The American Civil War
In 1860, arguably the world’s greatest nation was locked in Civil War. The
war divided the country between the North (Union) and South (Confederate).
The war lasted five years and by 1865 the Confederate forces were truly
beaten. Out of this horrendous war though, where some 600,000 men died grew
a greater sense of nationalism than is today, unrivalled around the world.
The American Civil War is interpreted differently by many historians but
most see the catalyst as slavery, the motivation as economic, the outcome
was a unified national identity.
Slavery was a major issue that triggered the American Civil War. Slavery
started out, as a few individual slaves coming from England that were
generally white. This changed however, and soon the Southern slave traders
began ‘stealing’ blacks to take back to the South. The slaves were forced
to work 16-hour days, slave women were only seen as breeders and there were
no laws against the rape of a female slave. In 1860 slaves accounted for
one third of the South’s population and even still they had no rights (see
appendix one). The Unionist North many people believed it was immoral to
own another human being. These people were called Abolitionists. The South
relied strongly on the slave trade and when the North spoke of abolishing
it, the South spoke of forming there own country, The Confederate states of
America. The South began to see that the North was going to take action
against the South’s inhumane slave policy. In early 1860, South Carolina
formed under a new flag, Confederate States of America flag, so that they
could continue to operate their slave trade. What followed was an ordinance
of succession which saw the other slave populated states also swear an oath
to the Confederate States of America, also so that they could continue
their slave trade. This situation was found to be unworkable and it divided
the country in two. So in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘A house divide
against itself can not stand. I believe this country can not endure
permanently half-slave, half-free.’ Slavery formed two opposing societies
and could not have been abolished with out the Civil War.
The North was very industrialised and had a stable economy in comparison
to slave-dependant South. During the mid-1800s immigration to the North
skyrocketed. Jones says, ‘the immigration (many escaping the Irish potato
famine) were willing to work for almost anything and withstand inhumane
factory conditions.’ Although this exploitation was extremely cruel and
much like the treatment of the slaves in the South, the Northern economy
profited immensely (Brinkley,1991:264). Come 1860, the Union had an
overwhelming advantage over the South. The North played host to 109,974
industrial firms whereas the South had only 18, 026. The Northern States
also produced 96%of the locomotives in the entire country, and as for
firearms, more of them were made in Connecticut than in all the Southern
factories combined (“Civil War”, Encyclopedia Americana:1988). The
Southerner’s believed cotton to be their biggest industry and economic
boosted during the Civil War but they had no factories capable of
processing the cotton. The cotton was sent to Northern factories to be
processed for a fraction of the price the Union sold it back to them for.
This cycle alone made a huge idiosyncrasy in the economies. So with all the
industrial and many economical advantages over the South was it any wonder
that the North were victorious in the Civil War?
The cost of the Civil was tremendous not only in money but in lives taken.
By 1865, the South surrendered, slavery was abolished and President Lincoln
was assassinated the total cost of the War for all American’s was around 15
billion dollars but priceless for the 600,000 lives lost. What came out of
this war however suprised everyone, in the next centaury America was seen
as the strongest nation in the world. The cause of the war was finally
resolved when slavery was abolished and because of this many inhumane slave
owners went bankrupt with out the slaves running the farms.
What followed the American can only be described as the birth of a Unified
National Identity. In this period of 5 years in which many people died many
of America’s major problem have been solved. Since the Civil war towns have
been rebuilt, mew industries flourish, and new schools have been erected.
Now in America both the North and South live prosperously and peacefully
together. Schenck describes America at the close of the war as, ‘A
developing industrial nation emerged from the Civil War and there was a
greater sense of nationalism.’ This same sense of nationalism has been
fostered and developed throughout the last 135 years to form arguably the
world’s greatest nation.