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Reconstruction and the Formerly Enslaved W. Fitzhugh Brundage William B. First, it was a period of tremendous political complexity and far-reaching consequences. A cursory survey of Reconstruction is never satisfying, but a fuller treatment of Reconstruction can be like quick sand—easy to get into but impossible to get out of.
Second, to the extent that students may have any preconceptions about Reconstruction, The Big Questions of Reconstruction Who was an American? What rights should all Americans enjoy? What rights would only some Americans possess? On what terms would the nation be reunited?
What was the status of the former Confederate states?
How would citizenship be defined? Were the former slaves American citizens? When and how would former Confederates regain their citizenship? What form of labor would replace slavery?
However important a command of the chronology of Reconstruction may be, it is equally important that students understand that Reconstruction was a period when American waged a sustained debate over who was an American, what rights should all Americans enjoy, and what rights would only some Americans possess.
In short, Americans engaged in a strenuous debate about the nature of freedom and equality. With the surrender A year in the south 1865 essay Confederate armies and the capture of Jefferson Davis in the spring ofpressing questions demanded immediate answers.
How would citizenship be defined in the postwar nation? Were the former slaves American citizens now? When and how would former Confederates regain their American citizenship?
White Americans did not expect blacks to participate in Reconstruction-era debates. If white northerners had only gradually come to understand that the Civil War was a war to end slavery, they recognized immediately during the postwar era that the place of blacks in American society was inextricably bound up in all these pressing questions of the day.
Even so, white northerners, and more so white southerners, presumed that they would debate and resolve these questions with little or no consideration of black opinion.
Nothing in the previous history of race relations in North America prepared white Americans for the conspicuous role that African Americans played in the events after the Civil War. By the end of Reconstruction, no Americans could doubt that African Americans were intent on claiming their rights as citizens or participating in the debate about their future.
Black citizenship depended on the status of the Confederate states. That African Americans became American citizens was arguably the signal development during Reconstruction. Only a decade earlier the Supreme Court had ruled in the Dred Scott decision in that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not they were slaves—could never be citizens of the United States.
However, any resolution of the status of former slaves had to be resolved within the context of American federalism, because until that time citizenship was defined and protected by state law.
Therefore, the resolution of the citizenship status of blacks was contingent on the status of the former Confederate states and their relationship with the nation at large. After the Civil War, were the Confederate states conquered lands, frontier territories, or states in good standing?
Who exercised the power to define the rights of former slaves would depend upon who held the power to dictate what happened in the former Confederacy.
Were the former Confederate states conquered territory? If so, then the federal government or, in other words, northern whites and Republicans could dictate the reconstruction of the South.
Or were the former Confederate states essentially quasi-frontier territories that had to be readmitted to the union? If so, then the voters of the South would decide the course of the former Confederacy.
In addition, those same voters would decide the content of citizenship in their states. Or were the former Confederate states still states in good standing that would return to their former, pre-war status as soon as southerners elected congressmen, senators, governors?
If that were the case, then presumably the southern states, and the definition of citizenship that prevailed in them before the Civil War, would be restored.
Northern opinion on this question varied widely. Abraham Lincoln, before his murder, had recommended the speedy return of the southern states. Lincoln presumed that the reunion of the nation was of paramount importance. While willing to grant presidential pardons to even high-ranking Confederate officers and politicians, Johnson displayed no interest in extending citizenship to former slaves.
Northerners who had just fought against secession for four years and who had buried hundreds of thousands of wartime casualties refused to tolerate the seating of Confederates in Congress less than a year after the guns fell silent. The issue of African American citizenship provoked equally complex competing views.
White southerners had clear ideas about the social and racial order that would replace slavery; they intended to restrict the rights of citizenship to whites as much as possible.The Racist Roots of Gun Control.
The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws -- and not in any subtle way. A summary of The Final Year: – in History SparkNotes's The Civil War – Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Civil War – and what it means.
Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. American History: A Year in the South, rate) Essay—Stephen V. Ash, A Year in the South, This assignment is to be no less than words, double-spaced, 12pt .
From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes Reconstruction (–) Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays. A Year in the South is novel written by Stephen V. Ash about four Southerners faced an uncertain future/5(1).
Essay Field of Study: American History Educational Level: Bachelor Citation: MLA Complete Instructions DUE Mon, March 9, , PM (4 day rate) Essay—Stephen V. Ash, A Year in the South, This assignment is to be no less than words, double-spaced, 12pt font.