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History of the United States From Reconstruction to the Present Time


Race relations have been the most defining issue in the last 160 years of United States history. The country has a long history of discrimination and violence against minority groups, particularly African Americans. Reconstruction was when the country attempted to rebuild itself after the Civil War and extend civil rights to all citizens, regardless of race (Spruill, 2019). However, this was met with fierce opposition from the Southern states, which refused to recognize the rights of black Americans. This conflict led to several bloody civil rights battles, including the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed as a result of these struggles and has helped make significant progress toward racial equality over the past 50 years.

The history of the United States from Reconstruction to the present day can be divided into four main periods: the period following the American Civil War (1865-1877), Reconstruction (1877-1913), the New Deal (1934-1939), and World War II (1941-1945). During the first three periods, the country tried rebuilding itself and extending civil rights to all citizens (Weber, 2017). This was met with fierce opposition from the Southern states, which refused to recognize the rights of black Americans. The most significant event during Reconstruction was the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1878, which granted African Americans full civil rights. However, this was only a partial victory, as the Southern states continued to resist black Americans’ rights.

The second period, 1913-1934, was known as the New Deal period. This was a time of significant political and social change for the country. In response to the Great Depression (1929-19 39), President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced a series of programs known as the New Deal, which aimed to improve the economic conditions of Americans. One of the most significant New Deal programs was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in public places such as restaurants, theaters, and hotels. The third period, from 1941 to 1945, was known as World War II. The United States was involved in a global war against Nazi Germany and its allies during this time. As a result, many civil rights issues were put on hold as the country focused on defeating the enemy.

However, some important civil rights advances were made during this time, including the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The fourth period, 1945-1987, was known as the Civil Rights Movement. During this time, African Americans continued to fight for their rights in several important areas, including education, employment, and housing. One of the most significant achievements during this time was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in public places. The United States still has several civil rights issues that must be addressed. For example, there is still a large gap between white and black Americans regarding wealth and income, and black Americans are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Additionally, there is a significant gap between black and white Americans in terms of education and literacy rates, as well as in terms of access to health care, housing, and other basic needs. As a result, the United States continues to struggle with issues related to civil rights. However, the progress that has been made over the past several decades is undeniable, and the country is still a far more tolerant and inclusive place than it was in the days of the Civil Rights Movement. . This paper will discuss the history of the U.S. from Reconstruction to present day, focusing on the issue of race relations.

The Civil War and Reconstruction

The Civil War and Reconstruction were times of great turmoil and change in the United States. The country was divided over the issue of slavery, and the war was fought to end the practice. Reconstruction was the period after the war when the country was rebuilding and trying to heal the divisions that the war had caused. During this time, the country made many changes related to race relations. During the antebellum period, slavery was legal in the United States. This meant that African Americans were treated as property and had few rights.

African Americans were not allowed to vote, hold public office, or own land. They were also segregated in all aspects of life. This inequality was apparent in how African Americans were treated (Weber, 2017). The Civil War began in 1861 when Confederate forces attacked the United States government. The war was fought to protect slavery, and the Confederacy (a group of Southern states that supported slavery) lost. As a result of the war, the Union (the main Northern force fighting against the Confederacy) was victorious. The Union then began to implement Reconstruction, a period of rebuilding and reform in the South.

The goal of Reconstruction was to give African Americans equal rights and equality under the law. This included giving them the right to vote, hold public office, and own land. During Reconstruction, African Americans were able to hold some positions of power. This was a major change from the antebellum period when they were almost entirely excluded from politics. Reconstruction ended in 1877, and the country returned to its previous state of inequality. African Americans continued to be segregated in all aspects of life and were not allowed to vote or hold public office (Parrow, 2020).

The Jim Crow Era

The Jim Crow era was a time in American history when African Americans were discriminated against and segregated from the white population (Parrow, 2020). This was when the “separate but equal” doctrine was used to justify discrimination against blacks. The Supreme Court eventually overturned this doctrine in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. However, despite this decision, racial segregation and discrimination continued in many parts of the country. The Jim Crow era ended gradually throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as more and more African Americans started to become politically active and make progress toward equality. Today, race relations in the United States are generally much better than during the Jim Crow era, although some African Americans still face discrimination.

However, the United States has made great progress in race relations over the past century. One of the main reasons that race relations were so bad during the Jim Crow era was because of segregation. This was a legal system in which whites and blacks were kept separate and unequal. This system was in place throughout most of the United States and often led to discrimination against African Americans. For example, blacks were rarely allowed to vote, were frequently segregated in restaurants and public transportation, and were not allowed to live in certain parts of town.

In some cases, black families were even forced to live in separate neighborhoods. Even though segregation was illegal, it continued throughout the United States for many years. Many white people feared black equality and wanted to keep them segregated. However, eventually, this system began to break down as more and more people became politically active and fought for equality. In 1954 the United States began to progress toward equality for all its citizens.

The Civil Rights Movement

It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Civil Rights Movement in American history. The Movement was a struggle to ensure that African Americans would receive the same rights and opportunities as white Americans (Parrow, 2020). The struggle was long and hard, resulting in several important changes in American society. The Civil Rights Movement began in the late 1800s when African Americans began to experience discrimination in many areas of life. They were refused service in restaurants, refused to house, and were treated poorly by law enforcement. This discrimination was particularly acute in the South, where segregation was legal and African Americans were generally excluded from most positions of power(Narcotta-Welp, (2021).

In 1871, the first black person was elected to public office in the United States when James McCrary was elected to the state senate in Louisiana. This was a major milestone in the struggle for civil rights, as it demonstrated that African Americans could be effective political leaders. The Civil Rights Movement reached its peak during the 1960s. This was a time of great change for America, as the country was emerging from the Cold War and becoming more open to diversity. African Americans were fighting for equality not only in terms of civil rights but also in terms of education, employment, and housing.

The Civil Rights Movement ultimately resulted in a number of important changes in American society. For example, segregation was abolished in many parts of the country, and African Americans were given the right to vote (Parrow, 2020). Additionally, businesses began accepting black customers, and affirmative action programs were established to ensure that minorities have equal workplace opportunities. The Civil Rights Movement was long and difficult, but it ultimately resulted in significant improvements for African Americans in America.

The Post-Civil Rights Era

Several different things have characterized the post-civil rights era. One of the most notable changes has been the increased focus on race relations. This has been seen in several different ways. One of the most obvious has been the increased focus on racial discrimination in the workplace. This has been seen in several court cases and has resulted in several changes to employment laws. Another way race relations have been changed is through the increased focus on affirmative action. This has been seen in several different ways, including using quotas for certain positions and creating programs aimed at helping minorities get ahead. Several protests have also marked the post-civil rights era. These protests have been aimed at bringing attention to the issue of race and have resulted in several policy changes. Overall, the post-civil rights era has seen several changes that have focused on the issue of race relations.

The New Millennium

The New Millennium saw a rise in the issue of race relations in the United States. This was due in part to the election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States. Obama’s election brought to light the issue of race relations in the United States and how they had changed over the years. During his office, Obama tried to improve race relations in the United States by addressing issues such as racism and police brutality. Despite these efforts, some aspects of race relations in the United States still need to improve. (Narcotta-Welp, (2021). This is likely due to continuing issues such as racism and inequality. However, there are signs of progress, and it will be interesting to see how race relations develop in the future.

Impact of Race Relation in Reconstruction

The impact of race relations in the Reconstruction period was far-reaching and long-lasting. The period saw the rise of Jim Crow laws, which codified discrimination and segregation in the South. African Americans were denied the right to vote, hold office, or serve on juries. They were also subjected to violence and intimidation by white supremacists (Wood, 2019). Despite these challenges, Reconstruction ultimately created a more equitable society for African Americans. This progress was undone by the backlash of white supremacists and states that reverted to their old ways. Today, race relations in the U.S. remain deeply polarized and tense. However, there have been some recent indications of progress, such as the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. It remains to be seen whether these advances will continue.

Impact of Race Relations in the Gilded Age

The Gilded Age was a time of great social and economic change in the United States. This was a time of great wealth as well as great poverty. There were many new inventions and a growing industrial economy. There were also many social problems, such as crime, poverty, and corruption. One of the most important social issues of the Gilded Age was race relations. During the Gilded Age, there was a great deal of discrimination against black Americans. Blacks were not allowed to vote or hold many important positions in society. This discrimination led to many problems for blacks, including poverty and poor health (Spruill, 2019). Black Americans also suffered from racism and anti-black violence. Overall, the Gilded Age was a time of great inequality and discrimination against black Americans.

Despite these problems, race relations had some positive impacts during the Gilded Age. For example, blacks could create their businesses and networks in society. This helped them to gain economic power and influence (Reisman, 2022). Additionally, the growth of black newspapers helped to disseminate information and advocate for civil rights. Despite these positive effects, the Gilded Age was a time of great inequality and discrimination against black Americans. Ultimately, race relations during the Gilded Age were critical in shaping America’s social landscape during this great change period.

Impact of Race Relation in the Progressive Era

The progressive era was a time of vast change in America. The country was coming out of the Industrial Revolution, and people were beginning to urbanize. This led to several social issues, including race relations. During the progressive era, there was a shift in thinking about race. Previously, white people had dominated society and held all the power(Huerta, 2021). During the progressive era, however, people began to realize that there were different races in America and that these races should be treated equally. One of the ways that the progressive era attempted to address race relations was by creating laws and policies that promoted equality.

For example, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution granted all Americans equal protection under the law. This Amendment helped to promote a more fair society, as it ensured that all races were treated equally (Narcotta-Welp, (2021). Another important way that the progressive era attempted to address race relations was through education. Progressive thinkers believed education could help change people’s attitudes about race. Thus, they funded schools that taught about the history and culture of different races. This effort helped to create a more understanding society, and it helped to promote equality.

Impact of Race Relation in the Great Depression

The Great Depression was a time of economic hardship for all Americans. However, it was especially difficult for African Americans. The unemployment rate for African Americans was much higher than for whites, and many black families were forced to live in poverty. In addition, the Great Depression increased racial violence and discrimination(Huerta, 2021). White Americans sometimes blamed African Americans for the country’s economic problems and exhibited various harmful behaviors toward black Americans. This impact of race relations was particularly evident in the area of employment.

African American workers were often treated poorly by their employers and were less likely than white workers to receive promotions or good salaries. The Great Depression also caused a significant decline in black jobs. As a result, many African Americans were forced to live in poverty and face significant social and economic barriers. Overall, the Great Depression had a devastating impact on African Americans’ lives and contributed significantly to the overall trend of racial discrimination in America.

Impact of Race Relation in the Post WW II Era

The impact of race relations in the post-WW II era can be summarized as follows: The civil rights movement played a significant role in ending the institutionalized discrimination and segregation against black Americans (Huerta, 2021). This eventually led to increased social mobility and improved living standards for the black community. The civil rights movement also created a sense of solidarity and togetherness among black Americans. This helped to strengthen their political power and contributed to the establishment of black-owned businesses. The civil rights movement positively impacted the image of black Americans in society. This helped to promote a more inclusive and tolerant society, which led to increased race relations. Overall, the impact of the civil rights movement on race relations was positive, and made significant progress towards achieving equality.


Race relations in the United States have come a long way since the days of Reconstruction, but there is still much work to be done. The election of Barack Obama as president showed that progress could be made, but there is still a long way to go. Racism is still a problem in the United States and will take time, effort, and education to overcome. Only then can the United States truly become a post-racial society.


Hedges, C., & Huerta, D. (2021). We the Resistance: Documenting a History of Nonviolent Protest in the United States. City Lights Books.

Parrow, E. (2020). “The Friendly and Flowing Savage, Who Is He?”: Manifest Destiny, Native American Stereotypes, and How American Print Culture Closed the Western Frontier, 1865-1890. Scholars Crossing.

Reisman, A. (2022). Document-Based Discussions in History. Making Classroom Discussions Work: Methods for Quality Dialogue in the Social Studies, p. 106.

Spruill, M. J. (2019). Gender Roles, Women’s Rights, and the Polarization of American Politics in the Late 20th Century. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History.

TePoel, D., & Narcotta-Welp, E. (2021). The white moderate, sports, and black lives matter echo Martin Luther King Jr.’s “letter from Birmingham jail” at the University of Iowa. Sport in Society24(5), 697-714.

‌ Weber, T. (2017). The Racialization of “Asia” in the Post-Versailles Period. Embracing “Asia” in China and Japan, pp. 167–227.

Wood, J. (2019). The Godwinian letter: William Godwin’s epistolary exchanges, 1778-1805. The UK.


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