The Amendment that Freed U.S.All

The thirteenth amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865 and became the first amendment of the Reconstruction. This amendment abolished all slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment for a crime. The importance of this amendment is that it was passed shortly after the Emancipation of Proclamation to show that the proclamation was not just a temporary war measure for the Civil War. President Lincoln wanted to guarantee the slaves their freedom.

In addition, it is also important to know that it took many years for this Amendment to pass. The amendment was rejected the first time by the House of Representative. It was President Lincoln whom worked closely with the House that got the amendment passed the second time around.


Free Land For Everyone!

Back in May 1862, President Abraham Lincoln passed the first law that granted land to most people, the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act entitled immigrants, freed slaves and Americans to 160 acres of undeveloped land to increase the expansion to the west. In order to gain access to 160 acres of federal land, Settlers had to follow three steps. Those interested in the new law needed to file an application in order to obtain a homestead title. Next, applicants needed to improve and cultivate the land. Although the first two steps seemed fairly easy to fulfill, there was one other requirement. All applicants needed to remain on the granted land for a minimum of five years in order to file for a deed of title which completed step 3.

Despite the promise of the Homestead Act, many applicants were unable to seize the opportunity the new law offered. Only about 40% of applicants who started the process were able to obtain titles to their homestead land. That 40% amounted to 270,000,000 acres of land which equaled 10% of all the land in the United States.

The Homestead Act was also greatly abused as many individuals committed fraud. Instead of building farms and using the land for agriculture, owners used the land to gain access to water and other minerals. A few owners used the land to gather timber and oil. Eventually the Homestead Act was discontinued in 1976 when the government decided to take control of public land and passed the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.


A War to Remember

In the book review of “Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, ” by Eric Foner, it sheds light on the distorted memory of the Civil War. The Civil War may have ended, but the battle of how to remember it is still going on. When asked about their opinions on the war, a Southerner will most likely give a completely different answer than a Northerner. This is primarily because of politics. Both the North and the South wanted the memory of the Civil War to be favorable to them.  In addition, our perspective of the Civil War depends on how racial relations are in present day.

This is an important issue because historical memories are valuable sources to understanding the past. If memories are manipulated, it will present a biased, false impression of the event. There are many instances of historical happenings that result in different experiences and views. For example, the truth about the first Thanksgiving. In American textbooks, the first Thanksgiving was illustrated to be happy and harmonious. The story goes that the Pilgrims met a nice Native American, called Squanto, who taught them how to plant corn.  Out of respect, the Pilgrims invited the Native Americans for a Thanksgiving feast. However, the truth about Thanksgiving is that Pilgrims did not come up with it. Indians had been celebrating Thanksgiving for centuries. Pilgrims were never actually part of it. In the 1890s, the Pilgrims started to be tied in with the tradition after Abraham Lincoln made it a national holiday.

The book is interesting because it reveals the forgotten heroes and repressed memories of the Civil War. It is a useful opportunity to enlighten the people, who previously held certain biases or reservations regarding the war.