The American Civil War Essay
The American Civil War started on April 12, 1861, at 4:30 am between the Northern States and the Southern territories that were separated from the Union and formed a new government known as the Confederacy. The begging of this war is marked by the bombardment of the Federal Fort in Charleston Harbor by the forces of South Carolina. The name “American Civil War” is controversial, since this war was not a class fight, but a sectional struggle that sprang from the economic, political, social, and psychological issues that occurred in the 19th century in the United States of America. In the South, the American Civil War is called the War of Rebellion. Undoubtedly, the American Civil War is a “War Between the States”, since eleven Southern States (from South Carolina to Tennessee) decided to separate from the Federal Union of the United States. The head of the Northern States was a newly elected president Abraham Lincoln. Jefferson Davis was the head of the Confederacy.
The main reasons of the Civil War are economic and social differences between the South and the North, slavery, states’ rights, abolitionist movement, election of Abraham Lincoln, and Southern Secession. The most burning problem was economic and social division of the South and the North. The case that preceded this division was invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney, in 1793. The new device significantly shortened the process of separation the seeds from the cotton and considerably changed the economic type of the South turning it into the plantation system. Slaves were the main force of conducting this system. The South was a territory where the debts or purchasing could be paid by slaves. To counterbalance it, the North moved to a new level, industrialization, where the general equality was the main right. Therefore, this economic and social difference between the South and the North was the first step of the Southern Secession. One more point for struggle between the South and the North was centered on the establishment of the States’ rights. During the Civil War period, the controversial question was whether the federal government had the right to abolish the slavery or not. The main aim of the Abolitionist Movement was to end slavery, racial discrimination, and segregation. The movement fueled the animosity between the South and the North in the period of the Civil War. Moreover, the election of Abraham Lincoln influenced the beginning of the War of Secession. Such a problematic situation can be amplified by the fact that the Southern territories thought that Lincoln supported only the North. Considerably, this vote of no confidence led to signing of the Declaration of Secession (Shaw n.pag.).
The American Civil War counted a lot people who played a significant role in leading of this war. For example, William Lloyd Garrison published his anti-slavery ideas in the newspaper The Liberator. Dred Scott, a famous African-American slave, was fighting for equality between the white and black people. Harriet Tubman is a famous African-American abolitionist who emancipated 300 slaves. Henry Clay, a senator from Kentucky, solved the issue over slavery by signing up the Missouri Compromise. Stephen Douglas, John Brown, Robert E. Lee, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Clara Barton, Theodore Weld, Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, and John Wilkes Booth were also involved in the American Civil War (Catton n.pag.).
The impact of the Civil War was tremendous. Talking about political sphere, no state could secede from the United States of America. The limited constitutional authority was changed with the government and its centralized power. As for the economic sphere, the Civil War helped to modernize the Southern States. The government built the new railroads, factories, and plants. According to Charles R. and Mary A. Beard, the Civil War is the Second American Revolution, a transformation of the American southern society from slavery into industrialization (Charles et al. 23). Additionally, the cultural sphere was significantly changed after the American Civil War. First of all, the collective consciousness was transformed. The crisis in faith is proved by the soldiers’ attitude towards God before and after the Civil War. Gerald Linderman mentioned that the American Civil War led to the rise of the fatalists (Linderman 54). People thought that the Civil War was the end of generation. This discouragement is clearly understandable, since Americans did not believe that God could save them, while there were many victims. Moreover, the Civil War developed a new aspect of realism, a masculine ethos, which led to a new, realistic, and masculine way of representation of the surrounding world.
It is necessary to mention the impact of the Civil War on other countries. England and France supported the North of America, since those countries were the monarchies and did not want that war to influence the separation of their power. In 1861, England and France helped the North in the naval operation. The US Captain Charles Wilkes cooperated with England in this struggle against the Confederacy.
All in all, the American Civil War is considered to be the costliest war in the American history, while 900 000 people died, and almost 1 000 000 were injured. The war cast doubt on the unity of the USA. The consequences of the Civil War were represented by the abolishment of the slavery in the South. Moreover, after the Civil War, the USA was not as a federation of states, but an indivisible monopolistic nation.
Catton, Bruce. Reflections on the Civil War. Garden City. N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981.
Charles, Richard. & Mary A. Beard. The Rise of American Civilization. 2 Vols., 1927.
Linderman, Gerald,. Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War. Simon and Schuster, 1989.
Shaw, Philip. A People’s Contest: The Union and Civil War. 1861–1865. University Press of Kansas, 1988.