American Civil War Essay
The American Civil WarIn 1860, arguably the world’s greatest nation was locked in Civil War. Thewar divided the country between the North (Union) and South (Confederate).
The war lasted five years and by 1865 the Confederate forces were trulybeaten. Out of this horrendous war though, where some 600,000 men died grewa greater sense of nationalism than is today, unrivalled around the world.
The American Civil War is interpreted differently by many historians butmost see the catalyst as slavery, the motivation as economic, the outcomewas a unified national identity.
Slavery was a major issue that triggered the American Civil War. Slaverystarted out, as a few individual slaves coming from England that weregenerally white. This changed however, and soon the Southern slave tradersbegan ‘stealing’ blacks to take back to the South. The slaves were forcedto work 16-hour days, slave women were only seen as breeders and there wereno laws against the rape of a female slave. In 1860 slaves accounted forone third of the South’s population and even still they had no rights (seeappendix one).
The Unionist North many people believed it was immoral toown another human being. These people were called Abolitionists. The Southrelied strongly on the slave trade and when the North spoke of abolishingit, the South spoke of forming there own country, The Confederate states ofAmerica. The South began to see that the North was going to take actionagainst the South’s inhumane slave policy. In early 1860, South Carolinaformed under a new flag, Confederate States of America flag, so that theycould continue to operate their slave trade. What followed was an ordinanceof succession which saw the other slave populated states also swear an oathto the Confederate States of America, also so that they could continuetheir slave trade. This situation was found to be unworkable and it dividedthe country in two. So in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘A house divideagainst itself can not stand. I believe this country can not endurepermanently half-slave, half-free.’ Slavery formed two opposing societiesand could not have been abolished with out the Civil War.
The North was very industrialised and had a stable economy in comparisonto slave-dependant South. During the mid-1800s immigration to the Northskyrocketed. Jones says, ‘the immigration (many escaping the Irish potatofamine) were willing to work for almost anything and withstand inhumanefactory conditions.’ Although this exploitation was extremely cruel andmuch like the treatment of the slaves in the South, the Northern economyprofited immensely (Brinkley,1991:264). Come 1860, the Union had anoverwhelming advantage over the South. The North played host to 109,974industrial firms whereas the South had only 18, 026. The Northern Statesalso produced 96%of the locomotives in the entire country, and as forfirearms, more of them were made in Connecticut than in all the Southernfactories combined (“Civil War”, Encyclopedia Americana:1988). TheSoutherner’s believed cotton to be their biggest industry and economicboosted during the Civil War but they had no factories capable ofprocessing the cotton. The cotton was sent to Northern factories to beprocessed for a fraction of the price the Union sold it back to them for.
This cycle alone made a huge idiosyncrasy in the economies. So with all theindustrial and many economical advantages over the South was it any wonderthat the North were victorious in the Civil War?The cost of the Civil was tremendous not only in money but in lives taken.
By 1865, the South surrendered, slavery was abolished and President Lincolnwas assassinated the total cost of the War for all American’s was around 15billion dollars but priceless for the 600,000 lives lost. What came out ofthis war however suprised everyone, in the next centaury America was seenas the strongest nation in the world. The cause of the war was finallyresolved when slavery was abolished and because of this many inhumane slaveowners went bankrupt with out the slaves running the farms. What followed the American can only be described as the birth of a UnifiedNational Identity. In this period of 5 years in which many people died manyof America’s major problem have been solved. Since the Civil war towns havebeen rebuilt, mew industries flourish, and new schools have been erected.
Now in America both the North and South live prosperously and peacefullytogether. Schenck describes America at the close of the war as, ‘Adeveloping industrial nation emerged from the Civil War and there was agreater sense of nationalism.’ This same sense of nationalism has beenfostered and developed throughout the last 135 years to form arguably theworld’s greatest nation.