American Civil War

This essay discusses the relationship between the Mexican-American War and the coming of the American Civil War by identifying and explaining the historical significance of the Wilmot Proviso, the Free Soil Party, and the Compromise of 1850. In addition, it establishes the relationship between the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the coming of the American Civil War. Moreover, it presents a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the military campaign in the Western theater of the war from January through June of 1862.The American civil war was majorly fought so as to preserve Union which referred to United States of America. The Northern states had conflicting economic interests from those of the Southern States. The southern states were mainly comprised of huge farms that were labor intensive while the North was manufacturing oriented and thus capital intensive. The North abolished slave trade but in the South, slavery still went on. When more states were added to the union, they had to be assured that they joined as Free State and not as slaves. The Compromise of 1850 was meant majorly to reconcile the Northern and the Southern States and thus try to prevent any conflict. The compromised contained five parts of which two were very controversial. The first one gave Kansas and Nebraska a choice to make between joining as slaves or Free states. Nebraska decided to join as a free state at the start. Later, pro and anti-slave forces moved to Kansas so as to try influencing the decision. A fight broke between the two sides with heavy casualties and this was a pointer to the civil war. The second Act allowed slave owners from the south to recapture escaped slaves as far as the Northern state; this Act was not welcomed well by the abolitionists in the North (Curry, 1964).

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The Wilmot proviso came as an amendment of the funding bill that had been formulated by the president James K. Polk. This bill was intended to establish a fund to run peace negotiations between Mexico and United States so as to end the Mexican American war and to for a treaty. It stated that any land that was acquired from Mexico during the war was to be free from slavery or forced labor.  This proviso was passed in the House since the majority ware Northerners who did not have slaves. The senate however refused to ratify it since most of them were southerners who owned slaves. The Free Soil Party was established by anti-slavery forces from the Wing party and Liberty Party in 1848. The Party was opposed to the extension of slave trade and slavery to the western territories. The party denied any more compromises with the slave powers and fought to prohibit slavery in the new territory (Wittke, 1952).

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the congress in 1854, this Act steered the nation directly to the civil war. The then senator of Illinois had tabled a report of the committee of Territories before the senate providing the organization of Kansas and Nebraska. The bill allowed the States to decide whether to allow or abolish slavery in those states. The enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska bill completely repealed the Missouri Compromise which had abolished slavery in the Northern States. The Missouri Compromise had been regarded as a binding agreement between the Northerners and the Southerners. When the Northerners came to realize that the bill was being considered by the senate, they were so enraged that they started to campaign against it. Despite the spirited fight from the Northern states, the congress passed the bill into law thus exposing the two territories into open confrontations (Curry, 1964).

The southern states that were pro-slavery and the antislavery northern states both rushed to Kansas to try and win it. The southern states accessed the state and decided to illegally cast their votes before the elections. They voted the proslavery candidate as the governor but the Northern settlers rejected the fraudulent elections and decided to hold their own elections which the proslavery individuals refused to participate. As a result of this, two parallel governments were set up in Kansas and this sparked the American civil war. The antislavery forces were led by John Brown, they refused to back off and returned violence for violence from the supporters of those who encouraged slavery. Since the Southern States had supported President Pearce, he sent federal army to the territory to stop the war. Polls were held afresh but still the election malpractices of the southerners led to their candidate winning. The congress however refused to accept their constitution and thus Kansas remained a territory (Wittke, 1952).

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The trials of Dred Scott marked the beginning of a series of complicated activities which led to the decision of the United States Supreme Court which actually accelerated the American Civil war. Scott and his wife filed a court suit in 1846 against Mrs. Emerson demanding their freedom. Scott had lived in Free states for more than nine years but had not demanded for his release, the Missouri courts had in the past supported the doctrine of once free, always free. The first trial was held in 1847 and the Scotts lost since hearsay evidence was provided but they were given a chance for the second trial. The second trial was held in the same courtroom but this time round the Scotts won and the jury decided that the Scotts should be free. Mrs. Emerson appealed in the Missouri Supreme Courts where the rulings made in the previous trials were overturned on the grounds that slavery was becoming more divisive in the whole nation. The courts mainly based its argument on political reasons and thus returned the Scotts to slavery.

Several other appeals were made until the case reached the U.S Supreme Court where a ruling was made that since Scott was a slave and not an American citizen, he had no rights to bring suits to the federal courts and since he had never been free before he was a personal property. He also declared that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional and therefore the Federal Government had no authority to prohibit slave trade in the new territory. The public received this decision with hostility since they feared that this would spread slavery without any checks. The Republican Party that had been made to stop the spread of slavery renewed its fights, political campaigns and other divisive issues led to the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president and the secession of South Carolina from the union. The Dred Scott Decision moved the United States closer to the civil war (Wittke, 1952).

The Lincoln-Douglas debates were extremely popularized by the media, the very contentious issue about these debates was the Dred Scott Decision. Douglas had supported the decision and instilled fear in people claiming that if Lincoln won, he would release the black slaves who would then take jobs from the whites. Lincoln forced Douglas to explain why he supported popular sovereignty. Douglas used the Free port Doctrine where he stated that the people of the new state had to decide whether they would allow slavery or not and this annoyed his party members since they were proslavery (John, 1963).

The battle of Mill springs was fought in January 19 of 1962 and it marked an early victory for the union. It was fought along river Cumberland in Kentucky and it saw Brig. Gen. George Thomas defeat a Confederate force led by Maj. Gen. George Crittenden and led to the breaking down of confederate line that were at the eastern side of Kentucky. On the sixth of February, the battle of Fort Henry also presented a victory to the Union. Brig. Gen. Ulysses Grant had led his troops to Fort Henry the previous and when the Western Flotilla reached river Tennessee, they found it partly flooded and had to surrender after a brief battle (Curry, 1964).

The battle of Fort Donnellson saw an early engagement of the American Civil war round about the eleventh of February. There was an attack of the confederate outpost that was at the Cumberland River. The union forces under Ulysses surrounded Fort Donnellson and compelled them to an unconditional surrender. The battle of Valverde was fought in the New Mexico territory on the 20th and 21st of February 1862. Brig. Gen. Henry Sibley wanted to capture Fort Craig that was held by the Union Forces which was led by Col. Edward Canby. There were heavy casualties on both sides and Canby relied on the Fort for defense. Sibley was forced to retreat since he did not have enough men to attack Fort Craig. On 7th of March, the battle of Pea Ridge was fought in Arkansas, the Union forces under Brig. Gen. Samuel Curtis defeated the Confederate troops which were led by Maj. Gen. Earl and this victory stamped the control of the Union on Missouri (Wittke, 1952).

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George B. McClellan was a general-in-chief of the Union Army from November to March of 1862. He commanded a very well trained army and organized them efficiently and his army was popularly referred to as the Army of the Potomac. Even though he was very good in planning attacks, he was often not able to mount a strong confrontation against other strong armies in the battlefield. Due to this reason, his army was often not engaged even during crucial times. He was defeated in the Peninsula Campaign and staged a very poor performance in the battle of Antietam and was consequently removed from the army. Despite being considered a failure by Lincoln, he was very popular with the soldiers who regarded him as a very good commander. He also cared about the well being of his soldiers and many people blamed his inefficiency to pro-Lincoln agenda prevalence he held that time (Curry, 1964).

Robert E. Lee on the other hand, was regarded very highly among the generals for the Confederates forces. His successes include the Seven Days Battle, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville and the Second Battle of Bull Run. He however had some serious failures like in the Battle of Antietam where he escaped defeat narrowly and had to retreat; he also attempted to attack the North but failed. He succeeded in most of his battles against very powerful armies and was very courageous and a good strategist and still remain an icon in American Military Leadership (Wittke, 1952).

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