Secession and Civil War

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In what ways and to what extent did constitutional and social developments between 1860 and 1877 amount to a revolution?

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The constitutional and social changes that took place between 1860 and 1877 can be seen as revolutionary, though they are not often described using that term.

Revolutionary change comes rapidly, not slowly. It is the opposite of evolutionary, or gradual change, because it is a quick, complete overturn of a prior system. It is, by definition, a startling or shocking change.

Between 1860 and 1877, a foundational, seismic shift in racial relations took place in this country, which had been founded on a social order that, since the 1600s, had accepted the premise that it was right (at least in half the states) for whites to own blacks as slaves.

In 1860, a group of slave-owning states asserted states' rights to try to secede from the union, where they felt under increasing threat that slavery would be abolished. This set into motion a series of events that transformed the relationships between black and white people in this country. In 1863, Lincoln freed the slaves in the South and...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 22, 2020
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