Monday, October 28, 2019

The Downfall Of The South In The Civil War Essay Example for Free

The Downfall Of The South In The Civil War Essay The Civil War had continued to be a subject of interest by many Americans than any other event in their history. Even the Revolution that marked the birth of the republic pales in comparison, in terms of popularity, with the bloody fratricidal conflict of 1861-1865. Such popular imagination perhaps had been fueled by the thousands of books and articles, movies, and television performances. Furthermore, commemorative monuments, museums, parks, and cemeteries dot every state that saw battle. No skirmish, however minor, lacks at least one historical marker to remind visitors of the event, and every state that raised troops has its mementos flags, uniforms, guns, and equipment which it treasures. To mark anniversary dates, old veterans used to make appearances that would recount their experiences real and imagined in the war. Not immune to such fascination, are historians who continue to recount the battles many times over - describing, attacking or defending the actions of key actors (and many not so important) on both sides of the conflict. Of course, it was a costly war: one which demanded one million casualties, including a half million deaths and millions of dollars in destroyed property which served ample evidence that the Civil War marked a sharp conflict in American history. It is not therefore unusual that many historians have looked into the many facets of the war. Others focused on what could be the causal factors which brought on the war: How significant were the differences that led to war between North and South in 1861? Was it caused by differences in ideologies? A struggle for political power waged by representatives of two economic systems†¦that the conflict was between industrialism and agrarianism? Or a moral issue that served as the basis of a complex web of ideas that led both sides to accept ideologies, or world views that they were convinced, which put them in sharp conflict with one another? This paper however, primarily looks into the underlying issues which greatly influenced the outcome of the war. How the South was placed at a disadvantage - being deficient in terms of population and economy that ultimately led to its downfall in the Civil War. II. Two Main Differing Views Concerning the Cause of War A. Conflicting Economies A highly accepted argument spearheaded during the 1920’s by Charles Beard, who presented that it was the conflicting economic systems of the North and the South which caused the war. He believed that the two economic structures did not remain static which brought about the tremendous change effecting immense dislocation in the social structure, and thereby resulting to igniting the inherent antagonisms outside the bounds of diplomacy. Within each section of the country, the necessities of the productive system were generating significant results. The periphery of the industrial vortex of the Northeast was daily enlarging; agriculture in the Northwest was being steadily supplemented by manufacturing, and the area of tillable land by planters was steadily diminishing a shift by which statesmen had to contend in order to maintain peace. An increase in population concentration was much facilitated by the construction of railways, the telegraph system. Travel and communication was cheap and readily available. It facilitated the clustering of people similar status and parallel opinions into cooperative activities. It contributed to the growth of the intellectual force released by the increase of accumulated wealth - as stimulated by the expansion of the reading public and the literary market. That on the other hand, the South resisted the shift of system and had to defend its economic structure. Beard believed that this opposing system became an â€Å"irrepressible conflict† between the industrial North and the agricultural South, that each was contending for economic and political domination over the nation as demonstrated by the victory of the industrialists in Congress when the North won on the battlefields. The Civil War had put an end to the dominance of agricultural interests, and as such the Civil War was described by Beard as a â€Å"Second American Revolution†. According to Beard’s interpretation, the issue on slavery only played a secondary role in the war and that it was used as a cover up for other purposes. However, historians today by and large disagree with that of Beard. There were reports from early historians indicating that a clash of economic system and interests were none existent between the North and South prior to the war and thereby could not have precipitated the war. B. The Issue on Slavery Eric Foner’s interpretation in contrast to that of Beard makes slavery the central issue. Foner agrees with Beard that the Civil War resulted from a basic conflict in American society. However he rejects the notion that the conflict arose out of industrialism and agrarianism. For Foner, the key issue was slavery, not merely as a moral issue (as some historians have argued), but as well as a sharp contrast of viewpoint that propelled them to a point of conflict. Statesmen of the North expressed concern not only on the extension of slavery, but against its very existence. It was widely accepted that slavery required expansion to survive, and that confinement to the states where it already existed would kill it. In each ideology was the conviction that its own social system must expand, not only to insure its own survival but to prevent the expansion of all the evils the other represented. The Republicans believed that free society, with its promise of social mobility for the laborer, required territorial expansion and how this was combined with a messianic desire to spread the benefits of free society to other areas and peoples. Southerners had their own grandiose design. Writers C. Stanley Urban and Eugene Genovese have emphasized how essential expansionism was in the southern ideology. The struggle for the West represented a contest between two expansive societies only one of whose aspiration could prevail. For the North Americans, slavery could not be allowed to expand, because it would bring upon the West a scar whose fatal influence will be felt for centuries. The Southerners counter-argued that expansion of their own system would prevent the extension of the â€Å"evils† of free society as embodied by the North. Containment meant an indirect admission from the South that slavery is wrong, and should be abolished. Furthermore, it indicated that the South had to abandon its whole ideology, which had come to see slavery as a positive good. Slavery, the Southerners justified, had â€Å"refined† and greatly â€Å"developed† the Negro race. III. Comparison of the North and the South At first glance it seemed that the 23 states of the Union were more than a match for the 11 seceding Southern states South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. There were approximately 22,000,000 people in the North compared with some 9,000,000 in the South (of whom about 3,500,000 were Negro Slaves). In addition, the Federals possessed over 100,000 manufacturing plants as against 18,000 south of the Potomac River, and more than 70 percent of the railroads were in the North. Furthermore, the Union had at its command a 30-to-1 superiority in arms production, a 2-to-1 edge in available manpower, and a great preponderance in commercial and financial resources. It had a functioning government and a small but efficient regular army and navy. But the Confederacy however, despite the many odds against them was not to be snuffed out easily. While at the outset the South without doubt, could have been easily perceived to be on the losing end, there were certain factors which could have made victory possible. Proof of which is that the war dragged on for four years, incurring heavy losses on both sides. The Southern armies had the advantage of fighting on interior lines, and their military tradition had bulked large in the history of the United States before 1860. Moreover, the long Confederate coastline of 3,500 miles (5,600 kilometers) seemed to defy blockade; and the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, hoped to receive decisive foreign aid and intervention. Finally, they were strongly driven for survival by fighting for the intangible objectives of home and white supremacy. Indeed, other nations had won independence against equally heavy odds.

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