they still had to carry on the struggle to gain equal right and liberties compared to the whites, to stop the racial discrimination, and to gain equal opportunities. This struggle was hard and bloodthirsty but African Americans had learned to struggle and win in the course of the Civil War. This historic experience proved to be crucial for the rise of the Civil Rights movement as well as for the change of interracial relationships in the US at large.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the Civil War and the Reconstruction contributed to the development of new interracial relationships and changed social and political life of the US. First of all, the Civil War and the Reconstruction granted African Americans with basic human rights and liberties. The participation of African Americans in the Civil War changed the attitude of other Americans to them and proved their role in the American society. Even though their participation in the political life after the Civil War and the Reconstruction was low as was their social standing, but they had proved to be a part of the American nation. In such a way, the Civil War and the Reconstruction laid the foundation for further changes in the US society and politics.