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1)Although the United States of America is often lauded as one of the most democratic societies in the modern world system, at its founding, the terms of formal membership in the new nation were ill-defined and deeply ambiguous. Commenting on this state of affairs in his essay from Week 1 readings, historian David Bradburn observes, “What an `American’ was…remained unclear [after
the Revolution]…. Ultimately, the great transition of Independence—as millions of British subjects became American citizens—was fraught with the ambiguous meanings of both `citizen’ and `American.’ [Although the Revolution was concluded relatively quickly,] the reality was much more messy, drawn out, and unclear. So, the newness of the meaning of `American citizen’ created
a tremendous problem for the founding generation of the newly independent United States” (Bradburn, p. 1094). What “problem” is Bradburn referring to here? What were the lasting implications of the ambiguous definitions of citizenship laid out during the era of the Constitution?
2)The Republican leaders who were responsible for drafting and putting into place the so called Civil War Amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments) held high hopes that these reforms would alleviate the legacies of slavery and would grant African Americans both US citizenship and all the rights, privileges, immunity, and responsibilities that attached to
the status of being a US citizen. It soon became clear however, that these amendments and other civil rights legislation passed at the time did not come close to fulfilling the promises made to African Americans and others during the period of Reconstruction.
What accounts for the vast gulf between the promise of the Civil War Amendments and what African Americans (and other nonwhite
populations) experienced between the end of the Civil War and 1900?

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