The united states have over the years been the strongest country in the world in almost every sphere that is science, politics, economics, and military. However, being at the zenith of it all does not been it has been smooth although but instead, there have been a lot of ups and downs along the way. One of the greatest dark moments of the history of the United States is during the American civil war in 1861 as the unity and ideologies of their country were put into test. Despite the dire effects of the war to the country, it was one of the defining moments in the history of the United States as the state defined what it stood for. In this paper, we shall discuss the major causes of the war, what happened during the war as well as the changes and effects that occurred due to the war (Reid, 2014).
Wars do not just happen; there must be a concrete reason. In our case, the American civil war that took place from 1861 to 1865. The war was dubbed the war between the states because it was between the northern industrialized states against the southern agricultural states. The war was due to three main reasons that are the war against slavery, conflicts that existed between the southern and northern states as well as the 1860 elections (Armitage, 2017). First and foremost, we shall discuss how slavery lead to the war as this is without a doubt the primary reason that sparked the American civil war. Slavery was a regular activity in North America for over 168, and the slaves were useful in working in industries and the agricultural plantations. However, in 1804 the northern states did away with slavery, and they encouraged the use of machines rather than slaves. The states of the north insisted that everyone should be equal and free. The American constitution permitted slavery as it allowed the fugitive slaves to be returned to their owners if they were found escaping. The 1791 bill of rights had nothing mentioned about slavery, but instead, it allowed the slaves to get deprived of liberty, life, and property without following the legal procedures. The fifth amendment granted the slaveholders to equate the slaves to their properties. The northern American had changed the status quo and were now against slavery and were pushing the southern Americans to abolish the slave trade too. However, the south of America was an agricultural hub that relied mostly on slavery for labor. In the 1850s the cotton gins were invented and applied widely in the southerner’s farms, and they required a lot of slave labor to run. Since the souths were pro-slavery while the norths were against the slavery the souths perceived the north to be the enemies both economically and politically. The two parties tried to solve the problem through several compromises but to no avail (Cook, 2014).
The other reason that led to the occurrence of the American civil war is the constant conflicts that were happening between the northerners and the southerners. All through the years, the two regions were not in good terms both politically and economically. In the Senate, the senators from the south usually opposed the northern senators.one of the difference was when Senator Stephen Douglas wanted to build a railway line to connect the west and the east. The railway line was to pass through Louisiana purchase which was unorganized region. The construction of the railroad meant that the area was to get organized by the government. The southerners were against the territorial organization of the Louisiana purchase because it would affect slavery. This problem led to the Nebraska-Kansas act which sparked a lot of fights in the Senate. For example, during the fighting called bleeding Kansas in 1856 that lead to the senators Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks a relative to a southern senator called Andrew Butler to fight to create a big scandal. The scandal worsened the conflict between the north and south. The other dispute between the north and south America was the admission of California as a free state. The southerners were against the admission of California as a free state because it would mean that slave trade would get abolished in Washington D.C and fugitive slaves would not get returned to the southern slave masters. The Whigs who were now Republicans were supporting the admission and were against slavery (Reid, 2014).
The last reason for the war is the 1860 election. The presidential election was between four candidates; Stephen Douglas, Breckinridge, Lincoln, and John Bell. At the end of the vote, the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the elections. His election led to secession because the southerners claimed the Republicans were hostile and had northern ideologies such as the abolishment of slavery (Cook, 2014).
After the election, ten states from the south seceded and joined South Carolina to form the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis from Mississippi got elected as president of the CSA. This incident was the beginning of the civil war. The northerners led by Lincoln formed the Union, and in 1861 the war began at Charlestown. This battle was called the battle of Fort Sumter. The fight continued for four years with numerous actions up until April 9th, 1865 when the CSA commander General Robert Lee agreed to meet with Union commander General Grant at the Appomattox Court House. Lee surrendered with honor thereby ending the Civil war. From the war over 1.2 million people die, lost homes and a lot of property was destroyed (Jaffa, 2018).
The American civil war has a lot of effects on the direction that the country took afterward. First and foremost, it resulted in the abolishment of slavery. This change came about through the 13th,14th and 15th amendments over the years but it all began with the 13th amendment that banned slavery in the United States. The slave trade was banned in not only the united states but also other countries, especially in the south American continent. Abraham Lincoln encouraged the other countries in the world to abolish slave trade altogether.
Furthermore, the war began the long walk to equality in the united states that is equality between all races and classes of people. The war brought the acknowledgment of equal opportunities for all people despite their race, religion or social classes. New opposition to this goal also came up such as the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan and racial discrimination mainly against the blacks causing a lot of conflicts against the schools, churches, and communities where the African-Americans lived. The war also resulted in respect of the rights and roles of women in society. Although this was not a one-day thing, it at least set the fire burning (Molloy, 2018).
Besides, the civil war made it clear that federal laws trumped all the states laws. In other words, the war reinforced the federal government’s power over the power of the states. For instance, the war made it clear that the states could not make laws that went against the federal constitution and that no state can withdraw from the union for disliking the federal actions (Armitage, 2017).
Besides, the civil war made the south to become economically diversified. After the war, the south had to get up, gather its remnants and start reconstructing itself. Mechanization and industrialization developed in the south. The north wasn’t adversely affected by the war however it continued developing itself economically (Jaffa, 2018).
Lastly, the war showed the Americans that war was not the solution, but instead, it has disastrous repercussions because a lot of people died and families were displaced. The Americans began understanding that there were better ways of solving their problems rather than fighting. However, despite the war causing a lot of catastrophic effects, many lessons were, and many positive results came out of it (Cook, 2014).
Armitage, D. (2017). Civil wars: a history in ideas. Connecticut: Yale University Press.
Cook, R. (2014). Civil War America: Making a Nation, 1848-1877. London: Routledge.
Jaffa, H. V. (2018). A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War (with New Foreword). Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
Molloy, M. S. (2018). Single, White, Slaveholding Women in the Nineteenth-century American South. South Carolina: Univ of South Carolina Press.
Reid, B. H. (2014). The Origins of the American Civil War. London: Routledge.