Topic 52A – The historic evolution of the united states: From a. Lincoln to f.d. roosevelt

Topic 52A – The historic evolution of the united states: From a. Lincoln to f.d. roosevelt

During the four decades preceeding the civil war, the united states saw the arising of deep and rooted economic, social and political differences between the states of the South and the north.

The South was basically agricultural, it produced excellent garvests of cotton, tobaco and sugar, which were exported to the states of the North or Europel However, it depended on the North for the obtention of manufactures and financial and commercial services necessary for the comercial development. Besides, the work labour in the south, comprised almost 4 millions of slaves. The preservation of slavery was the main reason for the entering of the Southern states in the Union.

There were two main points of disagreement related to this situation:

Custom duties: the South, not being self sufficient, wanted free trade to import industrial goods from Europe. The North wanted to prevent the industry, imposing taxes on foreign goods.

Slavery: It was essential for Southern economy, while the North wanted to abolish it. A key fact in the development of this conflict was the Missouri Compromise (1820). It established that slavery continued in the southern states, but it would be limited to the Mississippi river. This implied that, the more the country expanded its territories, the more power the South had. The North was bound to grow, and the South would be always limited to the limits they had.

It was very important because during the period from the signing of the compromise, to the starting of the war, the country grew enormously:

By 1837, there were 26 states.

Through the war against mexico (1848), they were adhered TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, NEVADA, UTAH, part of COLORADO.

FLORIDA ceded by Spain


The inmediate cause of the civil war was the election of Abraham Lincoln in the elections of 1860. He wasn´t going to abolish slavery, but he was decided to respect the Missouri Compromise, and to protect the industrial interests of the North. The South viewed Lincoln as a direct threat to their interests.

That same year South Carolina secedes from the United States, and the following year, the Confederate States of America are formed by 7 States (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Lousiana, and Texas).

In 1861, the war begins in Fort Sumter, and 4 more states join the confederacy: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Neither the North nor the South were prepared to support a war in 1861. The North had a bigger military potential, more soldiers, with a population of 22 million persons. The South had a population of 9 million people, but 4 of them were black slaves, whose loyalty to the confederacy was obviously very doubtful. At the beginning, both bands were formed exclusively by volunteers, but the necessity forced to make a recruitment to form an army. The Union had a strong central power, with authority over the states. The Southern states had self-government, and from 1863 they refused to send men to war.

Besides, the North had clear material advantages (money, credits, food, transports), which turned out to be decissive. The South always suffered from the continuous lack of food, clothes, medicines and heavy weapons.

El sentimiento antiesclavista en Francia y Gran Bretaña, cuyos gobiernos eran favorables a la Confederación Sudista, alcanzó tal fuerza que impidió la posibilidad de intervención de estos países en favor de la Confederación.

However, the South, had a stronger military tradition, and men more expert in the use of weapons. They formed an efficient group of officials, among which Robert E. Lee excelled. Lincoln only could find military officers of the same value in Ulisses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.

Although in the first two years the war seemed favorable for the South, these conditionals enabled the Union to blockade the coast of Georgia and the Carolines, isolating the Southern states.

In 1865, the Confederacy surrenders at Appomatox Courthouse, Virginia. 5 days later Abraham Lincoln is assasinated by a former Southern officer.


620.000 people were killed during the war. Wide territories were reduced to ruins. The fields on which the armies fought, were a series of destroyed plantations, barns, and houses, most harvests were lost, and many cattle died. The doctrine of secession was discarted, and a relative freedom was achieved for almost 4 million black people.


The law of reconstruction imposed the military occupation of southern states.

New laws were imposed, and the freed men bureau was created to improve the situations of slaves.

The 13th amendement of the constitution abolished formally slavery in all the territories, being the final point of a series of measures brought about by Abraham Lincoln.

The states that had seceeded in 1861, had to adopt constitutions abolishing slavery to be allowed to enter the Union again.

The supreme court required that individuals had to swear loyalty to the Union to practise their professions. This allowed former secessionists to regain political power in the North.

The political administrations are runned by Northern Republicans , called carpetwaggers and scalawags, because of their corrupt methods. But what annoyed southerns most was that blacks were involved in government.

Black politicians began to be intimidated by confederate simpathizers and by the Kukuxklan, formed by ex -confederate officers.

Freedom for blacks was only a relative one, since almost all blacks, and many poor whites were disenfranchised (not allowed to vote) by means of

Segregation laws

Poll taxes

Literacy tests

Property qualifications.


From the end of the reconstruction period to the beginning of the XX, capitalism transforms an agricultural country into an industry society.

The period is characterized by a general growing of the country:

There is an enormous grown of population.

The enormous and quick expansion of the rail road, and with it of all kinds of industry, was possibilited by 5 factors:



The Homestead Act, offered the Indian land, almost for free to the settlers who wanted to begin the adventure of going west. The obstacle of the Indians was removed by means of broken treaties, war, extermination, and life in reservations.



The economic growing of the country attracted many inmigrants who leaved their countries because of economical difficulties:

1845: Irish potato famine

Jews from Russian pogroms

Collapse of the kingdom of Sicilia (sicilian and napolitan)

Farming in cold and narrow fields (Norwegians and Swedes)

Japanese and chinese people

NEW TECHNOLOGY: telegraph, telephone, light bulb

COMBINATION OF COMPANIES IN TRUSTS: the congress passes a tariff in imports so high that there is no foreign competition. The combinations grow so large that they become monopolies.

As in many other places, a high social price had to be paid for the Industrial Revolution. Despite this unprecedented growing:

Workers were not paid enough to support their families, which leads to ressistance and provokes many strikes. The common law considered a crime of conspiracy that one worker joined to another to ask for high wages. The most serious of these strikes was that of the employees of Pullman Company, a manufacturer of railroad sleeping cars, led by the American Railway Union. (violence , death of workers, destruction of property).


The US had passed, in 120 years, from being a new born country to be one of the wealthiest and largest in the world. After the westward expansion, US promoted several wars to acquire more land. Using as a pretext the blown of the US battleship Maine, they declared the war on Spain, aiding Cuba to achieve independence. In the treaty signed on 1898, Cuba was given to Spain temporarily, until the country achieved its independence. By means of the intervention in Philippines, US got a basis in asiatic waters, what open the access to Asia and, above all, its markets. These two acquisitions, inaugurated an age of self-consciousness as a world player. It was the birth of US imperialism.


At the begining of the war the president Wilson proclaimed formally the neutrality of the US. With the object of preventing food, munitions and other supplies to Great Britain, Germany declared area of war the waters that surrounded Great Britain and Ireland, ordering his submarines that they sink all the enemy ships. In 1915, a German submarine torpedoed a passengers ship, the lusitania, without warning 125 northamerican passengers died. In 1917, Germany declared the submarine war without restrictions in an area larger than the previously established. Germany continued torpedoing neutral ships, and in the same year, the president Wilson asked the Congress to declare the war on Germany.

The entering of the US in the war tipped the balance in favour of the allies.

In 1918 Germany surrenders. The treaty of Versailles would redraw the map of Europe.

It was negotiated during the Conference of Peace hold in Versailles. In the conference they were represented US, Great Britain, France, and Italy. Germany, was excluded from the conversations.

The first section of the Treaty established the formation of the society of nations, which the US didn´t join.

The treaty followed the 14 points of the US president, Woodrow Wilson. Germany had to suppress the obligatory military service, reduce its army to 100 000 men, and pay a high amount of money as indemnization to the alliated powers for the damages made during the conflict. They also have to give ships, trains, cattle and valuable natural resources

Germany recognized the soberany of Belgium, Poland, Czecoslovaquia, and Austria. Alsacy and Lorene were given back to France.

The hard conditions of the treaty raised angered protests in Germany, and gave place to a nationalistic feeling and movement which would be the germ for the ascenssion to the power of the nazi party in the 1930s.

For the US, the treaty represented its position in the world as a bank of the world and world leader. A period of great prosperity would be inaugurated under the presidence of Calvin Coolidge, from 1923 to 1929.


This period of prosperity and optimism, the happy 20s, produced a blind confidence on the economy of the country, and in the possibility of obtaining great benefits with a sure inversion in Wall Street.

In 1927, the financial operators of Wall Street, centered in the interior market. The more they bought, the bigger the increase in prices was, what attracted to more and more investers. In 1929, 9 million of citizens (out of a population of 122 millions), had invested their savings in the national market, adviced by incompetent or interested economical advicers. At fierst, their shares incresased their price, but soon after, some proffesionals began to sell their shares. It provoked a massive reaction. Millions of shares were sold. The price of the shares fell so rapidly that the market collapsed. In one week, the money of million of people just vanished. Not even the biggest companies, as General electric or Woolworth, resisted the crisis.

It was the end of a period characterized by optimism, employement and prosperity. The confidence in the market and bank system disappeared. The bankruptcy was generalized. In less than 6 months, 2 millions of people got out of work.. the middle class was reduced, and the poorest class, increased. The hardest crisis lasted until 1933, when F:D. Roosevelt put in practice his famous new deal.


Before being elected president, when the great crisis was deeper, F. D Roosevelt convinced the so called Brain Trust, (a group of teachers of the university of Columbia, to elaborate an official program to solve the economic crisis begun in 1929.

In 1932, he beated easily Hoover and was elected president.

The congress passed a series of emergency measures designed by Roosevelt to solve the crisis:

National Industry Recovery Act: it fixed prices and wages, and limited competition.

Frazier-Lemke Act: it provided that a farmer could obtain favorable treatment in resolving his bankruptcy problem.

Agricultural adjustment act: force tenants and sharecroppers to leave the land where they had a farm income of less than $300 a year. It also gave aids to enable the tenants to reduce the production.

National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act): It guaranteed the right of the workers to form Trade Unions.

The Tennessee Valley Authority: It established the building of channels to generate electric energy, the improvement of agricultural tecniques and fluvial navigation, and the building of hospitals and schools

the Social Security Act, gave him the unconditional support of the working class.

The politics of the New Deal, attracted the black and other urban minorities, as well as the Laborist Movement,the Democratic Party, which formed the new deal alliance.

Roosevelt had to face the opposition of a conservative section of the congress.


At the end of the 1930s, given the operations of Hitler and Europe, and the Japanes expansionism in the Pacific Ocean, Roosevelt led the country to get involved in international matters. However, he met the oposition of the congress, which passed a series of laws of neutrality. Anyway, the japanese attack to Pearl Harbour in 1941 made US to enter the conflict, joining Great Britain and the URSS.

Roosevelt couldn´t see the end of the conflict, since he died in April of 1945. However, his diplomatic actions in the conferences held during the war, (Casablanca, Quebec, Yalta), helped to get the inconditional surrender of Germany and the creation of the United Nations Organization to assure the prevalence of peace after the war.