«American Civil War» - Free Essay Paper
The American Civil War is the most renowned historical phenomenon among numerous people in the nation. The major revolution between the years 1776-1783 is argued to be the one that created the nation (McPherson). Nevertheless, the Civil War, which took place between the years 1861-1865, is what determined how the nation would be for centuries to follow. The war resolved two major issues that were clarified during the 1776 revolution. First, was the nation a team of separable sovereign states or was it indivisible and self-governing nation? Secondly, the nation was governed by a right to liberty but continued to be the largest nation to uphold slavery in the world. In retrospect, the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 was seemingly a product of unresolved issues that occurred since the year 1789 after the revolution and the first constitution of the nation was activated.
The American Civil War is considered to have occurred as a result of these long standing questions and differences which were not fully solved in 1789 (The Civil War; Facts, Events & Information about The American Civil War: 1861-1865). This was during the ratification of the constitution. The differences generated a conflict of interests among the American people causing a massive disunion among the member states. The war led to the Southern Confederacy defeat and the passage of XIII, XIV, XV Constitutional amendments. To its glory, it also led to the banning of slavery and the slave trade in the United States of America. It strongly redefined the US as a unit and indivisible rather than a collection of less bound team of independent states. Apart from the two outlined major factors, there were other factors that triggered the nation’s civil war.
The first factor was the economic differences between the people in the north and the south. This occurred in the year 1793 with the invention of a cotton gin by Eli Whitney. The invention elevated the profitability of cotton in the nation. This is because the cotton gin machine was able to reduce the time taken to separate the cotton seeds from the cotton. This caused an increase in the number of plantations owners who wanted to shift from growing other crops to cotton. The sudden increase in cotton production created a high demand for cheap labor force in the cotton fields. This led to increase in slavery in the nation with a short period.
As a result of this occurrence, the southern economy became built on crop production elevating the rate of slavery in the concerned nations. The northern economy was based more on industries than on crop production. As a matter of fact, companies from the Northern region purchased raw cotton from the south and processed it into finished products. The disparity in the two regions generated a major difference in the economic attitudes. The Southern region was focused on the plantation system while the Northern region focused on the urban lifestyle. These societies evolved people who had different cultures and practices. It also meant that people from different social groups had to work together.
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The second factor was conflicts of states and federal rights. From the time the revolution began, two groups developed. There were those that were in support of large states rights. There were also those who argued that the federal government needed to have a greater control than before. The first government in the United States was formed under the Articles of Confederation (Kelly). It was created by a loose confederation of thirteen member states. When conflicts arose, the leaders of the states held a Constitutional Convention in secret and drafted the US Constitution.
Remarkably strong proponents of the other states like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were not present during the secret meeting. Numerous people in the nation felt that the new Constitution ignored all the rights of the states that sought to act independently. They felt that individual states should be mandated to choose whether they would be willing to accept some federal rights. This generated the idea of nullification whereby individual states could have the rights to rule federal rights unconstitutionally. The conflict intensified when the federal government denied this request. Key proponents to nullification such as John C. Calhoun and citizens in support of the move felt that they were no longer respected. This drove them towards seeking for secession.
The third factor was the fight between slaves and the non-slave state proponents. This phenomenon was marked by the 1850 Compromise. The compromise was marked by the establishment of a series of 5 bills, which were aimed to stave the sectional strife. It was intended to cope with slavery which was spread at various territories in the nation. It sought to maintain the southern and northern interests and goals in balance. Among the conflicting proponents were Kansas and Nebraska which were issued the fiat to make their own decision about slavery freely.
From the start of this period, Nebraska was decidedly a free state. Pro as well as anti-slavery forces in the state, travelled to Kansas in an attempt to influence their decision on the matter. This led to the development of a main conflict between the two territories which caused a massive loss of lives. The fight was characterized by the phrase the Bleeding Kansas. During the same period, a controversial act referred to as the Fugitive Slave Act was created. The act gave slave owners the power to travel great latitude to the north in an attempt to capture any escaped prisoners. The act became immensely unpopular by numerous slavery abolitionists as well as moderate anti-slavery forces from the Northern region.
The fourth factor that instigated the civil war was the increase in size of slavery abolition movements. During this period, many Northerners became more polarized in the war against slavery. Numerous sympathizers across the states began to increase and support the abolitionists in their war against slavery as well as slaveholders. This mainly occurred after major events in the nation such as the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Other events included the emergence of the Dred Scott Case, the infamous John Brown’s Raid, as well as the approval of the Fugitive Slave Act. The act held persons responsible for sheltering fugitive slaves irrespective of whether they were based in non-slaves states.
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The final factor was the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president of the United States of America. By the year 1860, the tension between the Northern and the Southern States had grown so strong that event the election of Abraham Lincoln was opposed. This caused the state of South Carolina to issue a Declaration of the Causes of Secession. The state believed that Abraham Lincoln was an anti-slavery leader who was keen on favoring the Northern region’s interests. Ten more states followed secession during the same period. The states were Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and finally, North Carolina.
The end of Civil War marked the beginning of numerous positive and negative effects in the United States. Almost all the fighting took place in the Southern region of the nation. So comparatively, the Southern States experienced a heavier loss than the Northern States of the nation. Regions such as Georgia, as well as Shenandoah Valley, were totally ravaged. At the same time, the freeing of slaves during the war added the property loss to an estimated two billion American dollars. The federal government spent a voluminous amount of money funding the war. It spent around six billion U.S. dollars. The Confederacy also used approximately two billion dollars during the civil war.
The loss of lives during the war was remarkably high. The union army lost approximately three hundred and sixty thousand soldiers. The Confederate army, on the other hand, lost about two hundred and sixty thousand soldiers in the war. Most people succumbed from disease outbreak than during combat in the war. The American Civil War was one of the most tragic occurrences in the American history. States fought against other states, which in turn led to the general destruction of the nation. During this dark phase in American history, so many Americans died compared to all deaths in all other wars summed up. Nevertheless, the Civil War also generated a few positive effects.
The first positive effect of the Civil War was the abolishment of slavery in the United States of America. Slavery in the nation ended effectively after the war was over. All the slaves held by Americans were set free immediately after the war. It is good to note that slavery was not outlawed officially in the government records immediately after the war. It was outlawed when the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution was passed. Although free, the slaves did not have real access to economic, social, and political freedom. The slaves in the nation attained political as well as social freedom between the years 1964-1965. This was with the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
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Federalism and not the anti-federalism emerged victorious in the nation after the war. Initially, the U.S. was considered to be a voluntary union of various sovereign states. After the Civil War, the nation formed a federal government. The federal government took over and became precedence over all individual states. The nation became reunited, and during the same period, the Southern States were allowed to secede. The Southern region of the nation was placed under the rule of the military whereby military districts were created. This is the reason that made the Southern States apply for readmission to the nation’s union.
Heavy construction began after the war. It was a plan to rebuild the nation since the war had caused a massive loss and destruction of property. During the war, the Southern region suffered voluminous destruction. Much of the region’s agricultural economic sector became totally destroyed. Major cities such as Richmond, Charleston, as well as Atlanta, were also destroyed. Cotton, which was the chief cash crop in the south, was destroyed. After the war, intensive financial foundations were laid out by the federal government.
“A Civil War is viewed as a result of the fracturing of a society resulting in social disintegration.” (M.Hazen). Post conflict reconstruction strategies are aimed at creating social integration in order to rebuild the broken social fabric in a society. There were various events that led to the cracking of the social fabric in United States during the Civil War. First, there was the emergence of the market revolution in the nation. This was evidenced by a shift from an agriculturally-based economy to the one based on exchange of goods or services as well as salaries or wages (Spark Notes Editors). These occurrences changed the economies of the Northern and Western regions of the nation extensively. The Northern regions experienced a manufacturing boom while the Southern regions thrived in agricultural production. The chief crop grown was cotton which increased after Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin.
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The second factor that led to the disintegration of the social fabric was the emergence of urbanization trend in the society. During the early 18th century, most of the United State’s lands were owned by farmers. However, in the year 1820, millions of people migrated from rural to urban areas of the nation. During this phase, millions of Irish and German immigrants migrated to the northern cities in search of working opportunities. This led to the advent of wage labor system in the economy. The system played a key role in transforming the social fabric of the American society as it led to the emergence of the first middle class Americans. The middle class people at the time became the driving forces of various reforms in the society. The reform movements advocated for a reduction of alcohol consumption, prostitution, and slavery among others.
The third factor, which triggered the cracks in the social fabric, was the emergence of significant political struggles. This occurred during the antebellum period. The power struggles targeted on the states rights and control powers. The Southern region became dominated by people who believed that individual states should have had the final say as far as all matters associated with the Constitution interpretation. The Northerners believed that the federal government had the control power over all individual states in the nation. This phenomenon caused a heated debate in the nation which was brought to light during the Nullification Crisis in years 1832-1833. The control struggle during this period almost torched off the Civil War.
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The fourth factor, which affected the nation’s social fabric, was the intensified debate over slavery. Between the years 1820-1860, more northerners had started realizing the horrors as well as injustices caused by slavery. The Southerners, on the other hand, had become reliant on slavery since slaves provided the labor force in their cotton fields. The Northerners did not necessarily seek the social and political equality of the minority at the time. They only sought emancipation of the blacks contrary to the desires of the southern elites who saw them as vital elements in cotton production. This debate became critical during the Missouri crisis and also during the annexation of Texas.
The Civil War can be said to have been a conflict of both the states rights and slavery. The two factors were both independent of each other during the period between years 1789 and 1861. The conflict as a result of the state’s rights sought to attain control power of individual states. On the other hand, the other group of states advocated for the federal rule and control policy for all individual states in the nation. The first government in the U.S. was established after the revolution. It was governed under the articles of Confederation. Thirteen states in the U.S. formed a weak federal government which sought to have absolute control of each member state in response to the constitution. Nevertheless, the federal government opposed the move as its leaders felt that it should control all individual states.
On the other hand, slavery had intensified in the United States, and massive abolitionist’s campaigns were on the rise. Numerous Northerners started sympathizing for the minority who were treated with bestiality by the whites. The sympathizers joined slavery abolitionists in their battle to condemn the barbaric acts of the whites who owned slaves at the time. Nevertheless, the two groupings, the Northerners and the Southerners, had a conflict of interests. While people from the industrial economy in the North sought to abolition slavery, people from the southern agricultural economy sought to uphold slavery. Slaves were a significant unit of production in cotton irrigation. This brought a conflict of interests which later instigated the onset of the Civil War.
The size of the federal government before and during the Civil War voiced concerns about its administrative capabilities. The United States of America sought to govern all the states under a single law, the federal law. The nation sought to become a sovereign nation as a whole but not as individual sovereign states. Leaders from some states felt that the size of the government would have been extremely big. They feared that the administration of all states collectively would have been impossible. The conflict of power struggle is what caused the opposition of Abraham Lincoln as the president after election. The states that sought to have individuality in control and administration of the constitution voiced concern that the president would favor the Northern region states. When the federal government failed to honor their pleas, they went forward to seek secession.
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Liberty is considered to be the value of people to have an agency. That is being able to control their individual actions. The changes, which were brought about by the Civil War, affected the United State’s initial concept of liberty. Initially, Americans thought the concept of liberty to be a restraint of the government’s governance from tyrannizing over various individual states. After the war, liberty transformed into a broadening opportunity for the people, more so the free slaves. This was as a result of broadening or an increment in the powers and policies of the government. The concept of power was evidenced by some state’s attempts to seek individuality in governance and interpretation of the Constitution.
In conclusion, the American Civil War is an important historical event that had numerous positive and negative impacts on the nation. The unsettled insures that prevailed after the enactment of the first Constitution in 1789 contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War from year 1861. After the war, the United States of America became a single sovereign nation. Slavery, a principal social problem at the time was abolished. Slaves were set free, and they were accorded their liberal rights as members of a free governing nation.