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American civil war remains to be the deadliest war ever fought in the history of the US. The civil war broke out in 1961 after the inauguration of the first Republican President Abraham Lincoln and was fought for four years. Scholars agree that the primary cause of the American Civil War was the controversy surrounding slavery in America (Acharya et al., 2016). Northern states had abolished slavery and embraced mechanization by the mid-19th century, while the Southern states continued with plantation agriculture that was based on slave labor and therefore was adamantly protective of the slavery institution. When Lincoln who the Southern States perceived to be part of the broader scheme by the Republican Party rose to power, the southern rebels attacked Fort Sumter Southern Carolina, and the nationalists who supported the Union did not hesitate to respond to the Confederate attack marking the onset of the civil war in 1961 (Robinson, 2013). The conflict grew, and by 1965 when the Leading Confederate commander Robert Lee opted to surrender to the Union's general Commander Ulysses Grant, the war had claimed over 620,000 American lives (Schultz, 2015). This paper, therefore, seeks to examine how American civil war helped form the modern world.
The 1860 American Presidential campaign was marred by the question of the legality of slavery in the US. The Southern States believed that the American law protected ownership of slavery since slaves were considered as the property that is owned by a master and therefore it should be upheld. However, the Northerners who had abolished slavery believed that it was unlawful to continue enslaving people of color (Acharya et al., 2016). The issue brought a massive rift in America raising tension between the North and the South both publicly and in the Congress. For instance, in 1856 Massachusetts Senator Charles Summer was clobbered close to death for the comments he had made condemning slavery activities in the South and criticizing Southern Congressmen for their protection of the institution.
Moreover, during the campaigns, significant southern leaders such as Virginia Governor Henry Wise had warned that should the majority of American electorates decide to elect a president that opposes slavery, making the Southern States to secede from the Union. The Republican candidate who was against slavery won the elections (Finsth, 2006). However, during his inauguration, President Lincoln stated that he was not willing to interfere with slave ownership in the South but would ensure that the institution does not spread to the other states where it did not exist. President Lincoln further appealed for the unity of the Union, urging the South and the North to cool the tension that had grown between the two regions.
Nonetheless, shortly after President Lincoln inauguration, some southern States declared that they had seceded and formed a confederate of the South. Both the incoming Republican President and the outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan resented the move. The two leaders stated that the step was not within the confines of the American constitution and was individualistic. The Confederate further faced a blow when the other eight states that had not abolished slavery opted not to secede from the Union. Moreover, the Confederate hoped that it would be recognized by the European powers that were dependent on its cotton plantation, but this as well did not materialize. Precisely, no foreign nation recognized the independence of the Confederate (Acharya et al., 2016).
Nevertheless, it rallied its officers and attacked Fort Sumter, which marked the genesis of the war. By 1963, the war had protracted, and President Lincoln who had continued to be lenient decided to issue Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in the whole America. Consequently, the Presidential proclamation turned the nature of the war, making abolishment of slavery a primary goal of the war. Confederate troops would then the outnumbered and outwitted leading to subsequent surrender from the rebel, and in 1965 the surrender of Robert marked the end of military action.
Consequences of the War and the modern world
American civil war also led to the relaxation of racial discrimination in the US. For instance, black Americans were admitted to the Union's forces for the first time in the summer of 1962 however in an unofficial capacity. African American soldiers' inclusion in the Union's army was only confirmed after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1963 (Carroll, 2015). Consequently, despite the blacks being officially recruited into the Union's troops, the black soldiers still earned less than what their white counterparts received. Pressure built upon the President during the war to increase the black soldiers' income to equal that of the white soldiers since the financial difference was proving to be costly in the fight due to disunity between the soldiers. Consequently, the salaries of Afro-American fighters were equaled to that of the white soldiers in 1964 thus removing the racial barrier that had hindered the army.
Furthermore, despite having resided in America for as long as the history of slavery in the continent, Afro-Americans were prohibited by the American constitution from taking part in electoral processes until civil war broke. The Southern States, for instance, had used literacy test and poll tax to bar African Americans from participating in state elections. However, the Fifteenth Amendment of 1865 that target to dispel some aspects of racial discrimination granted black American men the right to participate in state elections. However, the fifteenth amendment overlooked women by giving voting rights only to men, proving that American society still undermined women even after the civil war (Arjona, 2015). Women would continue to struggle for their voting rights up to the early 20th century. Precisely, although women were assumed in the Fifteenth Amendment, granting voting rights to Afro-Americans was a massive step towards uniting American races.
Similarly, the American civil war was a significant boost for American industrial workers. Industrialization had impressively established itself in the North and was somehow on the rise in the South though struggling with the negative approach from the Southerners who inclined their economic structure on plantation agriculture anchored on slavery (Arjona, 2015). Workers had for a long time faced the wrath of capitalists who sought to excessively exploiting the proletariats thanks to the legality of slavery. Employees were never valued by the capitalists who dominated the means and forces of production believed they could comfortably replace employees who were unsatisfied with slaves. However, the Emancipation proclamation swayed the demand for labor in favor of workers who could then authoritatively demand improved working conditions and wages from industrial workers. Former slaves equally got the opportunity to bargain for their employment something unusual in the South.
American Civil war led to massive loss of lives in the country, with statistics indicating that the war claimed over 620,000 American lives resulting in depopulation (Schultz, 2015). The conflict increased suffering in the South as economic activities were significantly affected. Famine cut across the southern societies as agricultural production rapidly declined with the declaration of freedom to slaves who were crucial in labor provision in the sector. The American civil war led to the rise of terror groups in the Southern States that continued to commit atrocities on persons in the South. For instance, the rise of Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist's group that adamantly opposed the abolishment of slavery in the South. The Ku Klux Klan was determined to enforce the belief that the white race was supreme to all other races in the South thus they opted to instill fear on Afro-Americans in the South through the use of violence. Either, the Ku Klux Klan went on a rampage destroying properties and burning homes belonging to African Americans and any other sympathizer to the Negro race. These activities resulted in increased poverty among the minority race due to the prejudice mounted on them by supremacist movements. Besides, militia groups such as Ku Klux Klan only rose after the abolishment of slavery in the South, an aspect that they bitterly resented.
Moreover, Ku Klux Klan was so scared by the freedom of the Negros granted by the Emancipation Proclamation introduced lynching activities in the South. The widespread lynching activities in the South primarily targeted black Americans. Lynching, however, was extended to the whites who showed support for other races Lynching retarded economic growth in the South due to racial profiling that discriminated African-Americans from owning properties in the southern towns due to the prevalent robbery of the minority races properties (Gordon, 2017).
Consequently, the adverse attitude of the Southern societies towards the African Americans led to the mass migration of Afro-Americans from the Southern States to the Northern regions. The population resettlement adversely affected businesses in the South that depended on Afro-American labor for their production. Besides, African Americans who opted to stay put in Southern towns like Memphis that was marred by lynching resorted to continuous protests and boycotts of duty thus reducing the productivity of the Southern States.
Concisely, the American civil war continues to be remembered as the most significant landmark in American history due to the revolutionary results it had on American society and the modern world. The fight was primarily caused by the controversy of slavery in America that pitted the North and the South on different sides. Nevertheless, American Civil war led to some real improvements in the US, which included improvements, aimed at nullifying racial discrimination and advocating for improved workers' rights globally. Consequently, the war equally presented new challenges to the American society such as the emergence of Ku Klux Klan that promoted terror against the minority. Briefly, the war played a significant role in dispelling the prejudice of slavery that had tormented the world for many years.
Acharya et al., (2016). The political legacy of American slavery. The Journal of Politics, 78(3), 621-641.
Arjona, A. (2015). Civilian resistance to rebel governance. Rebel governance in civil war, 180-202.
Carroll, D. B. (2015). Henri Mercier and the American civil war. Princeton University Press.
Finseth, I. F. (2006). The American Civil War: an anthology of essential writings. Taylor & Francis.
Gordon, R. J. (2017). The rise and fall of American growth: The US standard of living since the civil war (Vol. 70). Princeton University Press.
Schultz, J. E. (May 01, 2015). Shauna Devine Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science. Social History of Medicine, 28, 2, 396-398.
Robinson, M. D. (2013). Fulcrum of the Union: The Border South and the Secession Crisis, 1859-1861.
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