America

The American Civil War of 1861-65

Written by Sonniee Alli

The American Civil War of 1861-1865 also known as the War Between the States, as well as several other names, was a civil war in the USA. Eleven southern slaves states declared their succession from the USA and formed the confederate states of America simply called the Confederacy led by Jefferson Davis.

They fought against the USA which was supported by all free states and the free bother slave states. In the federal election the republican party led by Abraham Lincoln campaigned against the expansion of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed.

The Republican victory in that election resulted in southern states declaring their succession from the Union even before Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, both the outgoing and incoming US administrations rejected the legality of succession considering it a rebellion.

Hostilities Began

Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces first attacked the US military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state leading to the declaration of succession by more southern slave states.

Both sides raised armies as the Union assumed control of the Border States early in the war and established a naval blockade. In September 1862 Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation made envying slavery in the south a war to go and dissuaded the British from intervening.

American Civil War. Photo Cr: aaregistry.org

Sectional Disagreement over Slavery

The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars in human history. Railroads, steamships, mass-produced weapons and various military devices were employed extensively. The practice of total war developed by Sherman in Georgia and of French warfare around Petersburg foreshadowed World War I.

It remains the deadliest war in American history resulting in a debt of 620,000 soldiers and undetermined number of civilian casualties. 10% of all the Northern males who fall under 20 to 45 years of age died in the battle as did 30% of all southern white males aged 18-40 years.

Victory for the north means the end of the confederacy and of slavery in the United States and strengthened the role of the Federal Government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war declaratively shaped the construction era that lasted to 1877.

The co-existence of a slave-owning South with an increasing anti-slavery North made conflict likely not inevitable.

Abraham Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed but we had in his 1858 House Divided Speech expressed a desire to have rest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the cause of ultimate extinction.

Much of the political battles in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly merged territories that were likely to become free soil states which increased the sudden movement towards succession.

Both the North and South assume that if slavery could not expand it would die and wither. Southern fears are losing control of the federal government to anti-slavery forces and other resentments of the influence that slave power already wielded in governments. The crisis was brought to the end in the late 1850s.

Sectional disagreement over the morally of slavery, the scope of democracy and the economic merit of free labours versus slave plantation caused the Whig party and the Know-Nothing party to collapse and new ones to rise such as the Free Soil party of 1848 (a short-lived coalition political party in the United States active from 1848 to 1854, when it merged into the Republican Party.), the Republicans in 1854, the Constitutional Union in 1860.

The Ideas of Thomas Jefferson

In 1860 remaining national political party the Democratic Party shifted among sectional lines both North and South was influenced by the ideas of Thomas Jefferson.

Southerners used the state region ideas mentioned in Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution to prevent slave Northerners, ranging from the abolitionist, William Lloyd, Garrison to the moderate republican leader Abraham Lincoln, emphasize Jefferson’s declaration that all men are created equal.

Lincoln mentioned this proposition in his Gettysburg address almost all the interregional crisis involved slavery starting with debates on 3rd-5th cause and a 30-year extension of the African slave trade in the constitutional convention of 1787.

1793 Invention of the Cotton

In 1793, the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney increased by 50 fold the quantity of cotton that could be processed in a day and greatly increased the demand for slave labour in the south. There was controversy over adding the slave state of mission to the union that led to the mission.

Eli Whitney. cr: Biogrphy.com

Compromise of 1820, the nullification crisis over the tariff of 1828, although the tariff was low after 1846 and even the tariff issue was related to slavery, the Gog rule that prevented the discussion in the congress of petitions for ending slavery from 1835 to 1844, the acquisition of Texas as a slave state.

Manifesting Destiny

In 1845, manifesting destiny was an argument for gaining new territories where slavery would become an issue after the Mexican. American War of 1846-1848 resulted in the compromise of 1850. The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt by Northern politicians to exclude slavery from the territories conquered from Mexico

“The Wilmot Proviso, introduced by Democratic Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania on August 8, 1846 (just two months after the outbreak of war with Mexico), banned slavery anywhere in any territory that might be acquired from Mexico.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Book

Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852 by
Harriet Beecher Stowe from Goodreads

The extremely popular anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe greatly increased northern opposition to the fugitive Slave Law of 1850; violence over the status of slavery in Kansas erupted with the Wakarusa War, the sacking of Lawrence, the caning of Charles Summer by the Southern Preston Brooks.

Fugitive Slaves Attention. cr: HISTORY

“Passed on September 18, 1850 by Congress, The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was part of the Compromise of 1850. The act required that slaves be returned to their owners, even if they were in a free state. “

Among there are the Pottawatomic Massacre, the battle of Black Jack, the Battle of Osawatomie and the Marais des Cygnes Massacre. The 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scot decision allowed slavery in the territories even while the majority opposed slavery including Kansas.

The L. Douglas Debates of 1858

The Lincoln Douglas debates of 1858 included northern democratic leader, Steven A. Douglas free port doctrine. This doctrine was an argument for thwarting the dread court decision that along with Douglass defeat of the Lecompts constitution divided the Democratic Party between the northern south.

Others include sectionalism which was caused by the prosperity and growth of slavery in the cotton South while slavery was phased out of Northern states and steadily declined in the Border States that lacked cotton.

Historians have debated whether economic differences between the industrial north and the agricultural South causeed of the war. Most historians now disagreed with the economic determination of historian, Charles Austin Beard and argued that Northern and Southern economies were largely complementing.

Slavery and Religious Domination

There were the polarizing effects of slavery that slit the largest religious denominations namely Methodists, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches and controversy caused by the worst cruelties of slavery: sweeping, mutilations and families splitting apart.

In fact seven immigrants out of eight settled in the North from the movement of twice as many whites leaving the south for the North and vice versa contributed to the south defensive, aggressive political behaviour.

The Election of Lincoln in 1860

The election of Lincoln in 1860 was the final trigger for secession. Efforts had compromised including the failure of Corwin amendments and the Crittenden’s compromise. Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course towards extinction.

Abraham Lincoln

The slave states which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives were now facing a failure as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasing power full North.

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About the author

Sonniee Alli

Dr. Sunday Abraham OGUNODE (aka Sonniee Alli) is a lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies and currently the Sub-Dean, Faculty of Arts, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko. He preferred to be called a Teacher not a Lecturer in order to allow students' easy access and enhance their inclusive experiences while imparting knowledge in and out of classes. It is, therefore, not surprising that Sonniee Alli takes time out of his very busy schedules to write and make available detailed notes in all his courses to the students. Despite this, he attends all his classes and passionately explains issues using real-time illustration. His notes are available on the History Archives managed by his mentee Obaloluwa Tadese FAFORIJI, a 300level young but promising student of the Department. Enjoy as you explore the academic world of Sonniee Alli.

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