Thursday, 22 August 2019

The American Civil War Essay Example for Free

The American Civil War Essay The American Civil War has also been called the War Between the States or the War of Rebellion or the War for Southern Independence. It was a clash between the United States of America or the Union and the Confederate States of America or the Confederacy. The Civil War was fought from 1861 to 1865. There were many reasons for the outbreak of this Civil War such as States’ rights and slavery. The principle cause for this War was purely economic. The Southern states had always tried to become independent because of the fact that the people and the state were becoming wealthier due to extensive use of slave labor. These states feared a drastic reduction in their wealth if slavery were to be abolished (Guisepi, 2002). Subsequent to the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States, the South became apprehensive as they felt that slavery would be abolished, accordingly they started the civil war. On the 12th of April, 1861 the Confederate army in Charleston, S. C. , started firing on Fort Sumter, which was held by the Union forces. This marked the commencement of hostilities between the North and the South. The prima facie objective of the South was to gain independence and that of the North was to preserve the integrity of the Union. In the year 1862, Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation and this constituted a major cause for the war. If the North emerged victorious then slavery would be abolished and if the South had won the war then slavery would have been protected in all the Confederate states (Guisepi, 2002). Economic disparities had been on the increase during the early nineteenth century. More than fifty seven per cent of cotton exports from the US had originated in the South and this was mainly due to the employment of slave labor. However, the North had acquired its wealth by establishing industries and as such the inhabitants of the North were opposed to slave labor. In order to cope with the demand for labor, the North encouraged immigration. Therefore, there were a large number of European immigrants who worked as laborers in industries and in the construction of railways in the North. The South was a laggard as far as industrialization was concerned and this forced them to import manufactured goods from the North. The southern states opposed the overwhelming taxes and tariffs on imported goods, which was the main source of revenue for the Federal government. The Federal government was unwilling to reduce the taxes since it had to support various welfare measures and provide infrastructure like roads. This led to a further disagreement between the North and the South (Gallagher, 2005 ). Initially, in the republic there were sectional differences between the regions, which were overlooked, owing to the fact that the vast distances rendered communication difficult if not impossible. The Northerners favored a central government in order to enable them to construct railroads, roads, and infrastructure, protect complex trade interests and thereby control the national currency. The Southerners, on the other hand, were not in favor of forming a central government since their dependence on the Federal government was much lesser. They also believed that a central government would prevent them from practicing slavery. The US Constitution prohibits the federal government from interfering with slavery within the states. Opponents of slavery in the Northern states were limited to restricting the use of slaves and the spreading of slavery to other regions. This is borne out by the fact that in 1820, Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state whereas Maine was admitted as a free state to maintain the balance in the Senate (Gallagher, 2005 ). In 1857, the Supreme Court of the United States added fuel to fire of mounting tensions by its judgment in the case of Dred Scott. In that case Scott a Missouri slave sought freedom on the basis that his master had taken him to live in a free state. The Court opined that Negroes were not citizens of the United States and that accordingly Scott could not approach the Court as he had no rights to do so. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the US laws prohibiting slavery were unconstitutional. Subsequently, on the 16th of October 1859, John Brown a convict of the Pottawatomie massacre raided the Harpers Ferry, VA, in order to free the slaves and to encourage them to start a guerrilla war against the whites in the South. This incident shook the Southerners as they felt that it was the beginning of organized Northern efforts to abolish slavery (Guisepi, 2002). With the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the Union, the Southerners seriously contemplated secession from the Union and South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. Other Southern states quickly withdrew from the Union and these secessionists occupied many southern forts. The Artillery of the Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter and this marked the beginning of the war (Guisepi, 2002). The Civil War had the dubious distinction of resolving the issue of secession permanently as has been borne out by the fact that since 1861, there have been no attempts by the states of the Union to secede. Another major change wrought by the Civil War was the abolition of slavery, subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation announced by Lincoln. However, the Civil War was unable to make the blacks the equals of the whites and it was also unsuccessful in emotionally reuniting the North and the South, as had been hoped by Abraham Lincoln. References Gallagher, G. (2005 ). American Civil War. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006 [DVD] . Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation. Guisepi, R. (2002). American Civil War. Retrieved June 23, 2007, from http://history-world. org/american_civil_war. htm

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