Civil War: a War that Shaped History

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The Civil War is a war that is taught about in every school throughout the United States of America, no matter if its the first grade or your senior year of college, youve heard about it every year in school since kindergarten in some form or another. The nation split into two parts. the Union also known as the North and the Confederate States of American, or just The South. It was a war that shaped history, the nation could look like a totally different place today if it wasnt for the norths eventually victory over the confederate south. Both sides believed that what they were fighting for was legitimate and fair, but if you look deeper the real reason for the Souths session is common from the beginning of the nation to the end of the Civil war.

The war began when the Confederates fired the first shot at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861 and went on until Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The south was clearly dependent on slavery as they were mainly in agriculture with harvesting crops such as cotton, tobacco and more, while Northern states, were more into manufacturing and used mainly paid labor instead of slavery.

In fact, most of the Northern states at the time didnt have any slavery at all leading up to the war. If you were to go back and ask a southern what they believe was the cause for the war, they would most likely say that they were not fighting for slavery at all but instead were fighting for states rights. They claimed that their rights were being taken away by the federal government with their voices being thrown aside, that it wasnt only the fact that, what they saw as their right to own slaves was being taken away but that the government really had no power to take them away. The point being that if you were to ask the different sides, the north would go on to say that the war was fought over slavery while the South would go on to say have it was over states rights and not slavery. So the question would be which one is correct when it comes to the south, was it slavery or states rights?

If you look at the events leading up to the war it is quite clear that the north and south were growing apart in ideas and culture for decades. The North was becoming more and more industrial and had more and more immigrants coming to American in search of the classic American Dream meaning there were labor hands in the north. While the South stayed true to its roots and focused on crops, crops that were harvested by slaves. When the United states began to push towards the west and the idea of free states came into question it threatened the south. Like with the Missouri Compromise of 1819, the south saw it as a threat to the balance of the free states and slave states. It was the first time that the south started to understand that the government could create laws dealing with slavery.

Same goes for the Northern states and the Fugitive slave act, which was part of the Compromise of 1850 which states that a federal officer must arrest a runaway slave or they may be subject to a fine which caused many members of the North to increase their efforts to end slavery. Another major event leading to the start of the war would be when Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which basically opened all the new territories as long as they could vote on whether to be a free state or a slave state. This lead to what historians call Bleeding Kansas when a series on confrontations happened between opposing forces of free and slave state members. The act led to the formation of the Republican Party, a new political party based on the idea of opposing of opposing slavery into the new west. The newly formed party would be what eventually president Lincoln would run as and would be the final nail for the south.

The Civil War started because of stubborn differences between the Union and South over the fact of, if national government had the power to stop slavery in the territories that America had gained from the Mexican war, Louisiana purchase and others. What capped it off finally for the south was when Abraham Lincoln ran and won the presidential election in 1860 while one of his promises during his campaign was to keep slavery out of the new territories. Once he was elected South Carolina succeeded from the union and on April 12, 1861 the war began.

The war shaped American today in a great number of ways. The largest would have to be the thirteenth amendment, which abolished slavery in the united states. It also laid ground for the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. However, thats not all it did for this great country. Even while the war was going on the Union was making moves to make the country better. Since there were no southern to block and bills, laws or acts, Congress was able to pass things such as the First Transcontinental Railroad or the "Pacific Railroad," which linked the Atlantic to the Pacific and was built between 1863 and 1869. This helped people travel more out towards the west with things like the Homestead Act in 1862, which stated that any male could own a hundred plus acres if they lived and improved it over 5 years. Last but not least The war brought us paper money, during 1862, the Union was gaining more and more expenses so they had no way to continue paying for the war. So they created greenbacks which is similar to the paper bills that we actually use today.

Simply put the war was fought by the South because of slavery, or their states right to slavery. If you look at the reasoning behind their methods, its because of slavery. Its important that the Union one because there is no slavery today when it comes to forced labor. Without the Civil war we might not even see one unified nation as we are today but rather one with slaves and one without. It laid the stone work for or modern day United States with huge acts put force by congress such as the fourteenth amendment that has become so important over time, especially in the 20th century with the Civil Rights movement and the due process clause. The Civil war tore us apart as a nation but once it was over, it opened us up to a whole new Union.

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Civil War: A War That Shaped History. (2019, May 08). Retrieved July 18, 2024 , from

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