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Jenny Smith and Her Role in the Civil War

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    Both women from the Union and The Confederate Army played a huge role in the Civil War. From things as important as tending to wounded soldiers on the front lines, to simple things such as providing a sense of hope for soldiers serving in the war, women were a key part in the war effort. Women who were limited in terms of importance, gained a significant amount of more authority and leadership as a result of the war. Mothers and Wives of deployed soldiers became the heads of household, carrying out roles, such as tending crops and animals, traditionally done by a man. Women who were not used to engaging in the workforce were able to find jobs, such as civil services and even as teachers, which no women had done prior. Women became both happy and stressed from their updated lifestyles. Thousands of women helped in the war effort by become nurses.

    One specific example being Janie Smith. During the civil war, her previously peaceful farm was transformed into a hospital for wounded soldiers. Her experience was chaotic, describing how there was amputee after amputee and “puddles” of blood. Many women such as Janie had to adapt to their circumstances, and most even learned the ways of nursing. Although nursing was a principal role in the Civil War, many women contributed in many other ways, including fundraising. Northern Women in particular stayed home and put together thousands of soldier aid societies, helping roll bandages and raising $3 million to assist wounded soldiers. Many women also sought to raise awareness and money to attempt to improve soldier hygiene and health. In conclusion, the civil war gave women a place in society never experience before. In male dominated fields, such as nursing, women fought for a chance to serve in the frontlines. Overall, the civil war was a revolutionary time for women, and affected them in various ways.

    The election of 1876 is said to be one of the most controversial elections of all time, between Rutherford Hayes of the republican party, and Samuel Tilden, a democrat, there were ultimately numerous issues that arose due to this election. As this election drew near, it was becoming clear that Northern states had no more interest in reconstruction plans, and no longer wanted to achieve goals set by the reconstruction. Running dominantly in Southern states, Tilden won in the popular vote, and in terms of the electoral vote, he was ahead as well. He needed just an additional electoral vote to achieve victory over rival Hayes. Despite this lead, three states with nineteen were still being contested, those states being Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. The votes by these states were very significant, as they would ultimately decide whom would become the next President.

    Both Rutherford and Samuel were asserting victory in these states, even though deception was done by both parties. In order to settle this dispute, Congress put together an electoral commision, which ultimately gave triumph to Rutherford Hayes. By doing this, however, congress feared it would start another civil war, as many people from the South swore, “Tiden or Fight!” To solve this, and come to an agreement, the infamous Compromise of 1877 came about. This informal agreement, done in a hotel in Washington, made it that Hayes was gifted presidency, as long as he provided aid to the South, and removed the last remaining Northern troops from the South. This essentially gave the South full political control in these states, thus essentially giving up on reconstruction. The Compromise of 1877 basically symbolized the end of reconstruction as republicans abandoned it in order to ensure Rutherford Hayes’ victory in the election of 1876. Southerners obviously had much delight about this ordeal, because although the next president was republican, they seemingly had no issues as he vowed to discontinue reconstruction efforts.

    On the other hand, African Americans mourned over their lost hope for equality, as the Republican party had silently gave up on the fight for equal rights for African Americans in the South. Although the South had promised to uphold the rights of Blacks, they did not pull through as African Americans faced segregation, and lived lives of poverty. In conclusion, the Election of 1876 was extremely problematic, and in the end, even though the Republican nominee had won, Democrats had achieved political domination in the South. The new-found rights of African Americans and the goals of reconstruction collapsed under Democratic control that occured in the South, due to The Compromise of 1877.

    Due to the civil war, chaos and uncertainty lingered around all members of the United States, as no one knew what was to come. Questions arose such as, “How will the nation get restored?” and, “How will Southern leaders and states be treated?” Overall, four main questions caused distress to the south; which essentially was who was to rule in the newly defeated South, and what would be the rights of freedmen. People also wondered if the Reconstruction would simply be a preservation of the republic, or a renovated version of it. In order to solve these issues, the first of many reconstruction plans came to be, this being Lincoln’s 10 Percent Plan. Lincoln’s plan, he called for lenient terms to be given to Southerners who surrendered, and ultimately wanted a smooth and quick Reconstruction. He gave pardon to any ex-Confederates who seeked it, exempting very high rank officials. Only a mere 10 percent of voters in any given Southern state had to have taken a vow to the United States and bring forth a new government. After accomplishing these minimal tasks, the states would be readmitted into the union. Lincoln faced backlash, as congress believe his plan to be too lenient to Southerners. Many even called it a “mockery” of democracy. With Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens leading the way, radical republicans put together a new reconstruction plan with harsher conditions. They argued the States had given up their place in the United States due to the war, and had to be treated as “conquered foreign lands.” In the Summer months of 1864, the Wade-Davis bill was passed with three main conditions for the readmission of Southern States. The first rule was, most white males were required to participate in creating a new government. The second was in order to gain the ability to vote, men had to take an oath, declaring they had never helped confederate nations in the war. The final condition was any officer that was above the Lieutenant rank, and any Confederate States officials would not be seen as United States Citizens. Under the Wade-Davis Bill, the readmission of the South back into the United States was harsh and slow. When comparing the two, it’s difficult to define which was ultimately better keeping in mind the whole country, both North and South. In terms of fairness, many can argue Lincoln used disgraceful leniency in his plan, and was much too easy on the Southerners, as many others may argue in comparison the Wade-Davis Plan was much more strict on the South. In my opinion, I would say the Wade-Davis Plan was better in terms of effectiveness and fairness. After all, the south had literally committed treason against the United States, and had to earn their trust and rights back from the Northern States. What appeared during this time was a crisis, as no one was certain quite how to go about the reconstruction, and which plan would serve as more effective. Lincoln viewed Reconstruction as a way to denounce the power once held by the Confederate States and gaining victory in the war, as Republicans viewed it as a reinvention of the racial and political order in the United States.


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