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Effects of American Civil War

Updated on July 5, 2020

Effects of American Civil War

Throughout history, there have been many events that changed the world up to the way it is right now, many of these events were the multiple wars that have taken place since the very first signs of civilization, when the human race began to understand how to build and make use of their own tools and the creation of the first ships that allowed them to explore and find new lands that they considered were for their taking, to the ones still happening now all over the world and with many different reasons, some of which have been going on for the last couple of decades. One of the many wars that took an important and defining part of the background and history of the United States as the Civil War, which was a four-year war between the United States and 11 of the Southern states that broke away from the Union and formed what was known as the Confederate States of America[1]. Despite the achievements and changes that came as a result of this war, there is a terrible fact that remains and that is the 625,000 lives that were lost during the four years of war. This essay presents a summary and interpretation of the events related to this war.

During the years before the war began, the country was beginning to evolve into a society that enjoyed the idea of working with the modern concept of capitalism. This resulted in the quick growth of the population, which became more urban and even welcomed more immigrants than in the south. Because of the new process and changes that were still taking place, there was a large variety of markets and products that contributed to the economy, such as farms that still continued to work despite the evolution. “The South between 1788 and 1860 offered many contrasts to the North. The population grew less rapidly. The South was not as urban, and public works were not as extensive.” [2]. As the author points out, there was a large difference in the economy between the Northern states and the Southern ones because it was difficult for the latter to catch up on the evolution that was taking place everywhere else in the country, and it was almost impossible to generate more jobs that would bring people to those areas if what they wanted was to make a living in order to support their families.

Another concept that was part of the balance in this conflict was religion. This was a very important part of people’s lives back then, especially for those who owned or worked at farms since they strongly believed that being good and worshipping the Lord would bring good results upon them and their profession. “Southern religion differed from that in the North in important ways. It was more personal. It was less interested in societal reform and more interested in personal salvation. And education and reform movements did not thrive in the South.” [3]. Religion was also different for both sides of the country; since the North was beginning to move forward with its economic and social advances, it almost seemed like the people living there did not have time for religion, while the Southern people always made sure that this was a significant part of their lives, so they saw the people who live in the North as selfish, thinking of them as people who only cared about what kind of business to make and what the money would bring them in the future, instead of personal salvation as the others were.

The main reason for this war, however, was slavery. Despite the multiple movements in the North to abolish the laws that allowed people to keep slaves and what was known as the Free-soil Party, the South still held a tight grip on these laws since slavery was a big part of both their traditions and their economic incomes. Therefore, while there was a large part of the country fighting for the rights of the people who were being slaved and treated unfairly, the other part was firm in their beliefs that they had a right to own slaves because it promoted their economy and also gave them jobs, even though most of them were kept there against their will, having been brought from all the way across the world after being kidnapped.

It is also pointed out that the election of Abraham Lincoln as the new President was one of the triggers that caused for the war to finally start, because, during that time, people saw him as a man whose ideals and opinions towards slavery made him someone they should be doubtful about because it went against the things they believed in and were trying to keep, and it caused for a large part of the Southern states to break away from the rest of the country at first. “Beginning with South Carolina in December 1860, all the Lower South states passed ordinances of secession by the first week of February 1861. They sent delegates to a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, where they wrote a constitution and established a government for a new nation called the Confederate States of America.”[4]. The author shows that because of their “loss” to the new policies that Lincoln was trying to present, which would allow slaves to finally be free, the lower Southern states decided to separate from the country and create the Confederate States of America, a group that would soon fight against the rest of the country in order to become a separate nation that would allow them to keep their slaves[5].

Because of the ongoing conflict, both sides of it were trying their best to gain as much territory as they could, urging the remaining Southern states that still supported slavery to join them. The Fort Sumter crisis was an event that caused a great loss for the Northern side. “Abraham Lincoln’s decision in April 1861 to resupply the fort triggered an aggressive response from Jefferson Davis’s government. The resultant shelling and capture of the fort caused Lincoln to call for 75,000 volunteers to suppress the rebellion and that, in turn, prompted Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee to join the Confederacy.” [6]. Because of this loss, the North lost what could have been possible allies in the war, leaving the president exposed to what could possibly be more doubts from the supporters that were already on his side, and also the ones who had been reluctant from the beginning. This loss was a terrible hit for the North, but as they moved on with the war, many more losses came for both sides.

It is pointed out that during the four years of war between and North and the South of the country, both sides often took prisoners once they had managed to take over one of the enemy territories, most of this could have been in order to avoid any more of the bloodshed that had already taken place during so long, but it was also meant for negotiation. And after a long time of fighting and losing most men to capture or death, the South decided to come to terms of surrender when they had been surrounded by the enemy tropes. “This surrender marked the end of the war for most Americans. Lee and his army had become synonymous with the Confederacy in the minds of most Northerners and European observers. Confederates had looked to Lee as their principal rallying point for more than two years.” [7]. The surrender of the Southside marked what was known as the beginning of the end for this war, seeing as the man who both sides considered to be the leader of the Confederate side was the one who offered and signed the terms of surrender, allowing for the hope of a peaceful future to fall over the rest of the Americans who wanted it to finally be over, both soldiers who still chose to defend their ideals despite the years of losses and the citizens who were affected by all these events, including the slaves who were held by the Confederates.

There was a movement to consider reconciliation between both sides of the country which was met by the North and, more reluctantly, the Southside, as it was meant to make clear that those who fought for both sides were only defending what they believed was right, fighting for their freedom to live in a country where their ideals were respected and followed as it had happened since the war that gave them their independence[8]. Along with this movement came the fact that slavery became a distant memory as more and more years passed, and that those who were held as slaves by both people in the South and the North gained their freedom and the right to be considered and treated as citizens of the United States, a fact that remains true in the current world.

This war is probably one of the most significant ones in history because this is where it was determined the kind of country that the United States would be, and the direction it would take in the future about the way in which people were treated, especially the ones who had been slaves before the war and struggled to find their way into a society that would treat them with the equality, dignity, and respect they deserved as human beings. Despite all the losses and misery that came during those four years, it marked an important legacy that is still followed in the current time, which is that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity no matter where they come from or what they look like. It is a lesson that was left from all the fights and deaths that resulted from the war, and though many of the reasons and the origins of this war have already vanished from the minds of some citizens, it is vital that people remember at least what their ancestors learned from those four years and the ones that came after.

Bibliography

Gordon, Robert J. The rise and fall of American growth: The US standard of living since the civil war. Vol. 70. Princeton University Press, 2017.

Rable, George C. "Index to Civil War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War." (2018).

Daly, Sarah Zukerman. Organized violence after civil war: The geography of recruitment in Latin America. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.


[1] Gordon, Robert J. The rise and fall of American growth: The US standard of living since the civil war. Vol. 70. Princeton University Press, 2017.

[2] Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.

[3] Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.

[4] Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.

[5] Gordon, Robert J. The rise and fall of American growth: The US standard of living since the civil war. Vol. 70. Princeton University Press, 2017.

[6] Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.

[7] Gallagher, Gary W., and J. Matthew Gallman, eds. Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict Through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians. UNC Press Books, 2019.

[8] Rable, George C. "Index to Civil War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War." (2018).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Michael Omolo

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