Friday, June 26, 2009

Civil War Essay

America had been an agricultural society from the colonial days. Increasingly, industrialization in the North changed the focus in the Northern society. Northern states sought growth, change, the interchange of products, ideas, even peoples, all things abhorrent to the static, structured south. Indeed, in time, the South concluded that the national legislature merely reflected the moneyed interests of the North. Secession under these conditions seemed just.

The North, unlike the South had many advantages previous to the Civil War. The North had an expansive population, railroads, and a sense of the more modern world. On the other hand, the South had about one-third the North’s population and not even a quarter of the new industries and more modern way of living.

The years leading up to the Civil War were not easy, yet they were a time of growth for the United States. In 1800, only eight million people lived in America. By 1860, the population was almost 4 times the size at an increasing thirty-one million people. The country had also added new territories to its borders, miles of railroad track, and leaders in foreign countries were beginning to pay close attention to this successful new country. (Davis, pg 86)

“Although growth brought the United States wealth and glory, it also created conflicts throughout the nation. As the country changed, two very different ways of life developed within its borders-one in the North and the other in the South. The more America prospered the more divided these two sections became.” (Delia Ray pg.17) William Howard Russell, a British newspaper reporter, traveled from England to America in 1861 to write about the changes in America. He went first to New York City and he automatically noticed the massive amounts of activity along the shores. He noticed the many ferryboats and freighters working busily in the bay. Russell could see the thick blackened smoke over the many factories where railroad parts and other pieces of machinery were made. As Russell got off the steamship, he heard the voices of the many different accents, some German, some Irish. Most of the people on the dock were newcomers to the United States (Hoeman, para. 12-14). In fact, during this time, millions of men and women from foreign countries poured into America in search of jobs in the mills and factories.

All across the North, cities followed the footsteps of New York. This period of America’s growth was known as the Industrial Age. Inventors developed new machines that made new products at speeds never imagined possible. With the rapid immigration, quiet towns seemed to become noisy in a matter of months. (Urwin, pg. 52)

William Russell then traveled to the southern states. On his journey he discovered quite a different scene. From his train window, he could see miles of farmland and rode for long stretches before he came to a city setting. Compared to the North, the South was quiet with almost no immigrants and little manufacturing. Life in the South was mainly concerned with huge estates, fields of cotton, and tobacco. During his journey through the United States, Russell learned that the two sections were as different as their cities and towns within months.

One of the most important ties with the North and the South was the trade. The South depended on the North to transport its goods to other countries such as England and also make trades of their own with the North. The people in the South watched the North grow more and more and they become jealous, but more fearful of the power the northerners had. Southerners feared that the North would take over and begin to pass laws that would hurt their state’s economies. John C. Calhoun, a southern senator who became vice president, was one of the first leaders in the country to try and make a helpful move on this situation. Calhoun spent most of the summer of 1828 devising a plan on a way to alleviate this fear. This was a bad move because it startled the North and angered President Andrew Jackson. It was because of the expression of the southerners fear for their estates that this all began.

There are many different views and opinions of the true cause of the Civil War. Many can be supported by evidence and facts and many can be proven true; yet, the effects of the economical society on the United States show much effect on the separation between the North and the South. The disunity of the sections brought much disunity to the states and much disruption to America itself.

The Civil War was a drama of history, it was a story filled with bloodshed, pain, and glory. The idea of brother against brother was one of amazement and yet it seemed quite out of the ordinary. To some it was a war that made them proud and others were ashamed to admit the disunity of their nation; yet, it was fought with courage and braveness until the end.

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