There were many serious issues which prevailed in the U.S. between 1846 and 1877. The central, most important, and reoccuring issue was the status of blacks in the republic.

Between 1846 and 1860, the start of the Civil War, several acts and a compromise were passed which dealt with the status of blacks. First, the Wilmot Proviso questioned whether slavery should extend to the territory obtained from Mexico. Then, the Compromise of 1850 made tougher fugitive slave laws which made life for free and enslaved blacks that much harder. Lastly, the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed popular sovereignty to choose whether blacks would live slave or free. These acts and compromises, more often than not oppressed the African Americans and made their plot in life more unbearable.

The time peiod stretching from 1860 to 1865 and encompassing the Civil War saw much disspute over African Americanrights. One man who fought violently for the abolition cause was John Brown. he, along with many followers raided Harper's Ferry in Virginia. This gruesome act petrified the southerners, especially those who owned slaves, and caused them to suppress the Africans. In contrast, it brought Northerners to push for abolition. During the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation raised the blacks somewhat on the social ladder by freeing them. Eventhough the Proclamation was mostly symbolic, it showed that blacks were considered at least human enough to be free. Later, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery legally adn totally given the African Americans one more nudge up the ladder. Another issue in the forefront, was that of blacks fighting in the war. This brought out the strong racial predjudice that existed as some men refused to fight alongside a "negro."

During the last time period, between 1865 and 1877, the social status of blacks remained in the forefront of the political arena. First, the numerous Black Codes passed during Reconstruction belittled, discriminated, and segregated the now free African Americans. Secondly, the 14th and 15th Amendments which gave blacks the privilege of citizenship were large steps towards equality for the long oppressed people. In contrast, the KKK, or Klu Klux Klan, sought to demolish those rights by lynching and terrorizing the African Americans and forcing them back into their so-called "place." Although Reconstruction saw positive steps for black equality, there was much discrimination.

The central and prominent issues which kept blacks in the spotlight for thirty years helped and hindered them all at the same time leaving the question of black status up in the air for years to come