Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trans-Continental Railroad

The Trans-Continental Railroad was a great and infamous milestone in our country’s history when it comes to transportation. Congress thought long and hard to find a transcontinental plan that would work for the country. Congress finally passed an effective trans-continental plan known as the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, right after the south seceded and the Civil War began, and happily signed by President Abraham Lincoln. In this essay we will look into detail of what the Trans-Continental railroad was and its construction, along with why it was so important and such a big issue.

The four men that really brought this idea to life, known as the “Big Four”, were Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. These men were the driving force behind the railroad, also placing there own money into the construction. These four men came together, all being merchants, and formed the Central Pacific Railroad Company.

The plans for construction are as follows. The law stated that two railroads, coming form opposite sides, would work their way towards each other until they met. Both of these railroad lines were given a lot of financial support, not only monetary but, they were given areas of land as well. For instance, for every mile of track laid, each company was given 6,400 acres of land. Two years later these figures were changed, each railroad was now granted twice as much land as before. Also, America’s railroad tracks would now have a standard setting of 4 feet 8.5 inches in width.

“The greatest historical event in transportation on the continent occurred at Promontory, Utah, on May 10, 1869, as the Union Pacific tracks joined those of the Central Pacific Railroad” This quotes shows how really important the railroad really was to our country linking the California to the rest of the country. It formed the basis of the huge Southern Pacific system. This was the foundation of transportation that we have used for centuries and in some form still use today.

In conclusion, the Trans-Continental Railroad was extremely important to the development of our country. It linked our country together for the first real effective time in history. Without the great men and ideas behind it, it would have taken our country a lot longer to see the railroad track come together. This time in history we really see a great development in transportation and a great development in the making of America’s history.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The World's Fair of 1863

The 1893 Worlds Fair was such a grand example of the Gilded Age because the Gilded Age was an era of reform. This took place only a decade or so after the end of the civil war and the country was just beginning to enter a state of reform. By far I think that the most important thing debuted at the fair was the Ferris wheel because it brought and still brings much joy to many people and I think that with all the hardship the country endured it was good for citizens to relax.

“The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, was a landmark event in American history and culture. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the Fair was a means of celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World and promoting the progress of man in science, industry, and culture since that historic event.” After the dedication ceremony in 1892, construction continued on until 1893, but due to the harsh winter found in Illinois it made progress very slow. Surprising everyone and against many odds, the World’s Fair opened up to the public on May 1, 1893. Two years and 19 million dollars were put into the amazing exposition.

Opening day was a sight to see. Never in American history do we see that many people travel anywhere to attend an event. The exposition was opened by President Grover Cleveland. Within only that first day nearly 129,000 people paid to enter into the fair. Although somewhat pricey for the time, people paid the fifty cents for adults and twenty five cents for children to gladly enter.

In my opinion the most important thing debuted at the World’s Fair in 1893 is the Ferris wheel. It was the most visited attraction there and was invented by George W. Ferris. He spent roughly 275,000 dollars constructing the enormous attraction. “The Ferris Wheel offered unparalleled views of the Exposition and surrounding city. The electric lights of the Fair made the Wheel one of the most popular after-dark activities. Over 1.5 million people boarded the Ferris Wheel during its five months of operation.” I think that it was the most important thing debuted at the fair because it was put to great use and brought so much joy to those who needed to be reminded of our great country.

In conclusion the 1893 Worlds Fair was such a grand example of the Gilded Age because the Gilded Age was an era of reform. It reminded the American people of what America is. By far the Ferris wheel was the most important thing debuted there at the fair and was another great example of how far country has come and will go.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

With the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, our country fell into the hands of Andrew Johnson. With his presidency continuing on until William McKinley, we will view their choices and historical facts during each of their terms. We will see how many made choices that led to multiple oppositions, while others did little to make an impact on our country.

Beginning with Johnson, we see that the Radical Republicans had no shame walking all over his ideas and passing legislation over his veto. He was impeached in 1867 due to him breaking one of the restricting laws placed over him by the Radicals. U.S. Grant was one of the presidents that did little to make an impact on our country, in my opinion. Yes, he was a key general in the war, but did little serving his terms, other than the couple of scandals. Now we mover onto Rutherford B. Hayes,
“Beneficiary of the most fiercely disputed election in American history, Rutherford B. Hayes brought to the Executive Mansion dignity, honesty, and moderate reform.”

“As the last of the log cabin Presidents, James A. Garfield attacked political corruption and won back for the Presidency a measure of prestige it had lost during the Reconstruction period.”
Garfield was not able to make an incredible legacy during his presidency, he was shot and killed the year he became president. He was succeeded by Chester A. Arthur. Under Arthur’s presidency two major acts were passed, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Pendleton Civil Service Act. The Pendleton Civil Service Act led to a permanent federal civil service system. Grover Cleveland was the president following Arthur. Cleveland vetoed many bills and many acts. When he was elected again he faced a small depression.
“The First Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later.”

Under Benjamin Harrison many acts were passed, allowing higher duties to be paid on most imports. By looking at the research I have, it seems that many presidents did not pass very many acts or bills at all but Harrison was not one of them. He passed three substantial acts all during one year. Many historians consider his term to be productive. Following Benjamin Harrison was Cleveland who was the first and only president elected in nonconsecutive terms. To end the era known to Mr. Lockwood as “poor politicking” we conclude with the term of William McKinley.
“When McKinley became President, the depression of 1893 had almost run its course and with it the extreme agitation over silver. Deferring action on the money question, he called Congress into special session to enact the highest tariff in history.”
This tariff is known as the McKinley Tariff. McKinley became the third president to be assassinated.

In conclusion I have seen that during this era I could see why Mr. Lockwood calls this era the era of “poor politicking”. It seems to me that this era of presidencies did not really make an impact on our country, some presidents were faced with many opponents while others either didn’t get a chance to make change or did little to make a change.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Radical Reconstruction

The Radical Reconstruction was met by a lot of resistance. Many disagreed with the policy because it was more of a punishment to get back at the south, rather than mend the country. Many against the policy being pushed by the Radical Republicans argued against it. The purpose of this essay is to look at what the Radical Reconstruction was, who the Radical Republicans were, why people were opposed to them and their policy, and whether or not they were the reason for the failure of their policy.

"Radical Reconstruction, also known as Congressional Reconstruction, was the time when congressional Republicans, moderates and Radicals, controlled Reconstruction in the South."

The Radical Republicans were motivated by three main factors as to why they issued their reconstruction plan. For one they had revenge. They desperately wanted to get back at the South for causing the war. Two, they were concerned for the freedmen. Third,they were politically concerned. They wanted to make sure that their political party stayed in power in both the north and the south.

This is why so many disagreed with the Radical Reconstruction. The Radical Republicans were political terrors and would stop at nothing to get to what they wanted. They went over the presidents wishes and passed laws that they created. Yes the Radical Republicans had a good reason to fight, in my opinion, for black and white integration, but they went about it the entirely wrong way.

President Johnson was in complete disagreement with the Radical Republicans when it came to their Freedmen’s Bureau Bill. He vetoed it along with the Civil Rights Bill as well. This angered moderate Republicans and Radical Republicans as well. They together undid his veto of the two bills. This was the first time that this has ever occurred in history. The Republicans hoped that the Civil Rights Act would lead to a branch with right enforcing courts.

Amending the Constitution was the focus of Congress in Congress then focused on 1867. The Fourteenth Amendment was approved, which prohibited "states from abridging equality before the law." The second part of the Amendment basically gave the South a choice, they were either to accept black men and women as freed people or they would loose representation in congress.

The Radical Republicans faced so much opposition for a couple issues. For one, they stepped on many people’s toes and crossed too many lines to try to achieve their goals. The other reason that they were opposed was because this issue was rather controversial during this time, being that it was just after the war had ended. I think that the Radical Republicans were only part of the failure of this policy not sure if I think they were the whole reason for this failure but I think they were at least partially responsible because they were the ones who went way too far in pushing they’re beliefs.

American people creating a nation and a society. New York: Harper & Row, 1990. Print.