What changes did the four bloodiest years of American History bring upon the American society? Aside from signifying the end of slavery, the 1861-1865 American Civil War denoted one of the most prominent and lasting transformation in American History causing the nation’s reconstruction in economic, political and social aspects.
Being on the losing end, the South has been affected negatively. Relying heavily on agriculture and having previously enjoyed profits from the free labor provided by the Black slaves working on the cotton plantations, losing the Civil War meant a devastating blow on their livelihood and economy. Most were forced to abandon their properties; leaving buildings in ruins and lands untended (Trinkley). The North’s economy on the other hand, flourished with the help of the Federal government who provided the construction of railroad systems and banks. The North indeed became increasingly industrialized (Streich, 2009).
When it comes to the political aspect, Lincoln’s aim to preserve the Union was achieved and they were able to maintain sovereignty over the Confederate states who were trying to withdraw from the Constitutional Union. To this day, states continue to support the Union and the Federal government. Had the Confederate states succeeded in their effort, America would not have been a true United States of America (Tubbs, 2007). Most changes caused by the civil war fall under the social aspect. The radical change came from the emancipation of the Black slaves. Freedom from bondage meant they are free to learn, to worship, to own properties and practice various rights free people enjoy. Though they were still treated differently, the Reconstruction assisted them even after the war. Laws and amendments were passed to promote their rights and equality as citizens such as the right to vote (Foner, 1988).
The women too, both from the North and the South, had their fair share of role in the war. While the men were away to fight in the battlefields, women assumed various roles to keep the society running. Some volunteered to be nurses, made bandages for the wounded and knit clothes to keep the soldiers warm. Some even worked as spies and fought in actual battles. While still some worked in the factories to produce arms, ammunitions, uniforms and other supplies for the soldiers. The patriarchal society never thought that women could accomplish such tasks but this war served as an opportunity for women to receive recognition for their abilities and capabilities. People were thankful for their contributions and the media correspondents through paper and radio across the states broadcast of their accomplishments. The status of perception of women improved.
Surely, the civil war transformed one nation. The American society may not be what we know of in the present had the civil war turned out differently.
- Foner, E. (1988). Reconstruction-America’s Unfinished Revolution- 1863-1877 . Harper & Row.
- Trinkley, M. (n.d.). South Carolina – African Americans – Economic Effects of Civil War. Retrieved June 4, 2009, from South Carolina Information Highway: http://www.sciway.net/afam/reconstruction/economic.html
- Women of the Civil War Era. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2009, from Women of the Civil War: http://americancivilwar.com/women/women.html