The Civil War was all the Northern States’ fault. The “issue” of slavery should not have bothered them in the first place. If someone had a problem with slavery the solution was simple: don’t own slaves. Instead, they tried meddling with slavery which lead to the Southern States’ secession and eventually, the Civil War. In my opinion, I think it all began with these new territories acquired from the Mexican-American war. The Northern States refused to allow slavery to enter this new land. Southern States, of course, wanted slavery. This was some great land.
What better way to use it than by growing more crops? Agriculture is great for everyone: it gets people fed and clothed, and it helps the Union’s growing economy. So, how would you grow and pick these crops? You wouldn’t. You would get slaves to do all the work. I fail to understand why the North had this issue over slavery. The North did not want for slavery to expand so they began issuing these crazy acts and laws, like in 1846 they came up with the Wilmot Proviso which prohibited slavery in the new territories. This resulted in the uneven amount of slave states and free states.
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President Zachary Taylor wasn’t doing a good job of helping us out either. He had this plan that would determine if slavery is allowed or not in a territory based on voting. I voted for him because he was a slaveholder so I expected a lot of him. The government also came up with the Compromise of 1850. It was meant to solve the problem of slavery in the new territories and to “satisfy” the Southern States. I approved of it, especially the Fugitive Slave Law. The Northern Abolitionists dreaded it because it targeted all runaway slaves, whether they have been free for 1 day or one decade.
With the election of Abraham Lincoln as our president, every southerner was positive that he was going to abolish slavery. The Southern States just wanted to be treated as equals. It seemed like the North was just trying to destroy slavery, not maintain us united, contrary to what Lincoln said in his inaugural address. The thought of secession made us feel powerful. We are not going to take the North’s oppression. The lower South seceded first, and then the upper South, which became the battleground for most of the war. Secession was probably the only way to maintain our rights.
When the war first began, every man around me was almost eager to enlist in the army. They were proud to show their support and lead the Confederate armies to, hopefully, many victories. I could care less. At this point, the war was not affecting me directly. I still had my dozens of slaves. I was still making money. In 1862, though, the government issued this Conscription Act. By law all able-bodied white males ages 18 to 37 were required to serve in the army. I thought this was a bit ridiculous. Fortunately for me, I owned enough slaves to get out of fighting in this war.
Still, a few of my friends did not have the same fortune. I heard that in 1862, in the Confederate Army’s attempt to invade Maryland, soldiers were not able to fight because they could not walk barefoot through the gravel roads. I was also told about the hardships of the soldiers. All they ate was bacon and cornmeal and eventually, they ran out of food. Apparently the Confederacy was having trouble supplying their troops. Later on in 1863, they passed an Impressment Act. Now farmers, like me, were to sell our crops at lower rates to army officers.
I was not growing an edible crop though, so they took some of my slaves to fight in the war. I was outraged! I thought this war was getting a bit out of hand. Why would you even try fighting in a war which you cannot even supply? First, this government can’t even raise a proper army. Next, they can’t provide food or even clothing to these poor men. I don’t even think the government tried raising money to pay for these costs. If I was Jefferson Davis, I would have taxed the population a lot more, regardless of what the constitution said.
Instead, they decide to print paper money, and lots of it. I thought this was a very stupid idea. There was all this paper money floating around everywhere and it was basically worthless. There was 9000% inflation. I was barely selling cotton now. People just could not afford it. Not even Europe was buying cotton from us. In all honesty, I was not very good at keeping up with the war. Since I was not fighting in the war, I did not hear about many battles. Through the grapevine, I was able to hear about some of the major battles, especially the Confederate victories.
It seemed like in the east, the Confederacy would always come out victorious: The First Manassas, The Seven Days’ Battles, The Second Manassas, the Battle of Fredericksburg; in the west, the Union beat us: Shiloh, New Orleans. I almost thought the Confederacy had this war in the bag: “We’re going to win this! ,” I would hear a lot of people say. But, there was one battle everyone heard about: the Battle of Sharpsburg in September of 1862, or the Battle of Antietam, as the Northerners like to call it. Supposedly it was the bloodiest battle in the entire war. It was a Union victory.
Though I was not there, this battle changed my life. This single battle led to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. This law banned slavery. I lost all of my slaves. At this point, I thought “We already lost. ” The whole point of us fighting this war was to maintain our rights and independence from the Union. They had just removed our right to own property. Yet, the war was nowhere near over. Since we had been deprived of our slaves, we were not able to produce the same amounts of cotton and other foods that we could 5 years ago. I was still able to maintain myself fed and alive with the bit of cotton I produced.
I knew it was wrong but I began to trade with Northerners. They needed my cotton and I needed their food. Others were not as fortunate. A lot of families were completely devastated. Soon after the Emancipation Proclamation, there seemed to be a turning point in the war. In 1863, the Union had finally emerged victorious in the East: first, in Vicksburg, where Confederate soldiers apparently told their commander “If you can’t feed us, you’d better surrender,” so he ended up surrendering, and later in Gettysburg. The Confederacy finally surrendered in 1865 at the Appomattox Court House.
As much as I did not want for the Confederacy to surrender, I was somewhat glad. If we would not have surrendered, we would have continued fighting. Now, there was no use in continuing to fight. Lincoln was most likely planning to give Negroes more rights, but his assassination impeded any of that, or so I thought. Andrew Johnson, a southerner, followed Lincoln. Johnson was going to reimburse everyone of their lost property except for military officers’, and wealthy citizens, like myself. He was only helping the poor man. Congress also adopted two new amendments during the reconstruction process.
The Fourteenth Amendment proclaimed that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were citizens; all of the freed slaves were now citizens of this country and The Fifteenth Amendment gave Negroes the right to vote. I did not let the new rights of former slaves bother me. Instead, I focused on my economic well being. Since I had lost my slaves, I decided to hire these freedmen. They did not deserve to be paid much. When they were slaves, these people worked 10 times as hard. This method was not getting me much money so I began “sharecropping. ” Basically I leased a portion of my plantation to a freedman for one-half of the crop.