Was the civil war worth it? I believe that the civil war was worth it. Even though a lot of negative consequences came out of it, the positive changes outweighed the negative. To get a full understanding of why it was positive, one will have to understand what were the causes of war, changes resulting from war, and the consequences. The largest cause was the differences in thoughts about slavery.
The North and South had contained their differences over slavery for sixty years after the Constitutional Convention. Compromise in 1787 had resolved the questions of slave trade and how to count slaves for congressional representation. Although slavery threatened the uneasy sectional harmony in 1820, the Missouri compromise had established a workable balance of free and slave states and defined a geographic line (36*30) to determine future decisions.(361) Each apparent resolution, however, raised the level of emotional conflict between North and South and postponed ultimate settlement of the slavery question. (362) The Compromise of 1850 which admitted California as a free state, ending the balance of free to slave states. Territorial governments were organized in New Mexico and Utah, allowing the people to decide the question of slavery.
Slave trade was also abolished in the District of Columbia. The Compromise of 1850 was the last attempt to keep slavery out of politics, but the compromise only delayed more serious sectional conflict. (364)In 1854, Kansas held a vote as whether to allow slavery in the territory, twice as many ballots were cast as the number of registered voters, a few months later another vote was held to settle the debate. What resulted was two separate legislatures were formed. One, banning slavery, the other allowing it. Civil war looked imminent in the near future of Kansas, and eventually violence broke out.
In May of 1856 a mob smashed offices and presses of a Free-Soil newspaper and destroyed homes and shops. Three nights later John Brown and few of his men hacked five men to death, the same week Charles Sumner lashed out against pro slavery and in return was beaten by a cane two weeks later. The New York Tribune warned We are two peoples. We are a people for Freedom and a people of Slavery.
Between the two, conflict is inevitable. As the rhetoric and violence in Kansas demonstrated, competing visions of two separate cultures for the future destiny of the United States were at stake. Despite many similarities between North and South the gap between the two sides widened. (374) Each side saw the other threatening its freedom, as hostilities rose, the views each section had of the other grew steadily more rigid.(376)Five major reasonsTwo days after James Buchanans inauguration, the Supreme Court finally ruled in Dred Scott v.
Sandford. The decision was the blacks were beings of an inferior order who had no rights which white men were bound to respect , It also stated that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. (377)Lincolns election of 1860 was possibly the greatest sectional divider. The American nation, he said, was in a crisis and building toward a worse one. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free, Lincoln said he did not expect the Union to be dissolved or the house to fall but rather that it will become all one thing or all the other.
He believed in white superiority, opposed granting specific equal civil rights to free blacks and said that differences between whites and blacks would forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality, colonization was the best solution. He also believed that blacks were entitled to the natural rights in the Declaration of Independence, blacks were his equal.(378) These statements enraged differing ideas of slavery and the rights of blacks. John Brown, unlike Lincoln was prepared to act decisively against slavery. On October 16, 1859 he and a band of 22 men attacked a federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
He had hoped to provoke a general uprising of slaves throughout the upper South or at least provide arms for slaves to make their way to freedom. Federal troops overcame him and half his men died and he was captured and later hanged. Although he died he wasnt a failure. His daring raid and his dignified behavior during trial and a speedy execution unleashed powerful passions.
The North-South gap widened.(379)On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded, declaring the experiment of putting people with different pursuits and institutions under one government a failure. By February 1, the other six Deep South states also left the Union. A week later the Confederate States of America was created. On March 4 Lincoln reminded the nation that the only substantial dispute was that one section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended.
He said that he would make no attempt in interfering with slavery and put the burden of civil war on the South. He then closed his speech with the following as if he had foreseen the events that would follow: I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. It was as if Lincoln knew of what was in the near future.
On April 12, as Lincolns relief expedition neared Charleston, Beauregards batteries began shelling Fort Sumter, and the Civil War had began. (384)Ideas of the war were very miscalculated, many believed the war would last weeks and some even suggested that the blood that would be shed could be cleaned up with a handkerchief. The war was also a war of bring the Union back together. The thoughts and ideas of war and other changes in technologies and culture during the next four years were extraordinary. Lincoln called for 75,000 state militiamen for only 90 days of service, this supported the notion that the war would be short. (388) Many instances of poor treatment of the soldiers and inadequate nutrition and clothing often led to desertion.
An estimated one of every nine Confederate soldiers and one of every seven Union troopers deserted. Now that many soldiers were deserting or more likely being killed manpower was becoming very short and the problems critical. This war has already gone longer than anyone had every thought it would go and thousands had already died. Both governments resorted to the draft since manpower was low, ultimately, over 30 percent of the Confederate Army and 6 percent of the Union forces were draftees. These draft laws were very unpopular and in July 1863, the resentment boiled over in New York City in the largest civil disturbance of the nineteenth century.
A three-day riot erupted as an out of control mob, mainly Irishmen, burned draft records and the armory, plundered the houses of the rich and looted. Blacks, hated as economic competitors and the cause of the war, became special targets, eventually more than 100 people died.(399) What had been thought to be a quick and decisive war over unionization slowly began to take the shape of a long drawn out war over slavery where thousands would die.In the fall of 1862 Lincoln began a slow shift in the wars purpose linking emancipation with military necessity. In reply to his non-action on slavery Lincoln stated: If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I would do it by freeing some and leaving other alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps save this Union.
(400) Finally on January 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it was an act of justice warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity. What had started, as a war to save the Union now also became a struggle that if victorious would free the slaves. (401)The unorganized battles turned in to organized battles then turned into campaigns of annihilation. The idea of cutting the enemy off from needed supplies was implicit in the naval blockade. Economic or total warfare was a relatively new and shocking idea.
Sherman refined this idea by consuming everything that could be used to support or supply armies leaving desolation in their wake.(404) On April 9, 1865 Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the war was finally over after four long years. Nearly 360,000 Union soldiers and 258,000 Confederate soldiers died during this battle that many had thought would be short and having little or no death.(412)Many wartime changes proved more permanent than Lincoln had imagined.
Wartime financial necessities helped revolutionize the countrys banking system. In 1863 and 1864, Congress passed banking acts that established a national currency issued by federally chartered banks and backed by government bonds. The country once again had a federal banking system. Northern farming became more mechanized, while many people were beginning to read newspapers and magazines with a new eagerness, and used mail often. (408) Now that the war was over many had to ask themselves, what had the war accomplished.
We certainly know death and destruction, and that the war had devastated the South, many great cities lay in ruins. But on the other hand the war had resolved the question of union and ended the debate over the relationship of the states to the federal government. The war had also resolved the issue of slavery that so long had plagued American life. (413) We will have to look at two different sides of the conclusion of war to really decide whether it was worth all that had resulted. These two sides are the issues of physically rebuilding the North and South, and the status of Africans-Americans.
President Johnson, in his second of two reconstruction proclamations, accepted the reconstructed government of North Carolina and laid down the steps by which other southern states to reestablish governments, which included ratifying the Thirteenth amendment. (420) Within eight months all the southern states were already admitted into the Union and reconstruction seemed to be over but was it and should it be over so soon. Unhappy with this Congressman Stevens of Pennsylvania and Senator Sumner of Massachusetts rejecting Johnson’s position that the South was already reconstructed, Congress exercised their power and refused the representatives from the South and set up a committee to investigate conditions in the South. Resulting from these investigations and rejection of Johnson’s positions, Congress sent the Fourteenth Amendment which gave African-Americans citizenship and equal protection of the law and the right to vote for males, for ratification, which they rejected. (421) In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment became part of the Constitution, finally giving the right to vote to the African-Americans. (424) The Republican governments created the South’s first public school systems. As in the North, these schools were largely segregated, but for the first time rich and poor, white and black alike had access to education.
One thing that the freedmen had was a strong desire for education. In October 1865, Ester Douglass found 120 dirty, half-naked, perfectly wild black children in her schoolroom in Georgia. Eight months later, she reported that they could read, sing hymns, and repeat Bible verses and had learned about right conduct which they tried to practice.
(428)(431) While the South’s reconstruction dealt more with laws dealing with blacks the northern reconstruction dealt on economic revolution. The Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads were meeting in Utah linking the Atlantic and the Pacific for the first time. The iron and steel manufacturing and western settlement of the mining, cattle and agricultural frontiers were surging.
(433)The status of blacks in America was a very heated debate after the Civil War. Slavery was ended, blacks received the right to vote, and were considered American citizens, but did their status change dramatically. Maybe not at first but eventually it did. While many white southerners braced to resist reconstruction and aimed to restore their old world, nearly four million former slaves were on their own and facing the challenges of freedom. Everything-and nothing-had changed. Legal marriages, legitimacy of children, access to land titles, and choosing of surnames were important moral things the blacks received. (418) With the white man trying to hold on to his old world, many black codes were passed limiting many of the activities blacks could do, putting restrictions on the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
The Freedmen’s Bureau was a small government agency whose main task was to promote African-Americans’ economic well being. The bureau had a Herculean task on its hands, many blacks broke contracts, ran away, engaged in work slowdowns, burned barns and otherwise resisted. The freedmen refused to work at any price and refused to sign contracts, basically they were still being treated as slaves and couldn’t get out of the vicious cycle.
(426) To go along with the unfair treatment of the Freedmen and slavery like lives, President Hayes would not enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, initiating a pattern of executive inaction not broken until the 1960’s.Many troops had not been trained in any type of battle techniques and during battles would generally attack in a mob type fashion, unorganized. Most of the bloodshed resulted from changing military technology. The range of rifles had increased from 100 yards to 500 yards.
While some troops had these newer rifles some did not and attacking infantry soldiers regularly faced a 500-yard dash into deadly fire.(392)History Essays