Personally, I view America from the mid 1860's through 1900 as a place of great opportunity. I am basing this opinion specifically on the expansion westward by American settlers and the advantages that came with that expansion.
First, I think it is important to mention the Homestead Act of 1862. This act literally gave away free land. Any American head of a family over the age of twenty-one was eligible for this land. This act offers a great example of opportunity for everyone: man, woman, black, or white.
Westward expansion also brought with it new crops and new methods of farming. The Great Plains in the West had a different type of soil; this meant the move West also created new technology. Steel production became very important in American agriculture. This fueled the American economy during a crucial reconstruction period.
Another aspect of westward expansion being beneficial is clear in the religious freedoms that came with it. Finally groups that were previously discriminated against were allowed to practice their religions without hesitation .
and fear of opposition. Mormons, for example, moved to the Utah area and still dominate religious practices there in modern society.
Not only was religious freedom more abundant, racial freedom was also granted. Many southern freedmen moved west during the reconstruction period .
to start fresh. Up to fifteen years after they were emancipated racism had not slowed in the South. The West offered freedmen a new lifestyle unbounded by oppression.
Based on these facts: free land, new crops and technology, and freedom from religious and racial discrimination, America during reconstruction was a land filled with opportunity. While there were many tough roads ahead, for many people reconstruction and westward expansion offered a fresh start, a second chance to succeed in life. Many failed, but one can"t deny that opportunities were not scarce and available to everyone.