American Civil Wars

During the 1850s, the United States Northern and Southern support of slavery differed. The Southern supported slavery while the Northern was opposed to the move. During this period, there were Free States and Free State territories. Dred Scott was born as a slave for Peter Blow who later sold him to an army surgeon, John Emerson who lived in Fort Selling. Fort Selling was a territory that had been banned from slavery under the Missouri Compromise. There were a series of job transfers for Mr. Emerson before he finally died leaving behind Scott with Emerson’s widow, Mrs. Scott. It is thought that Mrs. Emerson tried to hire out Scott and his slave wife thereby resulting into Scott filing a court case to obtain his freedom.

The case was called the Scott vs. Sanford because it involved Scott and Mrs. Emerson’s brother Sanford. Scott had been living in a free state for about nine years, giving him the ground to fight for his freedom according to the law that stated that all persons were equal in America. The disagreement between Scott and Sanford resulted in about ten years of court battles which finally ended up at the United States Supreme Court. Initial court cases at the federal court did not bear the fruit that Scott had anticipated; it mostly protected the slave owners at the expense of the slaves themselves.

Civil Wars in America

In Greenberg (2009), the Supreme Court had biases regarding slavery. In 1857, the Supreme Court through the Chief Justice Rodger Taney ruled that Scott was still a slave. Taney, a staunch supporter of slavery claimed that by the majority opinion Scott was not an American citizen and therefore could not sue anyone because he was black.  The decision declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which forbid slavery in some parts of the country unconstitutional. It also claimed that the Fifth Amendment lacked the authority to take property from citizens properties gained from sheer hard work, a ruling that further served to face out the provisions for slavery in the Missouri Compromise.

Taney distinguished between citizenship that was granted by the states and that which was granted by the federal government. He concluded that American citizenship belonged to the European descendants who were present in 1787. He insisted that European citizens could offer citizenship to immigrants of the same background but not to African slaves of those descents. He further claimed that blacks could not be granted citizenship by the federal government much as they could get citizenship through the independent states. During that time, the government passed the Fugitive Slave Act which stated that the United States constitution alone knew what applied to the fugitive slaves in the Free states and not the states.

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The court decision swept through the country provoking rather predictable responses. There was an irreparable split of the north from the south. While the south was proslavery, the north was anti slavery. Abolitionists were incensed leading to the civil wars between the north and the south and further widening the social and political gap that existed between the south and the north.

Both the republicans and the democrats reacted. Justice McLean and Curtis who were republicans read dissenting opinions in favor of Scott. This gave the republicans leverage on which to exercise war of words against the democrats.

The Southern economy was predominantly agrarian, depending in the growing and semi- processing of cotton. Although Eli Whitney had introduced the use of machine that would separate the seeds from the cotton itself, the number of plantations that had been moved from other crops to cotton increased signifying a greater need for large amounts of cheap labor that was predominantly provided by the slaves. The north was however majorly industrial in nature, buying raw and/or semi processed cotton from the south and processing it into finished products. Hagerman (1992) argues that the economic disparity between the agrarian south and the industrial north resulted in a major difference in economic attitudes. As society evolved, different cultures and social classes were forced to work together with the south continuing to hold onto an antiquated social order.

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Meanwhile, the bending of the Louisiana Purchase and the creation of the Compromise of 1850 by Henry Clay created a balance between free and slave states and by far advance the northern and southern interests. The Compromise of 1850 made provisions for the Fugitive Slave Act but was cut short by the introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which introduced two new territories that allowed states to determine the freedom or slavery of a state by using the Popular Sovereignty System. The result was Bleeding Kansas in which Missourians who had been forced into slavery retaliated in a fight for freedom. The fight was further aggravated by the increasing growth of the abolition movement and the increasing polarization of northerners against slavery.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln who was an antislavery crusader was elected into presidency. South Carolina believing that Lincoln who was anti slavery would favor the northern interests issued their Declaration of the Causes of Secession. Seven other states had earlier seceded from the Union; Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. These states formed the Confederate States of America, the nationalists in the north refused to recognize the secession just as foreign governments did not accept secession.

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Based on the Hagerman (1992) arguments, the secession of most of the southern states resulted in a quest for southern independence, which did not succeed. The southern independence could not hold because the Southerners did not put into consideration the Border States like Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas and Missouri. Their claim of the entire southern territory was not well calculated too, because most part of the south still belongs to the Union even today and would have to be conquered from the Union first.

In addition, the Northern population grew much faster than the southern one, making it extremely difficult and perhaps impossible for the south to conquer and/or influence the national government. According to Hagerman (1992), the civil war was not a class struggle but was sectional combat rooted on the political, social, psychological and economic elements. In 1861, the confederates attacked Fort Sumter, a major United States fortress. It has been said that slavery and its multifaceted discontents were the main causes of disunion which later resulted in the sparking of wars.

Effects of the Civil Wars on the North and On the South

While the South had a geographical advantage over the North, the North had political leverage over the south due to the on point leadership of Abraham Lincoln who was very decisive during wartime hence leading the north in virtual successes. The north also had an upper hand based on the manpower and industrial capacity. The Northern populations were relatively high making their army sizes also big. Being an industrialized area, it had well developed transport system i.e. an elaborate railroad system thereby allowing for the effective transportation to migrate supplies.

The battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Appomattox were the major turning points of the civil wars. The Bull Run brought to an end the hopes of the Northerners on ending war and stopping rebellion of the South in one battle. It also helped benchmark on the bloodiness and weight of wars. The Antietam was considered the greatest battle having killed twenty three thousand southern troops in a single day making them unable to take on the offensive again. A series of events after the break of the southern troops led to the collapse of the Confederacy resistance.

As the men went into war, women both in the North and in the South took up their husbands’ roles, working in their farms and in the industry. This gave a sense of economic independence and good wages. They also derived the joy and pride of participating in the war by willingly letting their husbands go into warfare during those periods. Southern white women directly involved in war working as spies or smuggling military supplies into the south camp. The women also made clothes from wool for the soldiers. The women were paid half to two thirds of men’s pay but they rejoiced because they would never get the same amount when the men were around.

Abraham Lincoln having known the commitment of the African Americans in fighting for their race, he employed the blacks in the federal troops leading to the disintegration of slavery. There was a belief that serving in the federal army or navy was a license to acquiring federal citizenship hence the African American readily gave themselves to the service as officers in the army and in the navy.


Post Civil War Relationships between the North and the South

After the civil wars according to Hagerman (1992), the U.S.A had the responsibility of rebuilding the north, the south and the federal government at large. It also had the responsibility of building a relationship that had long been tensed by slavery. The then president having claimed that the eleven states that had sought secession had not left the union appointed provisional governors in the Tennessee, Louisiana and North Carolina. He announced a reconstruction plan in which he would give amnesty to all southerners who took an oath of loyalty and recognize state governments incase a ten percent pre-war electorate renounced slavery. The congress did not agree to the idea and continually shot down presidential vetoes on the same.

A Freedmen’s Bureau was formed following the ratification of the thirteenth amendment that abolished slavery; the bureau was supposed to protect the freed slaves from policies that were set up by some states called the Black Codes. The Black Codes were meant to tie the freed slaves to the land in which they worked and lived. 

In conclusion, the success of the north over the south was attributed to many factors including internal conflicts with the south who emphasized on states rights thereby resulting in their diplomatic failure to secure international foreign intervention in conflict. The breakdown of the slavery during the wars hence resulted in a devastated southern economy. Failure by the southern to adopt proper military strategies also resulted in them losing in the battle.

Following the civil wars between the south and the north, the United States have been keen to clearly draw state and continental boundaries as a measure of curbing on territorial wars. This however has not helped especially as far as equality between the black and white Americans is concerned. It is still a worrying trend that at the face of American imperialism the African Americans felt and still does feel left out in most social and economic issues of the country. The feeling of neglect by the federal government of the South has led to a continual fight for the southern independence through legislative means. The south has still remained agrarian, with lesser economic emancipation as compared to the North. It is therefore imperative that adequate measures be taken not just to mark out boundaries, but also to take care of the southern need of consideration in economic issues and policy. Governance and human rights are also issues to be observed closely.



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