I believe that the civil war was worth it. Even though a lot of negative consequences came out of it, the positive outweighed the negative. The largest cause of the war was 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. The Compromise of 1850 was the last attempt to keep slavery out of politics, but the compromise only delayed more serious conflict. Lincoln’s 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. These statements enraged differing ideas of slavery and the rights of blacks. John Brown, unlike Lincoln was prepared to act decisively against slavery. In October 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.
His daring raid and his dignified behavior during trial and a speedy execution unleashed powerful passions. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded. 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 ivil war on the South. On April 12, as Lincoln’s relief expedition neared Charleston, Beauregard’s batteries began shelling Fort Sumter, and the Civil War had begun. 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 to 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 theory that the war would be short.
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. 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.
Many wartime changes proved more permanent than Lincoln had imagined. Wartime financial necessities helped revolutionize the country’s 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. 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. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment became part of the Constitution, finally giving the right to vote to the African-Americans. 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. 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.
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 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. Legal marriages, legitimacy of children, access to land titles, and choosing of surnames were important moral things the blacks received.
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. The Civil War was certainly worth it because, without the war, none of this would have been possible. We may have lost hundreds of thousands of men, but we gained a foundation for a more industrialized and more educated nation. African Americans now had a place in society other than as slaves. They became well educated which increased industrialization all across the US.