The Civil War and Slavery

Secession

The Civil War was one of the most fascinating periods in the history of the United States of America. It would be interesting to look into this war because the violence of the American Revolution was not yet a distant memory, and then a century or so later, the new nation was again at war, but this time, the blood that was spilled came from the death and destruction of the fellow citizens. The root cause of the war was the secession of some states from the Union. Therefore, it is important to look at some of the key factors that triggered the decision of some states to secede from the Union.

The three critical factors are political ideology, political conflicts between the North and the South, and the socio-economic ramifications of the call to abolish slavery (“Lecture Notes Lecture 18+19”). When it comes to the discussion on political ideology, the intended meaning is the creation of ideas that resulted in the American Revolution and the creation of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, the cry for revolution, liberty, and equality did not only end with the fight to break free from the control of the British crown, but it also caused a ripple effect within the country. Therefore, everyone had an idea about the importance of personal freedom and the creation of an ideal government that was governed by the will of ordinary people (“Lecture Notes Lecture 9”).

After the improbable struggle to free the colonies from the British Crown, the founding fathers created the US Constitution, and the outcome of that process was a legal framework that was made to prevent the emergence of a very powerful dictatorial government. One could argue that the purpose of the founding fathers was to discourage the development of a government system similar to the type of governing body that was in place during the colonial times. However, the unintended consequence of the legal statement regarding the prevention of all-powerful government was used in the future discussion regarding the rights of individual states, especially when it came to establishing their laws and their way of life. Thus, when a conflict did rise up between the different states, the legal insights regarding the need to ensure that power was not concentrated in one group became a very bitter source of conflict between the leaders of those different states. As a result, this conflict provided a major seed of discontentment among leaders of the South so that when the great storm of trouble came their way, it was easy for them to declare that they would secede from the Union (“Lecture Notes Lecture 16”).

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The second major factor was rooted in the socio-economic forces that shaped the North versus the South situation. In the northern part of the country, the main source of income came from industrialization such as factories and office-related services. However, in the southern portion of the USA, the main source of income was agriculture. In industrialized society, machines required less use of manual labor. On the other hand, in the South, the plantation owners and the agri-business sector needed manual laborers.

It was not only the leaders of the southern states who drew inspiration from the US Constitution and the successful American Revolution. The Negro slaves in the USA also realized that freedom and equality were for all people. It did not take long for the politicians to be forced or inspired to embrace the idea of equality for all people living in the United States. Abraham Lincoln supported the abolitionists, and he believed that America should never tolerate the idea of slavery. When Lincoln became the president, the leaders of the South feared that the new administration would be biased against them, especially with regard to the issue of slavery.

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Summing up, one should state that the three critical factors were related to each other. These three shared common ground as the direct outcome of the successful war for the American independence against the British rule. As a result, everyone in the USA had a new idea about the concept of freedom and equality. At the same time, there was also radical idea on the kind of government that must be allowed to control the country. Taken all together, the southern states were forced to secede from the Union.

Negro Slaves

At first glance, Negro slaves were all the same regardless of their gender. Male and female suffered from the same brutal experience under the system of slavery. For centuries, they had worked as farm hands in both the North and the South. However, after the American Revolution, the northern states ended the use of Negro slaves, and as a result, farmers moved out to the West. In addition, it was in the southern states that one could find a heavy concentration of Negro slaves. Both men and women went through humiliation and disgrace because they did not enjoy basic human rights. Nevertheless, there were plenty of differences between these two groups of slaves.

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The differences between a male African American slave and a female African American slave was due in large part to the changes in the status of Negro slaves from the colonial times up to the time of the Civil War. In the early period of the history of slaves in America, Negro slaves were treated not much differently from servants who came from Europe (“Lecture Notes Lecture 12”). During the colonial period in the USA, male Negro slaves had more rights than their female counterparts. For example, men were allowed to marry white women. It was also easier for men to acquire property as compared to women (“Lecture Notes Lecture 4”).

It was only at a later time, when the legal status of slaves became permanent and it was strengthened through the passage of laws. As the need for farm hands significantly increased, the law of the land made people with black skin to become slaves without the ability to enjoy basic human rights. Although men and women slaves suffered the same, one could argue that it was harder for women in terms of the psychological and emotional torment that they could experience, especially when it came to the southern slave owners. For example, pretty or light-skinned women were sometimes sold for prostitution or for the purpose of concubinage (“Lecture Notes Lecture 6”). When slave trade was outlawed during the 19th century and there were no longer any shiploads of slaves coming in from Africa, it became practical to continue the reproduction of slaves. As a result, women suffered another level of humiliation when slave masters forced them to have another sexual partner other than their husbands.

It was easier for male slaves to experience some form of stability, as their services were needed in the fields. This was especially true for the slaves from the plantations located in the south. However, due to the great value placed on the strength of male slaves to work in the fields, they were oftentimes traded or sold, and as a result, they were separated from their families. It as their absence that could explain the practice that was discussed earlier when their wives were forced to marry another man or to have sexual relations with men other than their original romantic relationships (“Lecture Notes Lecture 6”).

In addition, there were differences when it came to the role played by men and women slaves in the fields and in the households. Household responsibilities were oftentimes given to women. It was the value of women slaves in matters concerning running the house that had made it also easier to tear them apart from their families in order to work as nannies or as assistants to the mistress of the house, if the said household was in a faraway plantation.

Without a deeper analysis of the situation between male and female servants, it is easy to say that they had suffered the same level of humiliation as the property of their masters. However, there were also differences, especially if one would consider the changing status of the slaves in the United States of America. There was a time when male slaves enjoyed more rights than female slaves. When slavery became an established law, men and women suffered under different circumstances. Men were forced to leave families behind, and women were sometimes forced to take on new husbands. Women were always in danger to be traded in as prostitutes or as concubines.

 

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