American history: The Civil War (1861-1865)

Introduction

American history is considered as the most inquisitive worldwide. Traditionally, American history started by a declaration of independence in the year 1776. This declaration was due to threats of British government towards American self-governed system. Declaration of independence led to war in 1775 that was to liberate Americans.

With help of France in providing military and financial support, the patriots won American Revolution. In 1789, war hero George Washington became the first president of federal government by virtue of constitution. With influence of European community, coping with scope of central government proved to be a challenging issue for American people.

In 1790s, creation of political parties was initiated and later fighting for the second independence in 1812. Consequently, this brought about expansion of US territory westwards. With this, the US managed to overcome modernizers who were solely interested in deepening its economy rather than helping American people in expanding their geography.

Heavy demand for cotton in southern states encouraged slavery of Africans even though it was illegal in northern states. In 1860, came the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and this triggered a crisis in slave states as he dejected the expansion of slave trade. Amongst the slave states, some of them seceded in forming the Confederate States of America in 1861. This brought about American Civil War, which was from 1861 to 1865.[1]

The Civil War

In the American history, Civil War is the most momentous event that ever happened in the US. This iconic event redefined the American nation, as it was a fight that aimed at preserving the Union, which was the United States of America. From inauguration of the Constitution, differing opinions existed on the role of federal government.

It was a belief of Federalists that in order to ensure the union does not collapse, there was need for the federal government to hold on to power. Anti-federalists on the other hand, were of the opinion that sovereignty of the new states were to remain within their countries. Anti-federalists believed that each state had the right to determine their own set of laws and it is not right to indict them in following mandates of the federal government.[2]

Northern Versus Southern Interests

With the advent of the slavery, Northern states completely squared off against Southern states. The main reason for this being economic interests of north and south which were opposed to each other. In addition, Southerners largely depended on large-scale plantations of cotton, which was more labor intensive.

On the other hand, northerners were more of a manufacturing region who produced finished goods by making use of raw materials. Southern ingrained culture of the plantation era encouraged slavery because it gave them an inexpensive labor source. The compromise of each group was the fear that one could gain an unequal amount of power. For example, northerners feared that if more slave states existed, then they would garner an unequal power in the nation.[3]

Causes of the Civil War

Causes of the American Civil war, which claimed of over 618,000 casualties, are traceable back to early days in history of the US when tensions escalated. The main cause was difference in economic and social capabilities between the North and the South. The south mainly depended on cotton, which meant the urgent need for cheap labor most probably slaves, as they become one crop economy. On the other hand, northerners depended solely on industrial products.

This disparity, which existed between the two, was the major difference in their economies. The second cause was due to the infighting between those who favored states’ rights and those who favored federal rights. Emergence of these two camps that had differences in opinions ignited the war.

Third, the American Civil war was caused by in-fight between those who were proponents of slavery and those who were against slavery. Another cause of the American Civil war was the growth of the abolition movement. The fact that northerners were against slavery led to the increase of abolitionists who were against slaveholders. Lastly, when Abraham Lincoln was elected as president, it catalyzed the civil war, as southerners believed that he favored interests of the northerners because he was against slavery.[4]

Aftermath of the Civil War

Surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865 marked an end to the confederacy era. However, this did not stop the war completely as some small battles continued to occur. This was later to end when the last general, Stand Watie, surrendered on June 23, 1865.

Abraham Lincoln’s vision of reconstructing the nation did not bear much fruit as it failed to become a reality because of his assassination on April 14, 1865. The Radical Republicans imposed military rule on the southerners dealing with them harshly until Rutherford B. Hayes ended it in 1876. In the American history, Civil War is a watershed event and most importantly an event that officially ended slavery.[5]

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Civil War was an important event in history of the American people. Moreover, its iconic stature is very vital, as the proponents who were against slavery became victors because their wish of anti-slavery was satisfied. In addition, it helped in liberating the people who had different opinions and gave them reasons to live for better ideals.[6]

Bibliography

Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010.

Kelly Martin. “Overview of the American Civil War-Secession.” About.com. Accessed November 27, 2011. http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/civiloverview.htm.

Kelly Martin. “Top Five Causes of the Civil War: Leading up to Secession and the Civil War.” About.com. Accessed November 27, 2011. http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war.htm.

The History Channel. “American Civil War.” History.com. Accessed November 27, 2011. http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war.

Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 74.
Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 74
The History Channel, “American Civil War,” History.com, Accessed November 27, 2011, http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war.
Martin Kelly, “Top Five Causes of the Civil War: Leading up to Secession and the Civil War,” About.com, Accessed November 27, 2011, http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war.htm.
Martin Kelly, “Overview of the American Civil War-Secession,” About.com, Accessed November 27, 2011, http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/civiloverview.htm.
Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 74.