The civil war created a big rift between the North and the South that was not easily mended. After the decisive union victory the government had to create an ingenious plan for reconstruction. After Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson tried to carry out many of the former plans. Sectional tensions surrounded the civil war, and the role of the federal government was greatly impacted in terms of race relations and western expansion during the period between 1861 and 1877. The post-civil war role of the federal government concerning race relations seemed solely to be the ensurance of the freedom of slaves. The government followed through with this action despite the large blow to the southern economy. To support slaves, the federal government passes three pro- African American Reconstruction amendments. The 13th abolished slavery, the 14th gave slaves the right to be citizens, and the 15th gave African Americans the right to vote. The government had completely changed since before the civil war and during the reconstruction, was very antislavery. However Southerners soon found ways to slide around these amendments. Slavery was abolished but soon after the sharecropping system was established providing African Americans with essentially the same future.
Even after the 15th amendment was passed African Americans were still denied the right to vote by such state laws as poll taxes, literary tests, and grandfather clauses (only applying to blacks). The federal government simply chose to ignore these actions. This ignorance simply showed a limited amount of power. In the post-Civil war era, the federal government’s role in westward expansion was greatly changed. Previous to the civil war, all issues of expansion became federal government issues. The Missouri compromise and later the Kansas and Nebraska compromise which both required federal government aid to help determine expansion based on slavery. After the abolition of slavery the western frontier was not so severely disputed.
The role of the federal government became the promotion of expansion into the “new frontier”. The federal government almost lost power in determining westward expansion because it was not necessary to be so closely involved. The new role was only to dive the lands and set prices for each area. Such a role is quite different from peacemaking, compromising, pre-civil war government. During the time after the civil war, commonly known as reconstruction, the government was most concerned with the peaceful integration of the South back into the union. Race relations involving the federal government were more prominent much later in history when equal rights and desegration would become an ever increasing problem. For the moment many African Americans were content with the view to “cast down the bucket” and be patient in waiting for equality. Western expansion was only a limited problem since not to long after the civil war, there will be no more frontier left. To future Presidents such as expansionist Theodore Roosevelt, expansion would lie beyond the borders of the United states.