From the inauguration of president Abraham Lincoln in 1860 to the removal of Union troops from the South in 1877, the period marked a pivotal time in American history.

During this time period, the underlying sectional tension and division on the issue of slavery and state rights led to the secession of Confederate states and ultimately the Civil War. After a Union victory and the destruction of slavery, the South underwent social, economic and political Reconstruction. As the north attempted to impose revolutionary adjustments during Reconstruction, resistance from southerners occurred, as they tried to salvage their old way of life.  Although social and constitutional developments produced some major developments, increased southern opposition disrupted the overall impact of these changes, causing the United States to undertake in only a partial revolution.   The period between 1860 and 1877 saw significant revolutionary Constitutional developments.

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For example, many southern states seceded the Union as they believed that the federal government was restricting their state rights which led to Civil War erupting to preserve the Union. The Civil War increased the political power of the federal government. Further, Constitutional developments such as the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were very revolutionary, emancipating all African Americans, citizenship and male suffrage. In the early stages, many African Americans voted, help public office, and became more active in government.

Congress also established the Freedmen’s Bureau helping many African Americans transition from bondage to freedom. However, many southern white males interfered and prevented African Americans from voting. For example, groups like the Klu Klux Klan used violence and intimidation to steer African Americans from voting.

Further, unfair literacy tests and the Grandfather clause also prohibited many black males from voting. Although there were many amendments to the Constitution and revolutionary changes, southern interference and opposition led to only a partial revolution.   The period between 1860 and 1877 also saw significant social developments. Although the 13th, 14th, 15th constitutional amendments were passed, blacks were still not considered as equals to whites in many people’s eyes.

Black codes restricted the political and civil rights of blacks, limiting freedom of employment, the right to own land, etc.. Furthermore, many newly freed African Americans lacked the necessary education, money and opportunity and had to resort to sharecropping. Socially, the developments of the time period were not very revolutionary as southern opposition disrupted many of the constitutional changes.

The time period from 1860 to 1877 and the constitutional and social development greatly impacted American history. However, southern opposition such as the Klu Klux Klan and voting restrictions prohibited many African Americans to utilize their constitutional right of voting. Furthermore, black codes and sharecropping kept many blacks on the bottom of the social hierarchy. The issue of slavery left its lasting effects on the nation, leaving racial tension between white southerners and blacks that would last for years to come.  Ultimately, the constitutional and social changes of the time fell short of “revolutionary,” and although it was one step closer in the right direction, the racism and social inequality still exists today.