Reconstruction and the Age of American Imperialism

Discuss three major changes in race relations (i.e., laws, amendments, labor arrangements, working conditions, migration patterns, socioeconomic changes) that resulted from Reconstruction

Law Amendments

It was during the civil war which marked the beginning of the reconstruction age and start of interracial democracy. It, however, ended in 1877. There were laws and constitutional amendments that were instituted and they changed the definition of citizenship as well as the federal system. The period between 1866 -1869 saw Congress enacting new laws and amendments. For instance, through the Civil Rights Act that allowed blacks to participate in the democratic practice of voting. It also enacted the principle in American law that discouraged discrimination based on race, in all public amenities such as transport means, accommodations, and juries (Mcpherson, Lincoln 1993). All lawsuits that arose from this Act were tried in the federal courts rather than the state level courts. There were other amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment and Thirteenth Amendment

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                                                          Labor Arrangements     

The United States experienced a shift in interracial relations such as rights and freedoms being granted to the African Americans. Abraham Lincoln during the civil war extended the right to vote to elite blacks and former soldiers (Foner, Mahoney 1999). His successor, Andrew Johnson in 1865 gave the white people in the south tower to establish their own governments hence seemingly restoring slavery. This was because these governments established black codes that required them to sign one-year work contracts. African Americans heavily opposed these contracts.

Migration Patterns

The age after reconstruction witnessed an increase in migration patterns among African Americans. They began moving in large numbers from the South where they had previously been held captive in the plantations. According to the American Library, the number of African Americans moving to the Midwest and the Northeast was almost double that of the previous decade (Braudel, Mayne 1995). This move was majorly influenced by economic factors and the harsh conditions of the South. This migration brought about a rise in the segregation of the blacks in the new cities they moved to live in. There was also scarce housing that resulted in African Americans living in the worse part of the cities.

African Americans learned new trades to fit in the industrialized cities they had now begun living in. However, even in these cities, racial segregation was quite evident even when it came to labor rights. The African Americans earned less than their White counterparts did. The migration was further prompted by the beginning of the world war. More African Americans were drawn by the available jobs in the factories in the cities.

Socioeconomic changes

There was a slow surge in the growth of the African American elite as university education became accessible to the blacks. Others African Americans joined the Army and rose in ranks such as Colonel Charles Young. The migration from the South continued to increase over the decades. These had a profound impact such as the election of African American political leaders as many black people could now exercise their right to vote. There was a rise in advocacy among the African American elite requiring equality of the blacks. Some of the advocacy groups that emerged during this period include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League founded in 1910 and 1911 respectively.


B.Describe two consequences of industrialization on American politics and/or society

The surge in the American Population

There are various positive and negative impact was brought about by Industrialization. This impact was spread across different sectors of American life. Urbanization spread to the countryside during this period and the population grew rapidly. This concentration of the population increased the economic activities in the cities. Hence, industrialization and urbanization in the United States expanded faster than any other period in the country during 1880-1929. There was a widespread increase in the number of immigrants in the country from neighboring nations. Immigrants who entered the United States in the years 1870-1916 numbered 25 Million.

Growth of Advocacy and Political Reforms

Population growth led to the increased disparity between the poor and the rich. This promoted the hierarchy and class system in society. The laborers were at the bottom of the hierarchy system that developed as industrialization increased. There was the middle class that consisted of the elite workers such as the managers of the factories. The upper class consisted of the factory owners and they controlled the means of production in the country.

During the era of industrialization, many Americans became aware of the injustices and disparity that was existing in the social, political and economic fronts. They began to lobby for the regulation of big businesses, improving living conditions and the reduction of poverty among the laborers. Labour unions were formed such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Local and State legislation set up laws that favored the poor such as housing inspections.

  1. Explain the rise of the Progressive movement by doing the following:
  2. Describe the role of religion and social morality in promoting Progressive reforms.

The progressive era was in the years (1890- 1920). It was a response to economic and social problems. Progressivism believed in the government creating solutions for these problems. Religion played a huge role in this in that values for equality rose from Christian beliefs. Teachings of the church were essential in putting to end the social problems.

  1. Describe two reform movements that helped to define the Progressive Era.

The social gospel movement was one of the progressive movements that pushed for reforms during this era (La Fayette 2004). The other was referred to as the Catholic Social Teaching Movement and it was primarily based on the teachings of the Catholic Church.

  1. Discuss one impact of the Progressive movement on American politics

The Progressive Movement played a crucial role in the creations of, for instance, the Pure Food and Drug Act which was dedicated to promoting purity of foods among other benefits.

  1. Explain the role of American imperialism in leading the United States into two of the following conflicts:
    Spanish-American War

Imperialism played a role in conflicts such as the Spanish American War. The Cubans rebelled against Spain leading to a war that prompted America to intervene and protect its assets in Cuba eventually leading to the killing of many American sailors.

Hawaiian Annexation.

Another instance, where American imperialism came to play was when the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898 to extend its territory and as proof of its rise as a Pacific Power. (Smith 2014) this was a result of the concern that Hawaii would become a part of the European nation’s empire.


Braudel, F. (1995). A history of civilizations (p. 178). New York: Penguin Book

Foner, E., & Mahoney, O. (1999). America’s Reconstruction: People and politics after the Civil War. Lousiana: Louisiana State Univ. Press.

LaFayette Jr, B. (2004, June). The Role of Religion in the Civil Rights Movements. In Faith and Progressive Policy: Proud Past, Promising Future Conference.

McPherson, J. M., & Lincoln, A. (1993). Ordeal by Fire. McGraw-Hill Companies.

Smith, J. (2014). The Spanish-American War 1895-1902: Conflict in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Routledge.

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