The American Civil War
The American civil war was fought from 1861 to 1865 and is believed to have consumed more lives than all other wars combined. The war was anticipated for over 40 years after the American Revolution due to conflicts between the North and south. There were many issues between the two sides, but slavery was the central issue. Another cause was taxation of goods imported from foreign countries. The taxes were called tariffs and the southerners felt oppressed since they imported more goods than the northerners. Goods exported from the south were heavily taxed, which was not applicable to goods of equal value exported from the north. These irregularities existed because the northern and Midwestern states had become very influential and their populations were increasing. Southern states were not very populated, which made them lose their power. This created sectionalism where the states were distinguished by differences in economy, culture, and values (Ford, 2004).
The issue of slavery formed the center stage in the conflict leading to the civil war. Slaves provided labor in the plantations and farms owned by the whites. The southerners had more acceptance of slavery since the colonial period than the northerners. People from the north felt that the institution of slavery was uncivilized and should be abolished. Slavery for the southern Americans was protected by both the federal and state laws. The first confrontation occurred in 1819 when Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave state. This upset the balance of power in the senate, which constituted of 11 Free states and 11 slave states. The admission of Missouri increased the number of slave states to twelve. In 1820, Senator Henry Clay proposed the Missouri Compromise that admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state to keep the balance of power (Glatthaar and Gallagher, 2001).
The fugitive slave law passed in 1850 required all Americans to return runaway slaves. In 1857, the Supreme Court failed to grant freedom to Scott Dred who was a slave. This ruling was controversial to the northern anti-slavery leaders. In 1859, John Brown was executed for his attempt to steal weapons from the federal armory. This incident proved that the southern interests were not well represented in the senate, and the southerners wanted to secede from the north. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860, who was a republican and anti-slavery activist was viewed as a blow against secession by southern democrats (Ford, 2004). However, South Carolina and six other states managed to secede in 1860 and early 1861 and formed the Confederate States of America. These states attacked Fort Sumter in 1861, which belonged to the Union and was supported by the North. Lincoln called upon 75,000 from 23 states loyal to the Union to quell the rebellion of the south. States loyal to the union and those in the south began raising volunteers to serve in the armies. This marked the beginning of the civil war between the north and south.
The war came to an end when three constitutional amendments were passed by congress. The 13th amendment of 1865 abolished the institution of slavery. The 14th amendment of 1868 granted citizenship to freed slaves and the 15th amendment of 1870 gave them the right to vote. The war had changed the political, social, and economic setup of America in less than 10 years. The ruling from the Scott case had concluded that African Americans could not attain partial or full citizenship whether free or slaves. This separated the country along racial lines since Africans were not entitled to constitutional rights enjoyed by the whites (Ford, 2004). The Blacks were considered inferior and could not interact with the whites either socially or politically. The 13th amendment aimed at forestalling the secession but was interfered with by the war and replaced in 1865 with the amendment that abolished slavery. The abolishment of slavery was not a goal of the government since Lincoln raised armies to preserve the Union and not to abolish slavery.
Abolishing slavery was eventually assimilated as an aim for the preservation of the union by 1863. The end of the civil war ended the institution of slavery and secession by the southern states. The Confederacy was founded by Alexander to fight for the rights of slaves. The institution of slavery was built on racism, and it was difficult for the confederacy to fight for their rights. Racism continued even in the Reconstruction Era between 1865 and 1877. This undermined the 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments. The rights of the African Americans eroded in the following decades, and they were marginalized and segregated politically and economically. The white supremacy in the south was still evident after the civil war. Three black Americans could be lynched every week in the south between 1890 and 1920. Black Americans had to pay taxes but were denied the constitutional rights enjoyed by the whites (Glatthaar and Gallagher, 2001).
The government had forgotten the rights of slaves in a rush to prevent the secession of the south. The southern philosophers considered slaves to be contented in slavery since they were committed and faithful to their masters. This made the southerners fight for the existence of the institution of slavery, but they were overwhelmed by the military strength of the Union. This ideology of slavery remained among the southerners as the country progressed to the industrial age and the Progressive Era. The south developed the Great Alibi since its defects became virtues of the war and their defeat turned victory long after the war had ended. The northern states considered themselves to be the savior of the nation by instilling morality to the southern states.
Slavery continued to dominate the disagreements between the north and the south in the 19th century. The southern states took long to reconstruct due to destruction by the north that was better armed and had bigger troops than the southern forces. The civil war erupted in 1861, but the differences between the two sides began with the Declaration of Independence. The declaration did not address the abolition of slavery effectively, and the African Americans were granted fewer rights than the whites. These rights were still debatable between the abolitionists and the southern masters. The war stopped in 1865, but its legacy still exists in the current society. The war granted freedom to the slaves, and it gave them constitutional rights even though they were fully entitled to these rights several decades after the war.
Ford, C. T. (2004). The American Civil War: An overview. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow
Glatthaar, J. T., & Gallagher, G. W. (2001). The American Civil War. Oxford: Osprey Military.