Civil War (1861 -1865)

Course: The United States of America: History and Political System
Book: Civil War (1861 -1865)
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Date: Utorok, 27 september 2022, 11:16 AM



North and South

By the 1860, the North and the South had developed into two very different regions. The North was the main center of manufacturing, commerce and finance. Principal products of this area were textiles, clothing, machinery, leather, and wooden goods and shipping had reached the height of its prosperity. The South, resisting industrialization, manufactured little and that is why, almost all manufactured goods had to be imported. The South was agricultural area where the chief source of wealth was the cotton crop, rice, sugar and tobacco and also the area was dependant on the plantation system and its essential component, slavery.

Conflicting interests in north and south became apparent. The Northerners declared that slavery was wholly responsible for the relative backwardness of the South. For capitalism to develop freely and to expand rapidly it was necessary to abolish slavery and to break the influence of the Southern planters on politics. In some areas of the country, strong opposition to having slaves appeared. Rhode Island abolished slavery in 1774 and was soon followed by other states (Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey). The importation of slaves from other countries was banned soon as well. However, the selling of slaves within the southern states continued.

The conflict over slavery began to boil over with the territorial expansion of the United States westwards. The acquisition of new territories in 1845 converted the moral question of slavery into a burning political issue. The Northerners wanted all the new territories to be free, while the Southerners wanted to introduce slavery into them. From the middle 1840s, the issue of slavery overshadowed everything else in American politics. In 1852, H. B. Stowe wrote an antislavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabine. It was a sentimental but powerful novel, which converted many readers to the abolitionist cause. Politically, the 1850s can be characterized as a decade of failure in which the nation's leaders were unable to resolve the divisive issue of slavery.

In 1854, a new political party, the Republican Party was founded by the Northern capitalists and Abraham Lincoln was a party candidate in the presidential elections of 1860. He demanded a halt to the spread of slavery. He was willing to tolerate slavery in the Southern states were it already existed, but it was not to spread into any new territory. The Southern slaveholders, who fought for an extension of slavery, strongly opposed this policy. The majority in every Southern state voted against him, but the North supported him and he won the election. This fact was viewed by the South as a threat to slavery and ignited the war.

Civil War

In the three months that followed the elections of Abraham Lincoln, seven states seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Representatives from these states quickly established a new political organization - the Confederate States of America and Jefferson Davis was elected the president.

The Southern states seized and occupied most of the federal forts within their borders or off their shores. Only four remained in the hands of the Union. Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor was the most important. In April 1861, general Pierre T. Beauregard (South) demanded major Robert Anderson to surrender the fort, which was garrisoned by federal troops. When he refused to comply with this demand, the Southern rebels opened the fire on Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. After 34 hours of bombardment, the fort was severely damaged and Anderson was forced to surrender.

The people of each section entered the war with high hopes for an early victory. The Union was stronger not only in population, but also in industrial resources. The 23 states of the North had about 22 million people, while 11 states of the South had only a little more than 9 million people, including nearly 4 million black slaves. The North had a tremendous advantage in industrial development, making almost all of its war supplies, while the South had to depend on foreign imports. Similarly, the network of railways in the north contributed to federal military prospects. On the other hand, the Confederates had the advantage of fighting on their home territory, and their morale was excellent. They also had superb soldiers and generals, but the Union forces greatly outnumbered them.

In spite of all advantages, the North was not very successful at first. The generals of the Confederacy were much more able than those of the Union. The unity of purpose made the South very strong enemy and the Confederates won some victories in the early part of the war. A military turning point of the war came in 1863, when Southern general Robert E. Lee marched north into Pennsylvania, and at Gettysburg he met the Union army. The largest battle ever fought on American soil ensued. After three days, the Confederates were defeated.

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln at last found a capable general Ulysses S. Grant and made him a commander of all the Union forces. Although there was no doubt about the victory of the North, the South fought on till complete exhaustion. Richmond, the capital of the Southern Confederacy was captured on April 1, 1865. Finally, on April 9 the end of the war came, when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House. Five days later, on April 14, Lincoln was assassinated by the actor John Wilkes Booth. After this conflict the South was devastated and subjected to military occupation. The Civil War was the most traumatic episode in American history. It has been estimated that 120,000 men were killed in action during the conflict, and further 64,000 died of their wounds. More than 186,000 died of a variety of different illnesses. Even today, the scars have not entirely healed. In general however, it can be said that the war resolved two fundamental questions that had divided the United States since 1776. It put an end to slavery, which was completely abolished in 1865 by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, and it also decided that America was not a collection of states, but a single indivisible nation.

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Abolition of Slavery (1865)



Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Source: flash=true&doc=40&page=transcript