The Union North had superior political, social, and economic factors that contributed to its victory against the Confederate South during the American Civil War. The industrial revolution began in America in 1850. The North adapted to become a more industrial and urban economy while the South was more hesitant towards technological improvement and remained an agricultural economy. The North invested in technology which allowed the production and transportation of goods to become more efficient. The South, because of their agricultural economy, continued purchasing slaves for their workforce. Due to the lack of investment, transportation was very difficult in the South which would greatly affect them in the future. In Congress, the Whig and Democratic parties dominated politics with each party having different philosophies. However, together they passed the Fugitive Slave Law which required citizens in free soil states to return runaway slaves to their owners. The act was popular among Southern slave owners while enraged Northern abolitionists.
The hostilities between abolitionists and slave supporters would greatly increase after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which allowed the Kansas territories to vote whether or not to allow slavery, this was called popular sovereignty. This act was very unpopular among abolitionists and Whig politicians most notably a young man named Abraham Lincoln. He hated slavery and thought slaves should be sent back to Africa, but had no economically feasible plan to do it.
The consequences of the act lead to the collapse of the Whig Party, former members created the Republican Party. The Bleeding Kansas event which came at a great social, which resulted in increased tensions between the North and South and economic cost; the United States had to pay damages of $150,000. Lincoln would join the Republican Party and run for President in 1860. Because of his views on slavery, Lincoln was very unpopular in the South to the point where his name did not even appear on voting ballots. The South supported John Breckinridge, who would later join the Confederate army, however, Lincoln won the Electoral College vote.
Lincoln’s electoral victory lead to southern states seceding from the Union fearing Lincoln would abolish slavery. Fearing additional states would leave the Union, Congress proposed the Crittenden Compromise which would guarantee slavery would still exist in slave states and included a clause to prevent it from being repealed or amended. Southern Democrats favored the compromise, but it was disliked and opposed by Republicans. After the compromise was rejected, additional Southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy. The idea of forming a new nation was very popular among Southern citizens and many white men volunteered for the army.
However there was a major problem, the Confederate army lacked supplies to fully support their army so some volunteers had to be sent home while most of the Confederate soldiers wore their own clothes and used their own guns. After the attack on Fort Sumter, Lincoln called upon state governors for troops while Union General Winfield Scott proposed blockading Southern ports and forcing a submission on the Confederacy. His plan was criticized by Northern citizens who favored a more offensive approach. The blockade on Southern ports greatly affected the Confederate economy along with Great Britain and France who became sympathetic towards the Confederate rebellion.
As a result of the blockade, the Confederacy printed money to stay afloat. Due to the lack of food to feed both the civilian population and military, politicians decided the food should go towards the troops. Many of the early battles in the war were won by the Confederates because of their veteran generals such as Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. In 1862 to help pay for the war, the Union issued war bonds and passed the Revenue Act. The Union Congress also passed the Militia Act to allow African-Americans into the army to help replace fallen soldiers. Because of railroad technology, the Union was able to transport soldiers to the front lines more quickly than the Confederates who relied on roads.
The Battle of Antietam was one of the first major blows to the Confederates. The European nations that supported the South began to have doubts about the southern ability to win the war. The result of the battle allowed President Lincoln to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, an execute order that was meant to free slaves in the South, and in the newly controlled territories of the Union. This lead to the Confederacy passing the Twenty Slave Law which prevented slave owners who owned twenty slaves or more from being drafted into the army. The Confederacy passed this law to prevent slave revolts, however, many poor soldiers who did not own slaves deserted and/or revolted instead.
The beginning of the end for the Confederacy started with the Battle of Gettysburg. Prior to the battle, Lee’s scouts decided to raid Union villages so Lee never received vital intelligence, but he did learn that George Meade was put in charge of the Union army that he fought at Chancellorsville. Lee ordered his troops towards Gettysburg to take over their shoe factory while Meade ordered his troops towards the same location for its strategic importance. The battle was a crushing defeat for Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy. Gettysburg became a turning point in the war. The South would never be able to regain its strength to launch another invasion on the North and European nations withdrew all support for the Confederacy.
While Gettysburg was a victory for the Union, Lincoln was disappointed in Meade for being cautious and not pursuing Lee. The Confederacy was facing a horrible famine. Many civilians were not getting fed, so they starved to death and inflation for the Southern economy spiraled out of control. The Confederacy was running out of money, soldiers, and supplies. Robert E. Lee suggested using slaves as soldiers, but the idea was ridiculed by many Southern politicians. The Confederate Congress did eventually approve of using slaves as soldiers, however, they would never get a chance to see combat because Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Ulysses S. Grant.
In conclusion, based on the arguments presented, the Confederate South never had a chance in defeating the Union North. The Confederacy lacked the manpower, supplies, and technology to overpower their foe. The Union had a massive advantage over the Confederacy. Especially when it came to feeding both civilians and troops, and transporting soldiers to battle.
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