The Era of the Weak State

It is the period, 1865 to 1900 that is termed as the era of the weak (Henretta and Brody, 437-461). Within this time period itself, 1865 to 1877 marked the era of “reconstruction” of the nation during which the Southern States were allowed to join the nation once again but on the socio-political front, the civil rights of the black people got established yet excluding many political and social rights (Henretta and Brody, 440-453). The thirteenth amendment of 1865 to the Constitution abolished slavery which was tried to be circumvented by many Southern States (Henretta and Brody, 436). The fourteenth amendment (1868) that protected the equality of all citizens before the law and the fifteenth amendment (1870) that imparted voting rights to all were also partially circumvented in a similar manner by the South (Henretta and Brody, 440-456). All these had a negative and weakening effect on the consolidating process undertaken by the new state.
The period, 1865 to 1890, on the contrary, was the era of agricultural growth, industrialization and urbanization but of course with environmental costs (Henretta and Brody, 430-446). And towards the end of the era of the ‘weak state’, that is between 1877 and 1900, the US began to grow into a full-fledged industrial nation (Henretta and Brody, 462). If it was the feudal social establishment that acted as a weakening element for the state during the 1860s and 70s, towards 1900, the emerging corporate industries took over the same task. It is observed that the new America that emerged in 1900 was “a land of factories, corporate enterprise and industrial workers” (Henretta and Brody, 462). A market of mass dimensions and a wide consumer base grew (Henretta and Brody, 497). Infrastructure facilities were also developed to a great extent thereby helping the industry to grow better (Henretta and Brody, 495-497). The decades that preceded and succeeded in 1900 saw an influx of immigrants from Europe culminating in thoughts about restricting the same and also extreme urbanization (Henretta and Brody, 502-585).

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