Essay on American Civil War

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

The main issue that historians attribute to the civil war was the enslavement of black people in the USA (Reid, 12). The confederate states, who were from the south, advocated for the upholding of the laws that encouraged the enslavement of black people whereas the union states, from the north, were for the abolishment of slavery. Seven of the confederate states even went as far as calling for secession from the USA to form their own nation. The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865 (Reid, 2). However, the origins of the war date as far as 1820 during the Missouri compromise. When Abraham Lincoln was elected as the president of the USA in November 1860, despite not being on the ballot in ten of the southern states, seven states seceded.

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Abraham Lincoln supported anti-slavery movements and the south viewed this as an attack on their way of life. Lincoln refused to recognize the sovereignty of the seceded southern states. In 1861, the southern states attacked Fort Sumter and this was the catalyst for the official beginning of the war. Some of the key events that led to disunion of the USA include the Missouri compromise of 1820 as discussed earlier in the paper. The compromise inhibited the freedom of southerners gaining more slaves. The Wilmot Proviso was also decisive because it led to the compromise of 1850. In addition, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was very decisive and it escalated tensions for five years. The ruling of the Dred Scott v. Sanford case and the election of Abraham Lincoln, an anti-slavery advocate, were also very significant.

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Some of the black leaders during the civil rights movement used the emancipation proclamation as a guide in their journey towards total freedom. In 1865, the government established the Freedmen’s Bureau that offered help to African Americans who were emancipated. Having such a bureau to protect African Americans fueled their hope and provided incentive to free themselves of their yokes. In the same year, the congress ratified the 13th amendment to abolish slavery in the United States. For the first time in American history, the law made it illegal to engage in slavery. Also, the southern states chose to commit themselves to agriculture instead of industrialization. Hence, the reconstruction period had little influence in reshaping America because some of these vigilante groups like Ku Klax Klan (KKK) still operate in the USA.

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Towards the end of 1867, southern whites became violent in response to radical reconstruction. Groups like KKK fought for the supremacy of white people and they targeted anyone who opposed them (Trelease, 20). The federal government passed laws that targeted KKK and other such organizations. Companies made huge profits and the divide between the rich and the poor became even more visible. In addition, the period was gilded and not golden due to the rise of corruption among politicians and businesses. There was no one to fight for the rights of the common American citizen. Some technological and business innovations achieved during the gilded era include the invention of the air brake that increased the safety of brake systems. Consequently, rail transport became popular and was the preferred form of transporting people and goods over long distances.

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The gilded age brought the proliferation of a group of individuals christened “robber barons”. These individuals used whatever means necessary, whether unethical or illegal, to acquire wealth. They exploited workers and amassed a lot of wealth that allowed them to dominate most of the industries (Kolko, 65). The industries they created changed the way America conducted business but also spread the bad side of capitalism. Eventually, the population grew tired of societal inequalities and corruption and they decided they needed change. University Press of Kansas, 2016. Jenkins, Jeffrey A. , and Justin Peck. “Congress and Civil Rights: The Early Reconstruction Era, 1865-1871. Kolko, Gabriel. Trachtenberg, Alan. The incorporation of America: Culture and society in the gilded age. Macmillan, 2007. Trelease, Allen W. White terror: The Ku Klax Klan conspiracy and southern reconstruction.

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