What would America be like today if the civil war never happened? Would there still be slaves? Would there be two separate nations? Thankfully, Americans do not have to worry about those problems. The American Civil War did happen and it impacted a whole nation because of it. The Civil War brought about immense change, which was mainly good. Slavery got abolished, America became whole again, and new technological advances formed from the “new” nation. Negative effects also occurred, mainly being the amount of death that was caused by the war happening. The American Civil War is nicknamed the “Bloodiest War in American History. It is estimated that roughly 620,000 men were killed in the civil war.
To understand how the American civil war shaped America, you first have to know what the pre-civil war America was like. After the war of 1812, America saw a boom in many different things. Industrialization, voting, direct elections, and many more. Every part of America had something great invented. The southerners being agriculturally based, had the steel plow invented which helped with farming at faster rates (Antebellum). The North grew industrially producing more manufactured goods. An important new way to produce newspapers would grow to help Northern support. It allowed the North to produce and show what the South was like and gain support for the Northern cause. The Second Great Awakening was also happening in the antebellum period. It was a religious revival which happened in the North, mainly New York (Antebellum). It would later lead to the idea that slavery was a sin and the only way to atone for our sins was for emancipation of the slaves. The new west became connected to the eastern part of America by way of railroads and telegraphs. The economic boom in the antebellum period was astounding (Antebellum). America was finally becoming a nation which could be its own and survive on its own until complications arose.
The complications that led to the American Civil War were extensive. It took a lot of years for the American Civil War to develop. Many things happened years apart, but the same feeling by both sides of the nation were the same throughout. America had become split into two, the North and the South. Major differences in each sides economy was a factor leading to the civil war. The north were industrializing with many people living in big cities and working jobs. The south were dependent on agriculture (McPherson). Their agricultural economy depended on slave labor. When disagreements about slavery arose, the south, who were very dependent on slaves, became cautious of moves made by the evolving north. State’s rights also played a major part in the Civil War. States for a long time had argued over how much power should the government and the states’repsectivlet should have. The southern states felt that the growing power of the government was taking away from their state rights. The Compromise of 1850 could be seen as the catalyst for the American civil war (McPherson). It was talked and argued over the whole decade. As a result of all the land gained during the antebellum period, tensions had been rising between the northern and southern states over a common issue of slavery. The north wanted to abolish slavery, but the south wanted to keep slavery. The Compromise of 1850 passed California as a free state, but every other state gained during the Mexican cession would be allow slavery (McPherson). The states gained were Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. Along with the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed which mandated that all slaves that escaped were to be returned to their masters. Both of these heightened Northerners fears that the young nation was becoming a nation of slavery. Again in 1854, another act was made dealing with slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska act served to allow the state citizens to vote and decide whether they would become slave or free states (McPherson). This act broke a long standing agreement known as the Missouri Compromise which set a longitude and latitude line as a border between slave and free states. Northerners became infuriated, further heighting the already heated spirits of the North concerning slavery. The north having majority population of the people at this time nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. The goal with the nomination was to abolish slavery. If the North could elect a person into the office, they would have the power to abolish slavery. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln got elected into office. With this event, South Carolina formally seceded from America and ten other states would follow creating the Confederate States of America. Abraham Lincoln said the Confederacy did not have the ability to leave and sent troops into the southern states thus starting the American Civil War.
The American Civil War started when the first shells were fired by the confederate states. On April 12, 1861, the confederate shot the first shells onto the Union held Fort Sumter. This battle, although the first, was a major battle for the confederacy. Four states, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee, seceded after Fort Sumter and joined the confederacy (Hassler). Border slave states (states between North and South) did not secede, but offered much sympathy to the confederacy. The south wanted to act as a sovereign nation and gain support from opposing nations across the world and fight the north. Abraham Lincoln stated that the south were not in fact a whole new nation, but states in rebellion (Hassler). The north was set to win the war the whole time. They had more factories, people, money, railroads, and transportation route, but the south had something more (Hassler). The south were fighting for something they desperately wanted. The culture they were fighting to keep had been what they had known for years. They believed they could pull off what America did against Great Britain in the Revolutionary War. The South believed they, as the underdogs, could beat the very powered and strong Union. Considered one of the most important battles in the civil war, the Battle of Gettysburg was a three day battle. The Confederacy had opportunities to finish the Union, but the South let the North build its defences. The Union had won the battle, but did not chase the Confederacy to finish them on that day. On that day, Abraham Lincoln made on of the most famous speeches ever. The Gettysburg Address inspired the Union to finish what the earlier and fallen soldiers had started and to keep fighting for what was right. Later came the emancipation proclamation. Abraham Lincoln enacted this to free slaves that were only in the Confederate states. This hurt the confederacy bad. Slave labor made up most labor in the Confederacy, especially during war times (Hassler). The slaves were working the small number of factories to manufacture as much goods for the South as they could. As we all know, the Union was successful and won the war on April 9, 1865.
America after the war was not an America that we could have foreseen. With abolishing slavery and many good things that came from the war, in the post-Civil war era many new problems arose. Southern states had to do many things to rejoin the union. After they joined, the president at the time, Andrew Johnson, gave the southern states leniency in rebuilding themselves. Many Southern states enacted black codes. While slavery was abolished, black codes provided ways for southerners to still prohibit blacks from having freedom. Blacks felt that they had claim to land in the South although the government never redistribute the land. Many blacks had to rent land on white farmers land and worked for very low wages. Eventually blacks gained prominent positions in government in the South and the country would start back becoming whole. Views on the American Civil War could be seen as something that needed to happen for our nation or something that did not need to happen and could have been avoided. No matter what we view, the civil war did happen, and there are many things America can be proud of that came from it.
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