The United States prides itself as the most influential nation in the globe. The country’s history is replete with challenges that have led to the current developments witnessed today. For instance, the country has experienced various wrangles within its states and fought wars in other nations. While such conflicts have been damaging to the country’s economy, the strategies it has adopted have been useful in enhancing its influence globally. The Civil War is a significant example that helped the country emerge stronger, especially on the economic spectrum. Causes of this conflict included slavery, the presidential election of 1860, and the economic disagreement between the northern and southern states. The following essay delves deeper into these causes and illuminates its role in helping the country rebuild.
Causes of the Civil War
Slavery stands out as the prime cause of the Civil War. Initially, slavery was a common practice in both the North and South. By the year 1804, the Northern states, which were experiencing rapid industrialization, had started to harbor abolitionist sentiments. This position contradicted that of the Southern states where the invention of the cotton gin in 1793 had led to the increased need for slaves to match the output (McPherson, 2019). The difference led to an intense tension between these regions where the North advocated for a free America while the South considered slave labor central to its agriculture-oriented economy. The situation worsened in 1854 when Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The regulation opened new territories to slavery, leading to an intense struggle between the pro and anti-slavery states. Resultantly, the Northern states re-grouped to form the Republican Party that opposed the extension of slavery to the Western regions. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was the final event that cemented the enmity between the two regions. The Southern states had warned that if he won the election, they would secede or leave the union. Such was confirmed in three months where seven out of southern states, including Florida and Texas, seceded from the union.
The separation between the Union and the Confederates led to various battles. Although the Union was willing to negotiate with the Confederates, the latter found no need for diplomacy as their interests were unconsidered. On March 5, 1861, the Fort Sumter Charlestown Harbor, in South Carolina required supplies (Hassler & Weber, 2019). However, the Confederates wanted it to be evacuated as they thought it as an intrusion to their space. On 12 April, the Confederates sent soldiers to evacuate the camp. Although the Fort did not have enough supplies of food and weaponry, the soldiers defended themselves and only retreated North after 30 hours of struggle. Although the opposition did not result in any injuries or deaths, this event was one of the triggers of the Civil War. The War would be characterized by drawn-out battles in which thousands of soldiers died and others sustained injuries. A significant example is the Battle of Gettysburg that further widened the rift between the North and the South. In the year 1865, congress passed the 13th Amendment that outlawed slavery. The victory of the Union in the aforementioned battles spurred it to spearhead a campaign for the liberation of blacks across America. The U.S government had no other option than to reconstruct the entire nation. However, there were challenges experienced such as passing legislation laws that would give full citizenship to the freed slaves.
Outcomes of the War
According to Warshauer (2011), the Civil War had several implications on both the Northern and the Southern states. However, the latter experienced more changes than the former. Notably, formers slaves were now free citizens. However, their former masters could not come into terms with the newly gained freedom and tried to retain the older order. The definite meaning of freedom became a significant point of conflict during the reconstruction of the South. The former slaves, for instance, relished the opportunity to flaunt their liberation from the ugly order of slavery. They sought to reunite their families, establish social institutions such as churches and schools, and achieve economic autonomy. Such would later lead to the demand for equal civil and political rights. With time, the slaves got the freedom and privileges they had always wanted. However, they faced significant opposition such as discrimination especially from the Southerners who had not come into terms with the abolition of slavery. A significant example is an eruption of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866 after a conflict between free slaves and their former masters. Community institutions such as churches and schools established to mark the newly gained freedom became target points for violence. The violence meted out by this supremacist group severed any chance of harmony between the two races.
The situation was very different in the Northern States. The end of the Civil War marked the beginning of the region’s industrial revolution. Its economy was favored by the war in various ways. For instance, there were new markets for the products used by the Union Army, and the industries had to work overtime to meet the demands. The increased sales led to higher profits that were diverted to the reconstruction effort (Davis, 2019). High demand coincided with the innovation of technologies that helped increase the output and efficiency of industries. For example, the Cyrus Fields of Massachusetts established the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Further, Alexander Bell developed the telephone, and Sholes introduced the typewriter. These inventions were timely and helped create countrywide markets for various products. They would also form the backbone for technological growth and development witnessed in the US today. During the war, the need for weapons boosted steel production through mining. Such formed the basis for the reconstruction of the Northern industry.
I believe that the Civil War was inevitable. It served as a transition event that brought various changes in America. Although it is difficult to hide its ugliness, the benefits are also noteworthy, especially to the freed slaves. The status of these people changed from being slaves to becoming free citizens of the United States. In addition, they were active agents in the reconstruction, building social amenities such as churches and schools. For the first time, slaves had stable families. Later, their social status improved dramatically after the passing of various equality legislation (Ford, 2004). In my view, the election of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, played a significant role in ending slavery in America. His ideas led to the reforms in the 14th and the 15th Amendments in 1868 and 1879 by Congress. These sections seemed to encourage slavery as they gave total power to slave owners. They reduced the slaves to objects and properties to be owned by their masters. Resultantly, the slave owners could order and carry their slaves and trade them if they found a reason to do so. The modification of this section of the constitution was a huge step to push the Southerners to end discrimination. Further, Lincoln had been the leader of the Union, a position that gave him power to fight for equal rights and introduce moral values in society. He led by example, demonstrating that every person deserves to be free. One of his significant quotes that cemented his legacy is, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master”. Such expressed his idea of democracy to make all people equal despite their color or social status (Hassler & Weber, 2019).
Overall slavery was the major cause of the Civil War. Specifically, it exposed the ideological differences between the Southern and the Northern States leading to conflict. While the Northern States though it right to have people exist in freedom, the opposing region saw slavery as an opportunity to thrive economically. It was a source of labor to increase productivity in their agricultural farms. The election of Abraham Lincoln served a great purpose to end both slavery and the Civil War. The president remains the father of freedom who ended slavery in the United States.
Davis, J. A. (2019). The arts and culture of the American Civil War. Routledge.
Ford, C. T. (2004). The American Civil War: An overview. Enslow Publishers.
Hassler, W. W., & Weber, J. L. (2019). American Civil War.
McPherson, J. (2019). A brief overview of the American Civil War. American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/brief-overview-american-civil-war
Warshauer, M. (2011). Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, sacrifice, and survival. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.
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