American Civil War History; What Really Started the Civil War
In American historical consciousness civil war is the central event. The revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States and the civil war determined what type of nation it would be. Civil war was a turning point in the history of America because it answered those questions that remained unanswered during the revolution. It answered two fundamental questions about the future of the United States. Whether the United States would be a confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slave holding country in the world. America was created on the notion of equality of all men, but after the independence SLAVERY was still there in America mainly in southern states. So it was a question mark on the very principle of American independence.
As Abraham Lincoln said: “The weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can’t be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle. I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it“Abraham Lincoln, speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 22 February 1861
While tracing the reasons of civil war one can argue that the issue of slavery was the main reason of the conflict. North and South were divided on this issue. North was against slavery and south was in the favor of practicing slavery because the economy of the northern states was based upon the free labor and industrialization while the economy of the southern states was based upon the agriculture and for the development of the economy they were dependent upon the slave based agriculture crops. Based on the issue of slavery there were many incidents like writing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Fugitive slave laws( requiring northern citizens and law makers to return slaves to their owners and it imposed $1000 fine and six month jail to those who refused to cooperate)and John Brown call for general slave rebellion further intensified the conflict between north and south and caused further divisions in already divided nations. There was division between north and south on many issues south demanded secession and formation of confederation but the northern states opposed these demands because these demands were against the idea of American republic and they were in favor of union. Division and hatred was on the height between confederates and union. As Phillip H. Sheridan said:
“If I owned Texas and Hell, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell.”Phillip H. Sheridan,union General in American civil war
American Civil War Summary and Civil War Battles
The division and hatred of north and south resulted in the battles of civil war. In 1861 first battle of Bull Run took place between north and south. In this battle union forces defeated. The loss shocked Northerners out of their complacency and prompted them to prepare more seriously for the struggle ahead. Meanwhile, many Southerners interpreted the victory as an indicator of an early end to the war and as decisive proof that most Northerners didn’t have the will to fight. In April 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant engaged Confederate forces at Shiloh, Tennessee, in an incredibly bloody battle. Tens of thousands of men died. By the end of the bloodbath, Grant had won and demonstrated to the Confederates that Lincoln was serious about maintaining the Union. In September 1862, Lee’s army (confederate army) met General George McClellan’s troops (union troops) at the Battle of Antietam. Lee was the commanding officer in confederate army and he was against the union Lee said:
“A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.”Robert E. Lee
The battle of Antietam resulted in more than 23,000 casualties—the bloodiest single day of battle of the entire war. Lee was forced to retreat back to Confederate territory. following the success of union’s army Lincoln issued emancipation proclamation, that freed all slaves in the Confederacy. The immediate practical effects of the proclamation were limited. The proclamation did have a large political impact, though, because it tied the issue of slavery to the restoration of the Union. Lincoln knew that a reunified nation would not survive long if slavery still existed. Slavery had been at the root of every major sectional conflict since the 1780s, and the issue had to be addressed. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation failed to ban slavery in the border states, it did mark the symbolic beginning of the end for the “peculiar institution” for every state in the Union. despite the failure at Antietam Lee marched into Northern territory again in the summer of 1863, there he met Union forces at the Battle of Gettysburg in early July. At the end of a bloody three-day struggle in which more than 50,000 died, Lee was once again forced to retreat. At the same At the same time Lee was losing in the North, Grant’s army surrounded the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the West. He forced Confederates for an unconditional surrender. This major victory at the Battle of Vicksburg gave the Union control of the Mississippi River and thus split the Confederacy in half. Lincoln announced the Union victory at Gettysburg several months after the battle.
Consequences of American Civil War
Civil war ended and it had several consequences. At first it resulted in the emancipation of 3.5 million slaves. Many of them were initially declared free by Abraham Lincoln in his January 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which was aimed only at slaves in areas then still in rebellion against the United States. Subsequently, in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment freed all slaves in the U.S. secondly civil war preserved the union and the United States remained as single and united republic. Civil war also resulted in an economic and human loss. The war saw the destruction and loss of life on a scale the country had never before imagined. Union war dead totaled 360,000 Confederate, 258,000. The combined total of 618,000.The economic expense of the war was of far less than the human cost. However, the Union spent some $2.3 billion on its war effort or about $98 per person in its population. The Confederacy, on the other hand, expended only $1 billion in its failed bid for independence, but that came to $111 per person for Southerners.
Keeping in view all the above facts, it can be concluded that civil war was an event of great importance for the people of America because it determined their future. The war was not only important for the future of America, but for the future of DEMOCRACY because When war broke out in 1861, many monarchs in Europe viewed USA on the brink of collapse. Democracy, they argued, was too volatile, too messy, and too fragile to be of any practical use. Lincoln himself recognized the historical significance of the war even before it was over. In his Gettysburg Address, he argued that the Civil War was a test of democracy and that the outcome of the war would determine the fate of representative government for the entire world.
In Lincoln’s words, “ we here highly resolve . . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”