As a former superpower, America has been subject to a number of wars ranging from the world war to their own civil war. In most circumstances, each war that America has gone into has had the immediate effect of splitting its citizens into half, as most people have different political perceptions regarding the war. One such war that has been responsible for the disarray of the American society is the American Civil War, which has been identified as the most costly war for Americans. This particular war saw the loss of over 600,000 American lives, as well as, 1million casualties, hence, was dubbed one of the worst wars in American history (Gallagher 651). Lasting from the years 1861 to 1865, the war has been traced back to the earlier tensions that rocked the state in the earlier years of the development of the US nation (Reid 1).
This paper presents an examination of the American Civil War. The paper seeks to investigate the causes and consequences of the war, as well as, the importance of the war in American history.
Researchers and research studies explain that the importance of the civil war is connected with the fact that it brought to an end the practice of slavery in the US. A study of the American civil war is important and necessary because it provides insight into the history of America. This will, in turn, assist in the comprehension of some of the important elements of the American political and historical structure. By studying the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, one is able to understand how and why the American system of government operates as it does to date.
American Civil War
Between the years 1861 and 1865, the United States of America experienced a civil war which researchers presume was a reaction to the election of Abraham Lincoln as a US president (Reid 3). However, other research studies explain that the war was also a reaction and opposition to the practice of slavery in the state, as the American community felt the need to free their slaves. The American Civil War was characterized by conflict between the northern and southern states, as these two regions could not agree on any one issue affecting the state. Sequentially the southern states, who were also the key supporters of slavery affirmed a secession from the United States, and instead joined together to form the confederate states (Gallangher 652). The northern states, on the other hand, were in support of the federal government, hence leading to the clash between these two regions. The two regions engaged in warfare and combat that lasted an estimated four years, and was dubbed the American Civil War. This war saw the surrender of the confederate states and slavery was completely outlawed from the United States of America.
Researchers and historians have identified five main causes of the American civil war including economic and social differences, slavery, rise of the abolition movement, federal rights, as well as, the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of America (Knufper 253).
Economic and Social Differences
Economic and social differences were brought about through agriculture and the farming of cotton as a cash crop for the northern and southern states of America respectively. The states in the south solely depended on cotton farming for their economic survival and for that reason they depended on slaves in their farming activities. Accordingly, the southern states experienced a more disparate social and economic society, as these states consisted of both land owners and slaves (Reid 13). The northern states, on the other hand, experienced an equal economy as they were more focused on industry as opposed to agriculture. The differences in the social order between the northern and southern states, consequently, called for secessions as the slaves in the south demanded equal treatment from their masters.
Slavery has also been identified as one of the causes of the American civil war by historians and researchers. As research studies explain, the expansion of America as a state saw the acquisition of new land by landowners in the state. Sequentially, the need for slaves was also questioned, and for that reason, slavery was prohibited in most regions in the state. Politicians and other members of the government proposed new legislations that were aimed at banning slavery, which, in turn, generated plenty of debate along political and social lines (O’Muhr 8). Tension soon arose in the states that continued to practice slavery, as the slaves begged to be freed from their masters. This then saw the rise of anti-slavery movements that fought for the freedom of slaves.
Rise of the Abolition Movement
More Americans, especially the slaves and the northerners gradually became polarized regarding matters of slavery (O’Muhr 12). Sequentially, more Americans started fighting for abolition and the freedom of slaves from slaveholders. The slaveholders, and supporters of slavery, on the other hand, opposed the need for abolition, and this saw a retaliation of the anti-slavery movements from Americans who supported the practice of slavery in the state. The passage of the fugitive slave act accelerated the growth and development of the abolition movements, as it sought to prosecuted individuals who were involved in harboring fugitive slaves (Reid 63). The tension between the supporters and non-supporters of slavery, sequentially promoted the wars and battles between these two groups.
The period after the revolution saw the rise of two main political groups including those in support of federal rights, and those against the practice of federal rights. These two groups had different perceptions with regards to whether or not the American government should have greater control of state affairs, or whether the citizens of the state needed to be granted this control. Those in support of federal rights argued for the formation of confederations, and encouraged the thirteen states making up the US to join and work together as federal states (O’Muhr 18). This, in turn weakened the government, and as a reaction to this, the government at the time created the US constitution. This constitution ignored the requirements of the articles of confederation, and for that reason, opposers called for the nullification of the constitution. Tensions slowly grew as a result of this, thus the acceleration of the American civil war.
Election of Abraham Lincoln
The last cause of the American civil war as identified by researchers and research studies was centered on the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president of America. Contrary to most people’s beliefs about Lincoln’s position on slavery, Abraham Lincoln was against the practice of slavery in the US, and for that reason, his southern supporters felt that he was in favor of northern interest, as opposed to, their interests. This, in turn, saw the rise of tension as the southern supporters did not feel that he was the best presidential candidate for US presidency.
Various consequences of the American civil war have been identified by researchers and academicians. The consequences of the American civil war can be divided into three broad categories including the end of slavery, the reduction of racism, as well as, and the formation of the American democracy. With relation to the reduction of racism and racist acts, the American civil war changed the attitudes and perception of Americans regarding race, and for that reason, contributed to a positive social creation and interaction between the people of America (O’Muhr 29). Subsequently, the newly formed attitudes and perceptions of the American people brought about other significant outcomes such as the development of a unified American economy, the formulation of new political parties, the development of a new American military tradition, as well as, the improvement of the way the different races related with each other (O’Muhr 30). The American civil war abolished the practice of slavery in the state, as the war’s end saw the defeat of slavery supporters, who constituted the confederacy. This, in turn, saw the outlawing of slavery or any other slave-related practice in the United States of America. Most importantly, the American civil war is said to have paved way for the civil rights legislation, which has been an important factor in American politics to date (Thomas 21-46).
The American Civil war is an important factor in the history of America. Not only does it explain some of the nation’s key political issues, it also provides an explanation of the current state of affairs in the US.
- Work Cited
Gallagher, Gary W. Review: A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History, 1861-1865 by
Russell F. Weigley. The Journal of American History. 88.2(2001): 651-652.
Knupfer, Peter. Review: What They Fought For, 1861-1865. by James M. McPherson. The
Journal of American History. 82.1 (1995): 253.
O’Muhr, G. Causes and Effects of the American Civil War. New York: Rosen Pub Group, 2009.
Reid, Mitchell. The American Civil War, 1861-1865. New York: Longman, 2001. Print.
Thomas, Brook. Thomas Dixon’s A Man of the People: How Lincoln Saved the Union by
Cracking Down on Civil Liberties. Law and Literature, 20.1(2008): 21-46.
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