THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
Were a tumultuous time for the United States of America. At
that time the south was typically slave and the northerners were traditionally
for freedom. The slave states of the south and the abolitionist
in the north were quarreling and the government recognizing that made efforts
to stop or delay the civil war. In 1819 Missouri wanted to enter the
Union a slave state. At this time the 22 states of the Union were
divided evenly 11 slave and 11 free. Northern states were afraid that
if Missouri entered as a slave state it would give the south a majority
in the senate. Southerners argued that since the north had a majority
in the House of Representatives that it was only fair that they had a majority
in the senate. Then in December 1819 three northern counties of Massachusetts
broke away and asked to be admitted to enter the Union as a free state(Maine).
This made the Missouri Compromise possible. The Missouri compromise
said that Missouri would be a slave state and Maine would be admitted
as a free state, it also said that any state in the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri's southern border would be a free state. This action delayed a deadly confrontation between the North and the South, at least for awhile.
Then in 1828 congress raised the tariff on imported goods. In the south they didn't have very much industry so they had to import most of their good, so the tariffs were unpopular their. One state that protested this action by congress. Since the North had more industry, the South felt that congress was protecting the North by raising these tariffs. South Carolina was the strongest protester of these tariffs. South Carolina supported John C. Calhoun who said that a state could nullify or veto a national law within it's own boundaries. In 1832 South Carolina's state legislature declared the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 null or void. They went even further by saying that if the government tried to make them pay the tariff they would break away from the union.
Then President Andrew Jackson, who had said that the union must be preserved, stated that he strongly opposed this nullification. Jackson also let it be know that he would send 50,000 troops into South Carolina. This action scared South Carolina, and when they asked other states for help they got no promises of military aid. Finally seeing that his state was in bad shape John C. Calhoun asked Henry Clay to help him come up with compromise. They came up with a law that would lower tariff annually over a 10 year period until they were satisfactory.
After the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis were dealt with things were relatively quiet for awhile. Then in 1850 California requested admission to the union as a free state. California was the first state applying for state hood in the Mexican Cession. Southerners feared if California was a free state the rest of the territory would be too. Northerners felt they had to stop the spread of slavery to end it altogether.
Then came another attempt to resolve the conflicts between the North and the South. In January of 1850 Senator Henry Clay proposed a plan. His plan was divided into six parts. The first part was that California would be admitted to the Union as a non-slave state. The second part was that Utah and New Mexico could decide if they wanted to be slave states of free states when they applied for statehood. The third and Fourth parts were tied into each other, the third part was that Land in dispute between New Mexico and Texas would go to New Mexico and for giving up this land Texas would receive 10 million dollars. The fifth part was that buying and selling of slaves but not slavery wouldn't be allowed in the District of Columbia. The sixth and final part was that congress would enforce a law stating that runaway slaves must be returned to their owners. The bill was passed section by section until it became law. This again delayed the inevitable.
was one of the issues that the northerners and the southerners fought about.
In the south the main way of life was agriculture, the main cash crop
was cotton. Cotton was a labor consuming crop, it would cost a man
a fortune to pay people to work for him. Slaves were the answer to
Slave owners didn't see the slaves as people he saw him as property. Slaves were treated bad. Even the owners who saw themselves as fair still treated their slaves as dogs. They were regularly beaten, they worked from dawn till dark for free.
This unfair treatment was a reason why many slaves wanted to escape, or runaway from their masters to free states where they would be free. One way they escaped was the underground railroad. It was called the underground railroad because it was secret and the slaves were hidden at secret "stations" along the way, the people who guided the escaping slaves were called conductors. One famous conductor was Harriet Tubman. She guided many many slaves to freedom.
Another famous slave was Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a slave who had been taken to Illinois, a free state, then to the Wisconsin territory where slavery was outlawed by the Missouri compromise. He was then returned to Missouri by his master. Dred Scott then sued his masters widow for his freedom saying that it was illegal to be taken to a free state then taken back into slavery. The supreme court decided that slaves weren't citizens so they didn't have the right to sue. The supreme court also decided that slaves were property, and the bill of rights protected property therefore congress couldn't outlaw slavery in any of the territories.
This decision in the Dred Scott case pleased many southerners they felt that now the new states would now be able to choose to be slave states. The decision angered many northerners they felt that slaves were more than property and felt that this ruling was unfair.
In 1854 there
was a bill that formed two territories in the Louisiana Purchase, these
states were Kansas and Nebraska. The bill also said that even though
these territories were north of the anti-slavery line the people of the
territory would have a chance to vote whether to be free or slave.
This bill would allow southerners to try and add another slave state to the Union. Pro slavery people started moving into the Kansas territory. The state of Missouri started recruiting settler who were for slavery and sent them to settle in the new territories. In 1855 people from Missouri crossed the border and voted illegally. The legislature in Kansas started making pro-slavery laws. This angered the anti-slavery people so they formed their own government. With two governments fighting for control law and order broke apart. People started fighting and bloodshed took place this it became known as Bleeding Kansas. There were raids and murders. One group pro-slavery group destroyed the town of Lawrence and the antislavery newspaper there. As a rebuttal to this act an abolitionist from Ohio named John Brown and his sons murdered five pro-slavery activists, in Pottawatomie Creek.
John Brown was a fanatical abolitionists after this massacre in Pottawatomie he moved east. He was financially supported there by other abolitionists. On October 16, 1859 Brown led a group of 18 men in a raid to take the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, VA. They wanted to take the guns here then they hoped that slaves in the area would rebel and come and get the guns. Marines surrounded them. When Brown wouldn't surrender the Marines stormed him and captured him. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death.
Another Famous Abolitionist was Harriet Beecher Stowe. She wrote the famous book Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was a book about the way slaves were treated. At this time many northerners had never even seen a black person so many opinions of slavery were formed from this book. Uncle Tom's Cabin made many people who could have cared less about slavery become abolitionists hard core.
Abraham Lincoln: On Feb. 12, 1809 in a log cabin in Illinois Abraham Lincoln was born. At the age of six Abraham and his sister walked "up the road a piece"(2 miles each way) to go to school. He learned the three R's, he liked writing and said that practiced "anywhere and everywhere that lines could be drawn". In 1816 the Lincolns moved to backwoods Indiana. In 1818 Abe's mother died. It only took one year for Abe's father to see that the family needed a mother so he went to town and married himself a widow named Sara Bush Johnston. Abe and his sister learned to love their new mother. She helped everyone in the family. Most of all she helped Abraham. Seeing how eager he was to learn, she encouraged him to study. He later said "She was the best friend I ever had...All that I am, I owe to my angel mother." All of his schooling equaled less than a year but he made up for that by reading. He was a crazy reading fool.
When Abe was the owner of the country store hired him to take a flat boat to New Orleans. This was his first chance to see the outside world. Abe traveled 1,000 miles to New Orleans, this is where Lincoln got his first taste of slavery. He didn't like the seeing the slave gangs in chains being taken to the plantations. He later said "Slavery is a constant torment to me."
When Abe was 21 he decided he was ready to live on his own. So when his father moved he stayed and decide to go to New Orleans again. When he returned he worked as a clerk in the town store. This is where stories about his honesty first started, people said that he once walked six miles just to give back a few pennies to a woman who had paid too much for groceries. People knew that they would get a fair deal when doing business with "honest Abe".
In 1832 he enrolled in the Black Hawk war. Lincoln was elected as captain of his rifle company. This was an honor to him but he knew nothing of military life. During the war he never saw any action but he did experience the hardships of military life. These experiences gave him sympathy for the soldiers fighting for him during the civil war.
After the war the store he was running in New Salem didn't work out. So he bought another one with William Berry on credit. Months later Berry died leaving Lincoln in debt $1,000. It took him years to pay it off. In 1833 Abe took an appointment as deputy county surveyor. He had to learn how to survey though. He studied all day and sometimes all night, and learned to survey in six weeks.
In 1834 he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He was reelected in 1836, 1838, 1840. During this time Abe was determined to become a lawyer, so he borrowed the law books and studied them. Many times he would walk 20 miles just to return one and get another. On September 9, 1839 he received his law license. In 1837 he moved to Springfield he was dirt poor. So poor, that he couldn't even afford to buy sheets for his bed. The storekeeper felt so sorry for him he asked Abe to share his home.
By 1839 Lincoln had established himself as a lawyer in Springfield. At this time he met Mary Todd. She was also being courted by a man named Stephen A. Douglas. Mary's parents wanted her to marry Douglas, but she wanted Lincoln. She predicted that someday he would be president of the United States of America. On February 4, 1842 they were married.
In 1847 he went to Washington D.C. to represent Illinois. At this time the Mexican war was going. Lincoln antiwar speeches displeased his supporter and he knew he wouldn't be reelected. In 1849 he went back to _ght Lincoln back into politics. This act allowed states to decide whether or not they wanted to be slave or free. This would allow slavery to spread and Abe didn't like that idea. He began giving speeches against this act. In 1856 he helped to organize the Illinois branch of new Republicans. A party formed by people wanting to stop the spread of slavery. IN 1858 Lincoln was the Republican nomination for senator from Illinois. When he addressed the state convention he said "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I do not expect the house to fall-but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other." Lincolns opponent was S
tephen A. Douglas. Lincoln and Douglas had a bunch of debates on the slavery issue. Lincoln won this election, but the debates had raised the public oppinion of LIncoln.
His friends saw that people liked him and worked to get the Repulican nomination in 1860. LIncoln now saw that he wanted to be president. Lincoln was nominated As the Republican candidate. The democratic party was devided with the North wanting Stephen A. Douglas and the South wanting John C. Breckinridge. For his campaign Lincoln stayed in Springfield. To avoid raising controversy and maybe dividing the party he didn't make any speeches. This worked nd he was elected as the first Republican president.
The election of Lincoln made southerners angry. They felt that a Republican would not respect their rights. They believed that their only hope was to seceed from the Union. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina became the first state to break away from the Union.
When it came time for Abe to become inaugurated as the six-teenth president of the United States. He had many threats against his life, none of them frightened him. He wa saware that there was great danger for a man in his position during a crisis. The election of 1860 was a major factor in starting the civil war. In his inaugural speech LIncoln said that he would respect the rights of the south despite this the civil war began six weeks later.
At the start of the Civil War it appeared that the south would have no chance of winning. The north had more money more men they had the advantage. They had more industry and other resources. These advantages were eventually used by general Grant to win the war.
There were some advantages that the south had though. One was the type of war they had to fight. They could stay on the defensive until the North found out they couldn't win. Another advantage was that Lincoln couldn't find anyone to lead his army. He led the army himself for awhile.
At the start of
the war the Union decided that to win they would "strangle" the
confederate states. They came up with a plan called the anaconda plan,
named for the snake wich wraps itself around it's victims and then suffocates
them. This plan consisted of four parts they were;
1) To block off the ports of trade of the south so they wouldn't be able to trade to get supplies.
2) They would take the Mississippi River Valley thus dividing the confederacy into two parts.
3) To take the Tennessee river and then into Georgia and divide the confederacy even more.
4) The final goal was to take the Confederate capitol of Richmond.
In July 1861 Gen. George B. McClellan had won some small victories. People wanted them to take Richmond. So on July 16, 1861 General Irvin McDowell led Union troops south towards Richmond. On the way the confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard met them on the banks of the creek Bull Run. At first the Union troops were kicking butt. Then they met a "StoneWall" a brigade commanded by a guy named General Thomas J. Jackson, this earned him the name of stonewall Jackson. When reinforcements arrived the Union troops began to retreat. At this point President Lincoln asked General McClellan to train the troops more. It took him a year.
While these troop were training general U.S. Grant was winning battles in Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1862 he took Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, when the commander asked for the terms of surrender Grant told him there were none except "Unconditional Surrender". Then people started saying his initials stood for Unconditional Surrender.
After taking Fort Donelson he marched his troop on almost to the border of Mississippi. It was by Shilo that confederates launched a surprise attack on Grants forces. The battle here lasted 2 days, it was counted as a Union victory but it cost Grant 13,000 men.
These battles on land were very influential in the war, but one place that the Union forces had during the war was the warfare at sea. Because they did not have any resources for building ships the Confederates didn't have any large ships to challenge the Union boats. This allowed the North to cut off all southern ports of trade without any reistance from sea. The only thing the confederates had was ships called Confederate raiders. One famous confederate ship was the Alabama in it's two years of service it sank or captured 67 Union ships. It finally was sank by the U.S. Navy's ship Kearsarge. The two ships fought for more than an hour finally the Alabama went down.
In March 1862, the south captured a Union boat called the Merrimac. They turned the Merrimac into and ironclad, they covered the sides and decks with 4 inches of iron. This boat was renamed to the Virginia, it was to free the ports of Virginia by braking the blockade. At first it was succesful it sank one ship by ramming it, and it scared all the others away. Union cannonballs bounced harmlessly off. Then the next day another ironclad called the Monitor sailed up to the Virginia, it was called the Monitor. The Monitor was a ship theat the Union had a inventor build for them it had one difference from the Virginia instead of fixed guns it had a rotating gun turret. For hours they fired at eachother they fired until they ran out of ammo. Neither ship won the fight but afterwards the Virginia had to go in to get repairs.
In July, 1862 Lincoln told his cabinet that he had decided to issue a proclamation freeing the slaves. They told him to wait until the Union forces won and important victory, otherwise it might look like an act of fear.
In september 1862 General Rober E. Lee, who had taken control of the confederate army in an attack of Richmond, decided to attack Maryland. President Lincoln put General McClellan ,who he had taken out of power, back in command to stop this invasion. They fought a bloody battle at Antietam Creek. The invasion was stopped, but the battle could only be counted as a draw. Thie results did have a good effect for the North. If Lee would have won then Great Britain and France might have given the confederates support.
The result also gave Lincoln the chance to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He felt this was the victory his cabinet had advised him he needed. So on September 22, 1862 he said that if by January 1, 1863 he would free every slave in all of the rebel slave states unless they rejoined the Union before that date. None of the states were going to return so on New Years Day 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation didn't free any slaves because the slave states wouldn't free them and the border states didn't have to free their slaves.
One thing that happened because of the Emancipation Proclamation helped the Union. As they pushed into the south former slaves would join them. Over 100,000 black people that used to be slaves joined them. Also the British people did not like slavery so there was less chance that they would help the rebels.
During the war black had a very important role in the fighting. In the south blacks weren't allowed to fight. They weren't allowed in the North for a time either, but after Emancipation they were acceepted. About 200,000 balck men fought in the war, many of them recieved medals for their duty.
In 1863 one of the most pivotal points of the civil war took place. By this point the two main figures of the war were U.S. Grant and General Lee of Virginia. General Lee decided to invade the North once again. He picked Pennsylvania, at this point he had no chance for foreign aid, but he thought that if he won a major victory on Northern soil it might change that fact. It would also lower northern confidence. Lastly his men needed clothes, food, and other supplies. They could obtain these supplies in Pennsylvania In June 1863 his army advanced into Pennsylvania.
The Union army of the potomac was also moving. They were trying to keep ahead of confederate forces. They were led by General Goerge G. Meade.
Neither of the general was ready to fight a battle in early July, but on July 1 scout unit of each army were marching along and almost by chance they ran into eachother. As they fought both sides were rushing reinforcements as fast as they could. On the first day the confederates pushed the Union soldiers back but by the end of the day thousands of them had reached cemetary hill where they dug in for the defense. They were going to make a last stand but they were not attacked. So during the night the union forces had the chance to form a defensive line three and a half miles long. One mile away across and open plane Lee placed his troops on Seminary Ridge. During the second day Lee tried to break through the defenses and flank them.
On July 3 in the morning Confederate guns started firing Union guns fired back. Then to conserve ammunition Meade ordered them to stop firing. Thinking he had his chance Lee ordered a frontal attack. 15,000 soldiers marched almost as if on parade over the half mile towards the Union forces. After a few hundred yards Union cannons lashed out at them. Then musket fire began one soldier said it mowed them down like "wheat before the scythe". After that they were driven off by Union defendersd using ahything they could, cannon rammers, sabers, clubbed rifles. This charhge was called Picketts Charge even though he commanded only 15 of the 46 regiments taking part in the charge. His division did suffer the biggest losses of his 5,000 soldiers only 800 returned. After this being a wimp as usual Meade opted not to counter attack many say if he had the war would have ended then and there. He didn't though and allowed Lee and his men to retreat back to Virginia in a wagon train 17 miles long.
At the end of
the civil war General Lee and General Grant were running their respective
armies. There was one other general who was very influential in ending
the war, this war General William Tecumsah Sherman. He was a very
In the battle of Shilo Sherman fought right in the middle of the fight. He recieved a rank of Major General for his fighting. In this battle General Grant made many mistakes and got his butt kicked. Because of his mistakes he took much criticism and was going to get out of the army, but Sherman talked him into staying.
After General Grant was given control fo the entire U.S. army Sherman was given control of Grants old army. It was in this position that he made his famous March To The Sea.
On May 6, 1864 Sherman and his army left Chattanooga Tennessee for the city of Atlanta. He reached Atlanta on September second, after he had cleared the city of it's people and he had his men rested he started his famous march to the sea. He cut himself off from his supplies so his men lived on what they stole. what they didn't steal they burned and destroyed. It was 400 wiles from Atlanta to Savanah where his trek would eventually end. There was a path 60 miles wide of destruction behind Sherman and his men. It took 32 days to make this march, and for 32 days no one heard from them. Then on december 20 he telegraphed LIncoln and gave him the city of Savanah as a christmas present.
In may 1864 General Grant ordered an attack on Richmond. The army of Northern Virginia fought off the attacking soldiers. They fought many battles during a short span of time. Both sides lost heavily, Grant lost 60,000 men in less than a month. He knew though that he could handle these losses better than the confederacy. He was still unable to capture Richmond, but instead of retreating like previous generals he continued and went to the south of Richmond. Here he took over the railroad town of Petersburg, and he took control of the roads leading into and out of the capitol. In the Spring of 1865 Lee was forced to leave the city to save his army, then the Union troops took control of the capital.
One week after that Lee's troops who were tired, hungry and in need of many supplies tried to break through the Union lines. They failed and were surrounded at Appomatox Court House. There on April 9, 1865 they General Lee was forced to surrender. After that all confederate resistance was crushed one by one.
On April 14, 1865 President Lincoln and his wife went to a performance of Our American Cousin, at Ford's Theatre in Washington. This is when an actor named John Wilkes Booth shot Lincon for revenge after the souths defeat in the war. At the same time some of his friends were plotting to shoot other leaders but they failed. After he shot Lincoln Booth escaped to Virginia but he was caught later. After the shooting Lincoln was carried to a rooming house acrossed the street. He died the morning after the attack.
After the war was over the reconstruction began. The first part was to bring all the states back into the Union. In 1863 Lincoln had come up with this plan. The first part of this plan was that 10 percent of the men who had voted in the election of 1860 had to swear and oath of loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. Once the 10 percent had taken this oath they could then organize a government that would be recognized as the government of that state by by the president.
After Lincoln's assassination and Andrew Johnson became president he supported the 10 percent plan, he did make some additions though. Each state had to undo their secession acts. They could not pay off confederate war debts. They also had to pass the thirteenth amednment wich outlawed slavery. By the fall of 1865 all 11 states had met the requirements of the plan. They were now able to elect members to congress.
Congress did not like Johnsons plan they thought it was too easy. Southerners were electing people that had been rebel leaders during the war and congress thought that was not right. They felt that the south should be punished for what happend over the past four years. Also the representatives elected by the south were democrats and this threatened the republican majority of congress. The main opposition was a group called radical republicans, they wanted to give former slaves all the freedoms of a regular citizen. They knew that Johnsons plan wasn't strict enough for this to happen. Under their plan the southern states had to pass the fourteenth amendmant as well that said people born in the U.S. are citizens and can't be denied any right of a citizen. It also said that people who had taken place in the rebellion could not take place in government.
President Johnson told the 11 states to not pass the fourteenth amendmant. He felt that the part where rebel leaders couldn't be elected was unfair. Only Tennesee ratified the fourteenth amendmant. iN the elctions of 1866 republicans won the majority majorly, and they wanted to make their own reconstruction bill. Johnson vetoed it but they overrode it and on Mach 2, 1867 the Reconstruction Act of 1867 was passed.
This act said that until the states passed the fourteenth amendmant there would be a general placed there and troops to carry out his orders. It also said that the troops could stay until they felt the state was reconstructed.
After they had passed their own reconstruction plan the republicans tried to impeach president Johnson. They felt they could easily get the 36 senate votes they would need. The trial lasted from March 30 until May 16, 1868. There was only 35 votes to impeach Johnson, only needing one more vote.
After the war many leaders in the south were what people called carpetbaggers. Carpetbaggers were people from the North who came to the South after the war was over. They were called carpetbaggers because many of them carried there belongings in bags made out of carpets. Many carpetbaggers were in positions of power in the southrn governments. Many of them wanted to help, but the majority was just out to make money. Many southerners helped these people, and also gained positions of power. These people were called scalawags, which is a mean, runty farm animal. These carpetbaggers and scalawags spent lots of money in southern government. South Carolinas government spent many dollars on furnishings for the state capitol. In Louissiana carpetbaggers added 34 million dollars to the debt. They also did many good things though, for instance they built many schools during this time they are credited with starting the public education system in the South.
After the war the black people who were formerly slaves were known as freemen. Many of them enlisted in the army. Some worked on the land that there former masters had left. Life was hard for them though. Most southerners did not accept them as free and equal. There were law passed that were very unfair. Some of these law did not allow them to move from place to place, some didn't let them vote, or not to change jobs. They also made more severe penalties for black criminals. So even though they had gotten their freedom they still did not gain much.
The civil war and the results of it are one of the greates tragedies in the history of our country. The reconstruction of our country lasted more than ten years from 1865 to 1877. The civil war and it's reconstruction played a large part in shaping our country into what we know it as today.
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Flato, Charles. The Golden Book of the Civil War. Golden Press. New York. 1960.
"Sherman, William Tecumseh". Comptons Encyclopedia. Vol. 21.