Reconstruction & the West Essay

Reconstruction & the West Essay.

Reconstruction & the West Essay

Reconstruction and the West


Reconstruction and the West

The reconstruction era refers to a period that featured attempts to transform all the eleven ex-confederate states into an economically stable America. There were many radical reconstruction efforts to re-build a new America. However, many questions have always been raisedon the extent to which the radical efforts transformed America as was expected. This paper examines whether or not radical reconstruction was enough and how western settlement resulted inthe Native Americans and settlers’ conflicts.

Radical Reconstruction in the South

The economy of the South lagged significantly behind the booming North as the Southern was still engaged in civil wars. Therefore, there was an urgent need to transform the South to match its economy with that of the North. The reconstruction efforts hadsomefailures, which compromised the efficiency of its radicalism. For instance, poverty was still a persistent problem in the South even after the reconstruction process. Several white Southerners lost their pieces of land,andthe African-Americans who were newly freed from slavery had a great thirst for job opportunities(Novak, 2015). However, the reconstruction efforts failed to resolve these issues. It left Southerners several trapped in poverty. Another failure was that the industrialization process was rather slower than expected. Corruption was still a great menace to the South after the reconstruction because the efforts failed to bar corrupt leaders from clinching on power. Despite these failures, radical reconstruction was successful in numerous ways of validating the statement that indeed the reconstruction was sufficiently radical.

One of the major successes of the reconstruction process was the reunification of the Confederate states. The main goal of the civil war was to have a united nation, the US. The reconstruction efforts destroyed all the Confederate states and successfully delivered a united America, the United States. The process also brought numerous laws that acted as the basis for protection of human rights. For instance, the federal government abolished slave trade through the 13thAmendment, which helped to define American Citizenship. The 14th Amendment protected all Americans while the 15th Amendment granted voting rights to African American men. All the amendments were intended to make America a better place for everyone, and indeed, they provided good grounds from which civil activists fought for further liberation of minority groups from oppression. The South witnessed a rapid economic construction shortly after the civil war. The construction of railway lines, for example, the Sacramento-Omaha railroad was a great economic boom in the south.  Education was available to all(Vaughn, 2015). The Freedmen’s Bureau established several schools for African-Americans freed from slavery. All these successes demonstrate that indeed the reconstruction of the South was sufficiently radical.

Western Settlement and the Inevitable Conflicts with the Natives

Westward expansion was a very significant event in the American history because as it enabled the US to become the most powerful nation of the 20th century after settling several millions of square miles of rich and diverse land. Nonetheless, the expansion process led to great destruction, cultural losses, and suffering to the Native Americans. It is for these reasons that several conflicts emerged between the Native Americans and the settlers. An example of such wars was the Indian war that lasted between 1809 and 1890. Essentially, the western settlement was a conquest of lands belonging to the Native Americans,and in the process, the Natives protested against the advancements resulting in conflicts. White settlers made several efforts to resolve the conflicts through treaties with no success, as the settlers ignored the treaties which leading to more conflicts. The natives became more hostile thereby initiated a series of battles.One of these wars was the December 29, 1890, Wounded Knee Massacre which was the last Indian conquest(Gitlin, 2011). The impact of the war was that several Native Americans were forced to relocate to reservations.

The railroad construction was one of the major causes of conflicts between the natives and the settlers. Enactment of the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 marked the beginning of the railroad construction process. President Abraham Lincoln signed the act into law to facilitate the provision of government support in building the first transcontinental railroad in America. The initiative to build the railways followed the emergence of an urge to connect Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The railroad was very expansive hence crossed several pieces of land belonging to the Indians, the Native Americans. After its completion, the railroad opened up the natives’ lands for exploration by settlers. Several white settlers began pouring in areas such as Mississippi to find land for farming, ranching, and mining among other economic activities. Other than the whites, African-Americans also began settling in these regions, hoping to find economic prosperity within the local towns.  The new settlements transformed the entire region, especially the Great Plains where huge herds belonging to the natives were all wiped out as farmers cleared the natural grass. Consequently, the natives lost their source of livelihood,and their lives were greatly affected. They became violent and began fighting the settlers resulting in several conflicts.


The reconstruction period had great successes and failures raising questions on whether it was sufficiently radical. However, the efforts initiated numerous changes whose impacts can never be overstated.  It united the confederate states and availed several constitutional amendments thatmade America a better place for all the residents. Therefore, there should be no doubt about the significance of the radicalism of the reconstruction era.


Gitlin, M. (2011). Wounded Knee Massacre. ABC-CLIO.

Novak, D. A. (2015). The Wheel of Servitude: Black Forced Labor after Slavery. University Press of Kentucky.

Vaughn, W. P. (2015). Schools for All: The Blacks and Public Education in the South, 1865–1877. University Press of Kentucky.

Browse more products here

Order Here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.