Women and Politics Since the Reconstruction
Published 26 Jun 2017
Table of content
The Reconstruction brought people to see through racial and gender prejudices
Old world America was a hugely racist and patriarchal society. It was the time of the extensive slavery of black people, and the time when women were viewed as mere housewives who are bound by the whims of their men. However, things changed after the civil war. It called for a freer and more liberal thinking; to recognize that all people, black or white, man or woman, have the capacity to be great in their own way, and should not be limited and discriminated due to their race and gender. As proof of that, after the war, women and blacks stated being accepted in higher positions in the society; they stated taking more active roles in the society. They gradually started being accepted and incorporated in the American politics. America started to become more liberal and free from the bonds of white supremacy and patriarchy.
The American Reconstruction Era began in 1865, after the American civil war, and ended in 1877. It was the period when America was recovering from the civil war. The Civil war was a battle between the United States of America (the Union) formed by the northern Free states and the Confederate States of America formed by the southern slave states. So the war was basically a battle between the superior white males who were imposing their dominance and the black slaves who were asking for equality. Naturally, after the war, the people should compromise and make amends as to what caused the war. With that, the Reconstruction was America’s attempt at interracial democracy; it was supposedly the end of slavery in America as we know it.
Looking at it closer, we can determine that America today, seems to still be under the Reconstruction period. The primary issues then are still relevant and unresolved issues today such as the role of the federal government in protecting citizens’ rights, and the possibility of economic and racial justice.
As for the women, the civil war liberated them from their roles as merely the wives of men and mother of their families. They took more active roles in the society and even filled out roles usually assigned to men while still caring for their families. Their opinions were now being heard and considered. During the reconstruction, the women now knew that there was something more they could do aside from being wives and mothers. Continuing to the present, we can see that there now are female police officers, soldiers, politicians, etc.
A good example of what the Reconstruction period was about is the recent presidential elections. The two leading candidates were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; a woman and a black, and they are both firsts of their kind should either o them win. It is apparent that the old biases on black Americans and women are now being disregarded. More and more people today have now learned to think liberally and see through the notions regarding race and gender. This was what the Reconstruction period was trying to get at. However, a change in the society of such proportions cannot come easy. The development started during the reconstruction and is still continuing up to the present day. There may still be certain prejudices regarding race and gender, those cannot be easily avoided, but the extent of those today is no longer as intense as before.
Today, with a black man has won the elections, it can be expected that racism and prejudices will be lessened even more. People will learn to see that all humans are the same no matter how different our external appearances may be. The desired effects of the Reconstruction period is getting realized even more today.
- Foner, E. (2002). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper Perennial.
- Harrold, S. (2007). The Civil War and Reconstruction. South Carolina State University.
- Perman, M. (1997). Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Major Problems in American History). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Whites L.A. (1995). The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860-1890 Athens: University of Georgia Press.