Civil War & Reconstruction, 1861–1877
In 1861, a historical time that America faced a great crisis. The southern and northern states of the nation had become divergent politically, economically, and socially. The southern states remained to be agricultural lands, whereas the states of the north had developed rampantly in industries and commercially. Of more essence to this uniqueness, the demon of slavery, African – American slavery, was growing, and of these vast differences, the two states were separating with time. The core reason for the separations was the ‘peculiar institution,’ the people from the north wanted to abolish and do away with slavery while the ones from the south supported slavery and even tried to expand it, making slavery to be the focal point of the crisis. This paper will highlight the consequences, history, and effects of the American civil war which lasted until 1865 and was disastrous by every standard [Ref:1]. [1: Richard O. Curry, ‘The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877: A Critical Overview of Recent Trends and Interpretations,’ Civil War History 20, no. 3 (1974): 215, doi:10.1353/cwh.1974.0089.]
The split in the fabric of the country led to a bitter war fuelled after the inauguration of President Lincoln by the southern states, which wanted to be declared the sovereign state of America. The civil war that led to the death of many combatants was havoc, and for one to understand it better, a look back at historical documents and pictures would highlight it. Despite the reparations, the war led to the rise of the new America build on the ashes of slavery and a struggle for a reconstruction era that was full of temporary and dramatic changes in the government [Ref:2]. [2: Curry, ‘ The Civil War and Reconstruction,230 ]
The physical destruction led to the anguish of the economic stability of the southern states and generally altered the lives of most, if not all, Americans. The war led to a historical loss of lives in the history of America. The 620,000 soldiers that perished during the fights outnumbered the general sum of ones who ever died in the American wars combined. The bitterness of the war, the pains, and the consequences of the war will forever stick to the hearts of the ones who survived it.
The ‘first modern war,’ which commonly is the civil war, was the first war to depict the full effects of the industrial revolution ever to occur on a battlefield. The presence of railway lines transported supplies and troops to war zones, and that made junctions of Atlanta, Petersburg, and Chattanooga to be principal objectives of the military. Moreover, the presence of telegraph lines was a centered channel for the communication link between the soldiers on the battlefields and their generals. The war occurred immediately after a rebellion in arms manufacturers had to revolt against the traditional musket, which was a famous deadly riffle of the time. Such developments changed the nature of the war, emphasizing the essence of heavy arms giving ones on the defensive –the southern armies- a massive advantage over the attacking forces. The presence of that rifle generated the dreadful causality statistics of battles of the civil wars, and historically no loss of lives had ever superseded that one in America.
The civil war started as a conservative fight for soldiers vs. soldiers. Still, with time, it became a war of the different communities against each other, with slavery as the foundation of the social order of the southern states as a target. In a particular contest like that, the morale of the civilians was an important aspect and would define the winning team on the battlefield, and the willingness of the people to fight became a significant consideration of the armies to take part in the military in the battlefield. To date, research upon whether the Union’s victory was inevitable is still debated by historians and the overshadowing of the confederacy in economic and human resources extended the fight to Western Europe. Hence, the leadership was fundamental to victory, and President Lincoln approved the success of the confederate colleague, Jefferson Davis, in unifying the public, making one of the historians suggest that if the two states had exchanged their leaders, the southern state would have won the battle [Ref:3]. [3: Eric Foner, ‘The Causes of the American Civil War: Recent Interpretations and New Directions,’ Civil War History 20, no. 3 (1974): 197, doi:10.1353/cwh.1974.0073.]
The civil war created the current state in America, and by that, it overwhelmingly changed the relationship of the federal government to the economy of America. To marshal the economic resources of the northern states, the administration of President Lincoln initialized the first national currency, the first banking system, highly protective tariffs, and the first taxes paid on income. Even if the war encouraged or discouraged economic growth, the debates live freshly with historians, and the economic policies of the Union forged a mile pulling an alliance between the republican state and the developing class of industrial entrepreneurs. The move of transferring political power to Washington from the southern farmers to the allies of northern merchants and industrialists led to the political image that America at the end of the century had become the most significant economic power in the world.
The central to the meaning of the war was to abolish slavery. Slavery had laid to be the root that led to the civil war, and the fight became a struggle for liberation even though it did not begin with that aim. The victory of the Union exterminated slavery from the United States by letting the war lead to future generations celebrating several legacies and fighting for the unfinished thirst for racial justice. The obliteration of slavery was a vital element in the building process of the nation; it was achieved through legislation, constitutional amendment, and presidential proclamation. The old image of President Lincoln holding his majestic pen in his hand remained in the minds of many for the firm stand to fight slavery in the nation. Additionally, the soldiers, reformers, and politicians who stood with the president are also at heart, for they too fought in the coming of deliverance.
In 1862, upon the military victory, the radical abolitionists and republicans in the congress who took part in the fight against slavery had to set new policies of fighting the ill in togetherness with the president. In January 1863, the emancipation proclamation began, and it ensured a social revolution would be acquired in the southern states, and the sanity of the American people will be reaffirmed. The black people, too, would be part of the sovereign nation. By so doing, to achieve the targets, a new way of replacing the shattered slavery institution was adopted; the policy carried a new system of politics, race relations, and new labor policies [Ref:4]. [4: Foner “The Causes of the American Civil War: Recent Interpretations and New Directions,’ 95]
Before the malice of slavery and the civil war was dealt with, in 1857, the then Chief Justice had declared that no black person would be considered to be an American citizen and was placed not to enjoy the ‘liberty blessings.’ Since the war, the emergence of civil rights grew, and the unifying of the broken pieces of the country started following the reconstruction of the era of turbulence. With the victory, the status of the slaves became a core point of focus in the freedom aspect, including the right to vote and take part in the development of the country. Immediately when the war ended, the blacks who were enslaved in the southern states came in unison to demand their rights and to establish their ballots of freedom. Correspondingly, the radical republicans in the north, too, supported them and led to the building of a great nation.
Nonetheless, with the end of the civil war in 1875, a biracial government state in the southern states withdrew their last troops from the province, showing the end of the reconstruction and civil war. And by the turn of the century, soldiers from the south and north who were still fighting in the Spanish – American war, also put the bitterness behind them and became unified. By that, the southern states became democratic and enacted a new cultural order based on subjugation, economic disparity, and segregation. Since then, Historical accounts of reconstruction have been based to underlay a vital role in fighting the menace of the civil war and slavery in the south and north states and was termed later to be a tragedy that failed [Ref:5]. [5: H. L. Trefousse and John H. Franklin, ‘Reconstruction: After the Civil War,’ The American Historical Review 67, no. 3 (1962): 745, doi:10.2307/1844162.]
Overall, the era of reconstruction and civil war has led to many questions that stick to be significant to our understanding of our nation. The mysteries of the poise of power between the national and local government and the people entitled to the citizenship of America, and the precise definitions of equality and freedom in the United States of America. These questions live to be matters of controversy until today. In that logic, the Civil War is not thus far ended.
- Curry, Richard O. ‘The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877: A Critical Overview of Recent Trends and Interpretations.’ Civil War History 20, no. 3 (1974), 215-238. doi:10.1353/cwh.1974.0089.
- Foner, Eric. ‘The Causes of the American Civil War: Recent Interpretations and New Directions.’ Civil War History 20, no. 3 (1974), 197-214. doi:10.1353/cwh.1974.0073.
- Trefousse, H. L., and John H. Franklin. ‘Reconstruction: After the Civil War.’ The American Historical Review 67, no. 3 (1962), 745. doi:10.2307/1844162.