After the Civil War, three amendments to the Constitution changed America.
What was the purpose of these amendments, and why were they necessary?
The South had fewer resources, fewer people, and less industry than the North. Still, Southerners fought fiercely to defend their cause. At first, the South won victories. At one point, Confederate armies under General Robert E. Lee drove northward as far as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, before being driven back. In the last years of the war, Lincoln's most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant, used the massive resources of the North in a full-scale offensive against the South.
After devastating losses, the Confederacy finally surrendered in 1865. The struggle cost more than 600,000 lives—the largest casualty figures of any American war. Although the war left a bitter legacy, it did guarantee that the nation would remain undivided.
How did the 15th Amendment expand democracy in the United States?
As in Western Europe, the Industrial Revolution was transforming the United States at mid-century. By 1900, it led the world in industrial and agricultural output, thanks to many factors. It had vast natural resources, a stable government, and a growing population—supplied mostly by immigrants.
The free enterprise system and the protection of property rights allowed entrepreneurs to invest in expanding businesses. The building of railroads and new technologies that improved communication further helped farming and industry.
By 1900, giant monopolies controlled whole industries. Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie built the nation's largest steel company, while John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company dominated the world's petroleum industry. Big business enjoyed tremendous profits. The growing prosperity was not shared by all. In factories, wages were low and conditions were often brutal. To defend their interests, American workers organized labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor. Unions sought better wages, hours, and working conditions. Struggles with management sometimes erupted into violent confrontations. Slowly, however, workers made gains.
When economic hard times hit in the late 1800s, the farmers also organized to defend their interests. In the 1890s, they joined city workers to support the new Populist party.