Revolutionary and Civil War Reconstruction
Introduction to Both Reconstruction Periods
There was more than one time in United States history that a war was fought and a long period of reconstruction followed. The reconstruction after the Revolutionary and Civil wars in the United States were alike and contrasted in several ways. In both, part or all of the country had no clear form of government, and a group of people had to decide how a region was going to be governed; and in both, citizens received a "Bill of Rights". However, in the Revolutionary War reconstruction, the states worked together to come up with a secure form of government, whereas in the Civil War reconstruction, the country was divided in two, with each side attempting to outwit each other through clever legislation.
Revolutionary War Reconstruction
After a long and weary war with England, the common enemy to the United States was gone and the fragile colonies found themselves in a greedy lust for power. They had no clear government to regulate almost anything between the states. Congress's Articles Of Confederation did not serve as an adequate form of government. They did not regulate interstate trading, establish a national currency, or give congress the power to raise an army or a navy to protect the homeland. In essence, the states controlled the failing government. No state was willing to change since the question of whether or not the state would get the most power, was at stake. When the Constitution was finalized and ratified, it decided how the United States was going to be governed. Reconstruction after the Revolutionary War, even with its negative aspect, The Articles Of Confederation, established a supreme federal law of the land and united the states under one solid foundation, the Constitution.
Documentary on the Civil War: Battle of Gettysburg
Civil War Reconstruction
Reconstruction after the Civil War can be compared to that after the Revolutionary War. Just like the years after the Revolutionary War, part of the country had no stable government. The South was in a period of reconstruction. They essentially had no government until they accepted the Amnesty Proclamation issued by President Andrew Johnson. Also, the South was not willing to change; just like all the states resisted change and authority after the Revolutionary War. The South was still in a period of open defiance against the North and the northerners began to wonder, "Who really won this war?" As the South took every measure possible to counteract the decisions of the Republican congress, such as enacting the Black Codes which included: poll taxes, literacy tests, and more; the Congress retaliated with more and more legislature. To ensure that the southern states would follow these measures and laws, Congress passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, which closed any loopholes that the South found to deny blacks the right to vote and exercise their civil rights. These amendments gave blacks the right to vote just like an earlier amendment guaranteed white men the right to vote in the Revolutionary War reconstruction.
Both the Revolutionary War reconstruction and Civil War reconstruction had similarities and differences. In both a new form of government needed to be established and adopted. However, in the first reconstruction the states were united to create a supreme law that would build and support a nation. In the second, the country was divided, but that supreme law was perfected. Both reconstruction periods tested the power of the federal government, democracy and proved that the Union would survive under the Constitution.