Running Head: Civil War Origins and Legacy Civil War Origins and Legacy University of Phoenix Hist/110 August 25, 2008 Origins and Legacy of the Civil War Perhaps the greatest war in American History, the Civil War is unique because of the fact that it was the only war fought on American soil. The American Civil War’s origins were brought forth by complex issues dealing with slavery, expansionism, sectionalism, and political party politics. However the Civil War was mainly devised because of slavery issues and later intensified by tariff issues as well.
During this time the United States was forced to confront the issue of whether new areas of settlement were going to be pro-slave states or no slave holding states. After the war slavery was still an ongoing issue in society until it was diminished by Abraham Lincoln. However racial discrimination continued amongst many southerners after blacks were given the right to vote. This summary of the origins and legacy of the Civil War will give more insight of the events that led to the end of slavery and the reconstruction of a new nation. Origins and Legacy
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The origins of the Civil War can be found at the time of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” Although Jefferson wouldn’t know that this would start a war a hundred years after he wrote them, they were used in debates by both supporters and combatants of slavery. However, slavery was only a part of the reason that the Civil War happened.
Other factors such as economic differences between the northern and southern states, government influence and population also contributed to the beginning of the war. The war did not break out until all these things broke the southerners back and they decided to secede from the Union. The Civil War did not start because of slavery, although it was an underlying reason, rather President Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union in its entirety. Therefore, the Civil War started on the basis that the Union would not be split but preserved as one nation.
The legacy that the Civil War left behind for future generations was one of hope, equality and understanding. However, the rebuilding of the South and the new laws that were to be enacted to stop any other wars breaking out that would divide the Union were an endeavor that would shape the future of the South, North and the rest of the United States for many years. The freeing of the slaves in the South has led to many other equality reforms throughout the years which have made all men and women equal.
Although there are some feelings and ideologies that still reflect the old slavery ways, the majority of people feel that equality abounds for all people because of the efforts and successes of the North during the Civil War. Significance One of the greatest Presidents (and Commander in Chief) of all times may have had different views of slavery than we would like to believe. To him, the civil war was not brought about to abolish slavery, nor was it to debate the morality of treating human beings as chattel but throughout the years, as the subject refused to go away, he was forced to respond to it.
In a speech given on August 21, 1858 in Ottawa, Illinois, he states: “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably for ever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.
I have never said anything to the contrary; but I hold, that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,???the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas, he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without he leave of anybody, which his own hand earns, he is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of any living man. . . .” (Roe , 1907). The significance of the war depended a lot on which side you were on at the time. The north supported the freeing of slaves and preserving the union while the South was fighting for states rights and needed the slaves to survive economically. Of course Lincoln, forever torn and doing his best to play devils advocate, finally, on September 22, 1862, signed the Emancipation Proclamation to be put into effect on January 1, 1863. History. com, 1996-2008). This proclamation freed only certain states at a time, slowing the shock to the nations system but not shielding it all together. The thing is, at that time, not all southerners owned slaves and not all slaves were treated as horribly as we hear. In contrast, in the north, you either owned a factory or worked as a laborer (or an “indentured servant” ) being horribly mistreated and paid next to nothing for it, most of the time in unsafe conditions.
In fact, immigrants, women, and children are the ones who mainly worked in the factories because then the rich factory owner would not have to pay the normal wage of a skilled worker. Upper class persons may have felt a slight sting but lower class peoples were in a depression situation due to the war and would do anything they had to make ends meet. This is one of the changes that the Civil war produced. In Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation, there is a line that states “And I ereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. ” (History. com, 1996-2008). Because there were so many more persons out there in the world vying for the same underpaid, under appreciated jobs, the American economy took a nosedive even further. Post Civil war was not at all like its antebellum pre Civil war state. The changes the Civil war and the Emancipation Proclamation would cause this great nation in the years to come are many.
Charles Beard labeled it “Second American Revolution,” claiming that “at bottom the so-called Civil War was a social war, ending in the unquestioned establishment of a new power in the government, making vast changes in the course of industrial development, and in the constitution inherited from the Fathers” (Beard and Beard 1927: 53). Slavery In 1700 approximately 25 thousand African slaves worked in America brought by British, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish ships but during the next few years England took over the slave trade with American colonists and increased the amount of slaves brought to the growing land. Ingraham, 1968). Driving the increase in slave ownership was increasing demand for field workers in Southern areas compared to Northern states use of free labor for industry. In the next two hundred years this division of labor and needs would affect economic, social and political views eventually dividing the nation until one side of thinking would force the opposition the idea of slavery and adopt a new a way of life. The idea of slavery economics comes down to warmer climates in Southern America providing ideal growing conditions for cotton, rice, tobacco and indigo, when farmers had enough cheap labor to harvest crops.
In essays on the economics of Slavery by author Yanochik (1997) the argument is made that owners must turn enough profit to maintain plantations and provide for the welfare of workers covering the cost of incapacitated slaves for health and training reasons. The social aspect of being a slave changed in the mid 1700 hundreds as slave importation decreased and the balance of male and female slaves leveled out and more babies were born on American soil (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2002).
In operating larger plantation some owners used a gang approach with a white overseer and black drivers while smaller plantations used a task system for managing work of slaves. Life on plantations was not easy and one half of all children born in the 1700s died as did some women while giving birth (Yanochik, 1997). Slaves faced uncertain futures often with choices decided by owner’s finances and health. If a plantation suffered financial troubles owners sold off slaves to pay debts and when owners died groups of slaves split going to different owner relatives breaking up black families Davidson et all (2002).
While wealthy plantation owners lived in large homes slaves in the south lived in log huts with dirt floors and regularly ate two meals a day, sometimes three during harvest season (Andrist, 1967). Slavery heated up politics in the mid 1800s. By 1850 over 90% of the slaves in America lived on plantations in the South and the issue of slavery drove political discussions of each individual state (Ingraham, 1968). On March 6, 1857 America’s Supreme Court decided that Dred Scott, a black slave did not have the right to sue for freedom as slaves were not citizens and would never be.
The court also ruled the Missouri compromise was wrong and declared Congress could not exclude slavery from any state (1967). Slavery issues being decided in court reflects the political sensitivity of slavery in America during the mid 1800s and a divided nation that would go to battle over the issue in 1861 with the Civil War and eventually abolish slavery in America (Ingraham, 1968). Addressing the Crisis The separate ideas of freedom in the North and Slavery in the South and??the isolation of the regions??peaked??in the??1860 election??of Republican Abraham Lincoln.
The democratic nation and government set up unfortunately failed to address this crisis between the two regions. The first weakness politically is??the idea that the winning candidates of a state would win the entire electoral vote despite the margin in popular vote. This made the Northern party, Republicans, able to win the Presidency with just Northern electoral votes. Also, the Democratic Party had put in effect a requirement that forced a two thirds vote for the nomination of a candidate (Davidson, 2002). This requirement made it highly difficult to choose a true leader since it gave the South a veto over the party’s presidential nominee.
The tradition of republican thought added to the nations’ political weaknesses. Since the revolution, American citizens were often paranoid about the abuse of power and the limit of liberties by the government. This belief of governmental conspiracy often exaggerated the views toward the problems of each region. For example, Republicans used the saying that the “Slave Power” would abolish northern rights and beliefs (Davidson, 2002). On the other hand, the south would accuse the Black Republicans of conspiring to diminish southern equality of rights.
To make each side even harder to budge was the universal belief that each region was defending the United States from internal turmoil. Another weakness within the nation during this time was the concept that in 1828, John C. Calhoun stated that if a state believed that a federal law was unconstitutional, the state had the power to nullify this was (Golden, 2005). However, during the civil war, the federal government felt that it was the highest authority and the states had to follow this law. The economic, social, and political impacts of the conflict
The southern economy was in ruins after the war. The Republicans idea to restore the south’s economy was to provide subsidies, loans and temporary tax exemptions. The government helped to rebuild the railroad system in the south, but despite the assistance the South was lagging behind the North’s booming economy. Farmers had a hard time restoring their land because of the end of slavery. Many white farmers fell into poverty after the war. “The economic lives of planters, former slaves, and no slaveholding whites, were transformed after the Civil War. ” (America’s Reconstruction).
Southerners had to rely on a wage labor economy rather than a slave based economy. After the war, the North and South were still in opposition over the commitment to equality. Racial discrimination was spreading throughout the United States. After the blacks were given the power to vote, secret societies know as Klansmen were formed. The organizations were trying to restore power to the whites. African Americans began establishing their own churches and attended school. Some white Southerners rebelled by destroying these schools and killing white teachers.
Davidson et al (2002) stated, “Slavery had been a complex institution that welded black and white southerners together in intimate relationships. ” (Chap. 17, p. 46) After the war the whites sought psychological separation with the African Americans and kept their dealings to a minimum. Racism provoked resistance from the white southerners. It made northerners believe that they should write of Reconstruction and the welfare of the African Americans. Davidson et al (2002) stated, “While Congress might pass a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, it could not overturn at a stroke the social habits of two centuries. (Chap. 17, p. 60) The Civil War provided many changes in the American government. Between 1866 and 1869, Congress had enforced new laws that gave blacks’ civil and voting rights. In 1869 the Fifteenth Amendment was sent to the states for ratification. Davidson et al (2002) stated, “It forbade any state from denying the right to vote on grounds of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. ” (Chap. 17, p. 48) Corruption in the North and South left reformers more concerned with cleaning up the government, then protecting the rights of African Americans.
In 1875 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. Davidson et al (2002) stated, “This law prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations, transportation, places of amusement, and juries. ” (Chap. 17, p. 51) References: America’s Reconstruction. (2003) People and Politics After the Civil War. Retrieved on August 18, 2008 from http://www. digitalhistory. uh. edu/reconstruction/introduction. html Andrist, R. (1967). The American Heritage: History of the making of the nation 1783 ??? 1860. American Heritage Publishing Co. , Inc. Davidson, J. W. , Gienapp, W. , E. , Heyrman, C. , L. , Lytle, M. ,H. , & Stoff, M. , B. (2002). Nation of Nations (3rd ed. ). New York: McGraw Hill. Golden??Randy,??(2005). Causes of the Civil War. North Georgia History. Retrieved??August??21,??2008,??from??http://ngeorgia. com/history/why. htm l Ingraham, L. , (1968). Slavery in the United States. NY: Franklin Watts Inc. Yanochik. M. (1997). Essays on the economics of slavery. Ph. D. dissertation, Auburn University, Alabama. Retrieved August 21, 2008, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text database.