Tag Archives: 154-13

Reconstruction

From 1865-1877, the federal government attempted to reintegrate the southern states into the united States following their secession and subsequent Civil War. There were several aspects of southern existence that the government needed to address. First was the basic re-formation of the state governments to purge them of Confederate influence. Second was the question of integrating former slaves into the social, political, and economic life of the southern states.
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A letter from Robert E. Lee to his wife

July 12, 1863
Robert E. Lee

The consequences of war are horrid enough at best, surrounded by all the ameliorations of civilization and Christianity.  I am very sorry for the injuries done the family at Hickory Hill, and particularly that our dear old Uncle Williams, in his eightieth year, should be subjected to such treatment.  But we cannot help it, and must endure it.  You will, however, learn before this reaches you that our success at Gettysburg was not so great as reported–in fact, that we failed to drive the enemy from his position, and that our army withdrew to the Potomac.  Had the river not unexpectedly risen, all would have been well with us; but God, in His all-wise providence, willed otherwise, and our communications have been interrupted and almost cut off.  The waters have subsided to about four feet, and, if they continue, by tomorrow, I hope, our communications will be open.  I trust that a merciful God, our only hope and refuge, will not desert us in this hour of need, and will deliver us by His almighty hand, that the whole world may recognise His power and all hearts be lifted up in adoration and praise of His unbounded loving-kindness.  We must, however, submit to His almighty will, whatever that may be.  May God guide and protect us all is my constant prayer.

Source

Questions for consideration:

  1. In this letter, what concerns seem to be weighing on Lee’s mind?
  2. Is his assessment of the battle at Gettysburg accurate?

The Civil War

The American Civil War (1861-1865) was a massive, devastating conflict which changed the nation forever.

By the end of the war, slavery in the United States would be destroyed and the power of the federal government over that of the states would be redefined.  The Union (northern) states, with their economic, population, and manufacturing advantages triumphed over the Confederate (southern) states, despite the Confederacy having a distinct advantage in military leadership throughout much of the conflict.
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The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Laws which assured slave owners that runaway slaves would be returned had been in force since the ratification of the Constitution. Indeed, the Constitution required such laws. Decades later, however, many of these laws were unenforced in northern states and abolitionists actively helped runaway slaves flee ever northward to freedom. Slave owners, as part of the Compromise of 1850, pushed for the adoption of stronger fugitive slave laws. One section of the law is below.
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