TheAmerican Civil War refers to a warfare fought in the United Statesbetween the Union from the North and the Confederacy from the South.It started in 1861 and ended in 1865. The warfare reached aprecarious phase (1860 to 1861) when the 11 slaveholding states splitand established the Confederates States of America. David(2011, p.307) identifies the war as the most destructiveevent in American history that claimed around 1.5 million victimswith around 600,000 fatalities. Historians maintain that the warshaped the United States. However, Northerners viewed the war as arevolution while the Southerners viewed it as a War of Rebellion. Themany differences between the North and the South created conflictsfor many years that erupted during the Civil War. The two regionspossessed profound political, social, and economic differences.However, Slavery was the primary cause of the differences in the tworegions.
Historyof the American Civil War
Americahad survived military and diplomatic disasters and domestic stressesbefore the eruption of the warfare in April 1861 (Guy, 2012). She hadweathered strains with France (in the 1790s), Britain (From 1812 to1815), and rows concerning international borders. Political disputesover economic issues, for example, the government-backed public works(19thCentury internal improvements), a federal bank, and the tariffdivided the Union. However, the disputes did not pose serious threatsto the integrity of the Union since most Americans shared similarinterests despite the cracks long class and ethnic lines. They sharedthe same race (white), language (English), religion (Christianity),and a heritage forged during the Revolutionary War.
Questionsconcerning the slavery institution initiated the separation andconflict. Most people approved the assertion by Abraham Lincoln inhis Second Inauguration Address where he identified slavery as “thecause of the war” (Thomas,2008, p.89).The vice president of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens, echoedLincoln’s words and added that slavery “was the immediate causeof the late rupture and the present revolution” for establishingthe Southern freedom (Thomas, 2008, p.90). The American Constitutionframers had bargained the issue of slavery, forming an independentnation that ensured the freedom of its citizenry. They reassured theSouthern states that they can keep and control slavery within theborders. The irony of the white freedom that partly rested on theestablishment of black slavery remained entrenched in the origins ofthe United States.
Discussionsabout slavery expansion into the state territories tied to theSouth’s attempts to sustain the same number of state and freeslaved caused disarray in the national politics. The disruptionscontinued following The Missouri Compromise, the Wilmot Proviso(aimed at prohibiting slavery in lands obtained due to theMexican-American conflict), and the formation of the Free Soilmovement in 1820, 1846, and 1848 respectively (John,2002).The Compromise of 1850 ended the equality in the Senate whenCalifornia became a free state. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854helped create a fatal territorial violence. The DredScottjudgment by the Supreme Court in 1857 created sectional disorder aswell. The South feared that the rise of the abolition movements wouldend their slave-oriented economic and social systems. Moreover, theNat Turner revolution of 1852, the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, andthe publication of UncleTom’s Cabinby Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852 increased that fear (Thomas,2008).
Thesignificant institutions stopped acting as the stabilizing forceswhen the sectional divisions expanded. John(2009) maintains that someProtestant denominations like the Methodists and Baptists fragmentedinto southern and northern branches. The state political parties thatcompromised to uphold southern and northern factions from the 1830sto 1850s fractured alongside territorial lines. The collapse of theWhig Party during the 1852 presidential election prompted mostnorthern voters to identify the Democratic Party as pro-south. At thesame time, the Republican Party opposed the slavery extensionattempts and won without the support of the South.
Guy(2012) argues that the debates by historians portray conflictingideas about the North and South societies in 1860. One group arguesthat the North invested in businesses, unlike the South thatpossessed most investments in the form of slaves and land. The othergroup maintains that the South and North were alike. Nevertheless,most Americans identified the critical differences between the tworegions, thus, distrusting each other on the future of slavery.
Thepresidential polls of 1860 elicited the separation crisis. AbrahamLincoln and other Republicans opposed the spread of slavery to otherfederal territories despite promising not to interfere with thesubject. The seven Deep South states split to escape the allegedlasting threat to slavery. Lincoln instructed 75,000 volunteers tosubdue the attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederates in mid-April1861 (William, 2009). The four slave-holding states of the UpperSouth like Virginia joined the Deep South members following theattack. The remaining states (also identified as the Border States)maintained their loyalty to the Union.
Thetwo sides militarized on an unprecedented scale during the conflict.According to William (2003), the Confederacy trained around 800,000to 900,000 white men to join the military from the 1860’spopulation of one million.The United States gathered about 2.1 million men whereby over 180,000African American men joined the U.S. Army divisions and 20,000 joinedthe Navy. Nevertheless, the United States maintained decided benefitsin monetary infrastructure, commercial interests, and industrialcapacity.
Eitherside possessed the ability to prevail. The Confederacy wantedindependence and needed to protect itself while the U.S. wanted toforce the split states to leave their expectations of establishinganother country (William,2003).Union armies planned an invasion on the Confederacy to destroy itsability to start war and the Southerners will to revolt. However, theConfederacy knew that prolonging the warfare would prompt the loyalcitizenry to identify the effort as financially and economicallydraining, hence, secure their victory. According to the Confederatewar secretary, George Wythe Randolph, the Union forces “may overrunour frontier States and plunder our coast but, as for conquering us,the thing is an impossibility.”
Accordingto William(2009), the Confederateand Union leaders applied diverse approaches to attain victory. TheUnited States used the alleged “Anaconda Plan” by Winfield Scottthat encompassed a naval barricade to prevent goods from reaching thesouthern ports. The plan was aimed at dividing the Confederacy bycontrolling the Mississippi River. In return, the Confederacydefended its boundaries until deciding to apply thedefensive-offensive strategy. Its armies remained on strategicdefensive to protect the territory. The Confederacy hurled offensiveswhen conditions seemed promising. The most significant offensivesinclude the Battles of Antietam and Perryville of in the year 1862,together with the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 (William,2003).
Martialaffluences receded and was in the run for a couple of years beforethe American forces obtained vital advantage. Devoted stateshesitated several times in their determination, especially whenRobert E. Lee irritated Union attacks in 1863 and 1864 (Pickenpaugh,2013).A chain of Union victories secured by Chattanooga, Shiloh, Donelson,and Vicksburg in 1862 and 1863 including Ulysses Grant at Forts Henrybalanced Lee’s victories. The American soldiers used pressure inCarolinas, Virginia, and Tennessee in 1865, hence, forcing theConfederates to surrender in 1865.
TheCivil War destroyed many lives in the United States. Women undertooklarger roles in the offices (Pickenpaugh,2013).They took jobs in hospitals, government hospitals, factories, theUnited States Sanitary Commission, including charitableestablishments that helped wounded soldiers. White women from theNorth and South started operating farms. The war opened manyopportunities for women outside their homes, but it brought back oldemployment patterns.
Subjugatedsoutherners assumed major roles when the Confederacy placed mostwhite men in the military. Thomas (2008) says that the outcome of thewarfare directly affected around four million African-Americans in1861 compared to other groups in America. The struggle gave themfreedom, especially following the endorsement of the 13thAmendment of the Constitution in 1865. Unfortunately, they situationremained the same since the equal rights bestowed by the Constitutionremained unsettled.
Bothnational administrations extended their powers to increase continuouswarfare efforts (David,Heidler, and Coles, 2002).The Confederacy (a nation supposedly committed to states’privileges saw countless government interferences into the lives ofits citizens. The two sides ratified several state taxes, interferedwith civil rights, and started enlistment soldiers. Some of themeasures taken by Confederacy and United States in 1862 and 1863respectively triggered intense political discussion and explicitantiviolence activities. That warfare generated expenditure on ascale different to the previous one. The state had a $63 millionbudget in 1860, which increased to $1.3 billion in 1865 (Davidet al., 2002).
Similarly,the two sides used modern technological improvements. Railroadstransferred many soldiers and supplies while telegraphiccommunication allowed both administrations to synchronize martialmovements in broadly split regions. The war featured manyapplications of the advanced military technology, such as the riflemusket transported by many infantrymen from the two sides.
Emancipationbecame the most ground-breaking development of the war. Thomas (2008)maintains that the most Radical Republicans and Abolitionistssupported the war unlike the white counterparts from the north.President Lincoln identified emancipation as an instrument thatundermined the Confederacy since the war prolonged and mounted morecasualties. Many devoted white population eventually embracedemancipation as an instrument to assist in winning and restoring theunion. They also wanted to ensure that slaveholding nobles werepunished for starting the warfare and preventing slavery-basedproblems from becoming a prospective danger to the country.Additionally, slaved from the south started escaping to Unionmilitary lines rather than waiting for the politicians to help them.Their actions forced the government to act, which transformed the warfrom a struggle for the Union into a struggle for ending slavery.
Americanspaid a high price during the Civil War. The war resulted in the lossof the lives of many American soldiers compared to the other warscombined since the colonial era and the Vietnam War (David, 2011).The Confederate states suffered huge economic devastation, such aslosing two-thirds of their accumulated wealth (emancipated slavesincluded). David (2011) adds that the wealth reduced by 60%. On thecontrary, the northern region economy flourished, especially by 50%between 1860 and 1870.
ThePolitics of the Civil War
TheCivil War rendered the United States a divided house. The North andSouth did not have anything in common. The politics and economy ofthe South relied on the slavery institution and its benefits. On thecontrary, the North relied on free labor, hence, becoming thecountry’s financial and industrial center by the early 18thCentury. The South started worrying about the attempts by the Northto end slavery following the gaining momentum of the abolitionistmovement.
Theratification of the Constitution in 1787 protected the slave-holdingstates despite the ban on slaves’ importation after 1808. Thestates bordering Mason-Dixon Line in the north, such as Pennsylvaniaand Maryland started outlawing slave labor at the beginning of the19thCentury. Political leaders wanted to irritate the infusingterritorial conflict. The northern leaders embraced Missouri into theUnion on condition that Main becomes an independent territory in theMissouri Compromise of 1820. They also negotiated the position of theregion obtained after the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848 in theCompromise of 1850. The war was also intended to maintain theCongressional power balance between the leaders of slave-holdingstates and the free ones. Moreover, the divisions widened despite thecompromises. For example, the Fugitive Slave Act (A condition in the1850 Compromise) necessitated the assistance of free states incapturing runaway slaved that sought asylum in the areas.Nevertheless, the North overlooked the condition.
TheSouth founded most of its complaints on the principle of the ‘states’rights. However, the aim of the Constitution entailed carving amiddle ground among the robust national government and the autonomyof individual states to make decisions on their own. The nationalgovernment before the American Civil War was very different from themodern government. It focused on issues relating to the army, foreignpolicy, and Indian affairs while decision-making occurred at statelevel. The South started using the states’ rights doctrine as abattle cry in its attempt to shun the north from introducingantislavery measures over time.
Thevictory of Abraham Lincoln during the 1860’s presidential electioncreated more doubt, especially in the North. His name did not appearin nine South regions. Most people viewed the victory as the Northforcing itself on the South. He remained moderate on the issue ofslavery making most northerners to fear that he could not abolish thevice. Lincoln gave a speech in 1858 and maintained that “A housedivided cannot stand.” He promised to end slavery during hiscampaigns. He promised the South to uphold the states’ rightsdoctrine, hence, gaining the support of many southerners.
Atthe same time, South Carolina split from the Union after announcingits autonomy from the American federal government few days afterLincoln’s victory. Six states merged with South Carolina to createConfederate States of America under the leadership of Jefferson Davisfrom Tennessee. Over time, Lincoln warned the Confederates that hewould attack them during his Presidential Inauguration ceremony in4thMarch 1861. The two sides started mobilizing for war and armedconflict a month later.
FreeAfrica American men started volunteering in the Union forces at thestart of the Civil War. The law had banned the men from enlisting inthe U.S. army despite serving in the War of 1812 and AmericanRevolution (David, 2011). President Lincoln feared that allowing themen to enlist would result in the withdrawal of border state, such asMissouri, Kentucky, and Maryland.
Theendorsement of the Second Confiscation and Militia Act free black menallowed free black men to enlist in the army in 1862 (William,2003).The Act freed slaves with masters serving in the Confederate Army.Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, therefore, giving thefree blacks an opportunity to serve their country. The leadersestablished the Bureau of Colored Troops to supervise AfricanAmerican enlistees by May 1863. Recruitment remained low until theefforts of several leaders like Frederick Douglas who encouraged freeAfrican American men to volunteer in the army and acquire fullAmerican citizenship.
AfricanAmericans on the two sides of the warfare performed relief roles,such as blacksmiths, cooks, and nurses (James,2007).The South declined arming them, but instead used them to assume campduties and build barricades. The free slaves from the North performednon-combat duties and reared guarding bridges and railroads becausethe officers did not believe they could fight. The blacks also servedas scouts and spies of the Union Army, offering valuable informationregarding the Confederate forces, accustomed territories, and plans.Information collected from African American sources was valuable andwas placed in a special category called the Black Dispatches. James(2007) stipulates that theescaped slaves who moved to the Union lines garnered the title thecontrabands during the first phases of the warfare. The Uniontechnically viewed them as the Confederate states property. They armychiefs carefully debriefed them and recruited them as spies byreturning them to their former territories with white representativespretending to be masters. Additionally, the Confederates requiredmore soldiers as the war prolonged. They required the assistance ofblack men but their enrollment remained minimal. Around 50 AfricanAmerican men enlisted in the Confederate army. Additionally, somewere still training when the war ended.
TheAfrican American society suffered during the American Civil Warcompared to any other society (Davidet al., 2002).White people took them as slaves and viewed them as property. TheSouth held their distorted perception of the blacks for a long time.At the same time, the North still viewed them as non-equals despitefree them. The North would have won the Civil War if they allowedblack men to enlist in the Union Army. I would have encouraged themto enlist in huge numbers and offer them adequate training. I wouldhave held them as human beings rather them subjecting them tocruelty. The fact that the African American men brought valuableinformation when acting as spies meant that they had the ability toparticipate in the war. Therefore, denying the men the chance toparticipate in the warfare robbed the North and South substantialtalent.
Inconclusion, the American Civil War helped share the history of theUnited States. The North and South conflicted on their views aboutthe slaves, economic, and social issues. The continued competitionresulted in the commencement of the most vicious war in AmericanHistory. However, African Americans were the most affected groupduring the war. Both the North and South did not treat them asequals. The political arena remained divided over the issue of theslaves. Nevertheless, the war prolonged and both sides requiredadditional soldiers. The demand for soldiers forced both sides torelease some black slaves to serve in their armies.
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