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The Situation in the USA after the Civil War

The history of the country is very important in its life and future development. History of the state is a basis for its formation, its mistakes, and successes. Therefore, for any educated person who wants to do something for the prosperity of their country, it is important to know the history of other countries to avoid repeating past mistakes. It is also possible to go by someone's right way and to know and respect their own history.

The history of each country is very unique. The history of the US includes many wars. It should be noted that almost in all wars US Government took care that the country was not only safe, but also benefited from it. For almost 200 years the US was involved in a war about 200-250 times.

American Civil War ended more than 140 years ago. However, there are only few events that can compete with the impact it had on Americans. Regardless of the riches of its content and the variety of effects on international relations of that era, foreign policy of the US during the Civil War did not cause the biggest revolutions in the world history.


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Civil War tremendously influenced future development of the US as well as the future of diplomatic relations of this country. Socio-economic changes brought by the Civil War called lead to new growth of the US economy in 60's. The way the US economy had evolved during this period was unprecedented in the history of capitalism. There were not only quantitative but also qualitative changes in the industry, especially related to concentration of production: new enterprises were real giants equipped with the latest technology.

Together with great losses of the Civil War, the unity of the US was preserved and the slavery was abolished. Prohibition of slavery was enshrined by the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which came into force on December 18, 1865.

After the war favorable conditions were created for rapid development of industrial and agricultural production, development of western lands, and strengthening of the internal market.

Although the impact of Civil War has been studied for many years, it does not lose its value of studies and is still relevant.


Situation in the USA after the Civil War

Civil War (1861-1865) is a historical milestone of great significance for the United States. The victory of capitalist North over the slave-owning South opened broad prospects for the smooth development of capitalism in many industries and agriculture in the United States. This was facilitated by rich natural resources of the country with large reserves of coal, iron and other ores, oil, and gold. Rapid industrial development of the country was closely connected with the victory of the "American" way of development of capitalism in agriculture.

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After the Civil War the development of new territories in the West and associated construction of railways, roads, river channels, and harbors contributed to the growth of industry as well as to the creation of a large domestic market. American bourgeoisie used European capital and borrowed technical achievements of advanced countries of Europe.

Millions of immigrants from Europe and Asia provided the necessary labor. In the last quarter of the 19th century the number of immigrants was over 10 million people. There were many skilled workers among them.

Success of various industries in the east of the country made capitalists of eastern states subordinated to domination of the economy of the West. Large industrial centers such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland appeared in the Midwest. New industries such as iron, steel, petroleum, chemical, and electrical developed especially fast. Competition with other "old" capitalist countries and high cost of labor encouraged the use of new machines, new technical inventions, and more sophisticated methods of organizing production. The United States became the strongest country in the world already in 1894. It outperformed all other capitalist countries in the volume of industrial production.

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Agricultural production, especially production of wheat, was growing rapidly. Export of cheap American wheat, which penetrated the European market before the Civil War, continued to grow until the end of the century.

After the Civil War American farmers had mastered large tracts of land in the West. During 40 years, until 1900, farmers received 81 million hectares of public land based on the Homestead Act. Wealthy farmers, who gradually separated from the crowd, as well as railway companies, which received 65 million hectares of land, developed capitalist economy by intensively using agricultural machinery and labor of wage workers.

In the former slaveholding South freed African Americans were left without land and become tenants. In general, however, capitalism in agriculture in the United States grew faster than in other countries.

Transformation of the United States of America into an industrial country was accompanied by the increased concentration of production and centralization of capital. This process started before the Civil War and became more intense in the 70's after the crisis of 1873. In the end of 70's first associations of capitalists began to form. At first they appeared in the form of “pools”, which were agreements between capitalists about the volume of production and regulation of the market price. In the 90's they were replaced by the “trests”, which were gigantic associations. By the end of 19th century the part of industrial production, which was owned by the largest enterprises and stock companies, reached 66.7% of the total cost of production.

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Concentration occurred in all sectors of the economy: industry, railways, banking, and agriculture. By 1900 more than half of the railways were in the hands of six largest companies: Morgan, Vanderbilt, Harriman, Gould and Hill, and Pennsylvania company.

Rockefeller Oil Company ("Standard Oil Company") was formed in 1870. Already in 1879 this powerful “trest” acquired a monopoly position concentrating 90% of oil production in its hands. Its influence touched almost all industries.

Soon followed the formation of other monopolies. In the 80’s tobacco, sugar, and meat-trests were organized. In 90’s "trestification" also touched the production of coal, iron, gas, oil, and copper. In the end of 19th century there were 445 industrial and transportation trests with the capital of over $ 20 billion.

Concentration of the bank capital led to its merging with industrial capital. Industrialists and Rockefellers became major financiers. With James Stillman they organized the National City Bank of New York. At the same time Morgan and his partners, mostly bank dealers, gradually began to take control over the railroads and industry associations.

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Large monopolistic unions, which in the 70's were a rare phenomenon, became the dominant force by the end of the 19th century. American capitalism was transformed into monopoly capitalism - imperialism.

With the destruction of slavery and formal extension of political rights for African Americans, the United States became a country in which, according to bourgeois ideologists, the most complete political democracy was established. However, development of the political system of the United States most clearly revealed limitations of the bourgeois democracy. Apparent bitter struggle during presidential elections, Congress elections, and state legislature elections covered the growing domination of the financial oligarchy.

Even before the Civil War there was a system of two bourgeois parties - Republican and Democratic. After the war this traditional division reflected the real balance of power less than before. Petty democratic bourgeois elements were gradually replaced by the Republican Party. It became the party of big industrialists and bankers. The Democratic Party firmly maintained its influence in the South. Democrats focused on large planters, rich farmers, new bourgeoisie of the South, and on the part of the bourgeoisie of the North. The latter was interested in free importation of goods from abroad. The difference between two parties began to fade during transition to imperialism. American ruling class had cleverly used the two-party system to strengthen their rules. One of the bourgeois parties, playing the role of the opposition, became the center of attraction for all discontented, preventing the creation of a genuine people's party.

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Coming to power of one of the two parties entailed changing individuals at all levels of the state apparatus from the top to the bottom. Such practices created opportunities for bribery, corruption, and robbery of voters and the state. Well-developed political corruption led to the situation where in large cities the local government was influenced by the party "political machine." "Boss" (i. e, the head, "master") of the local party organization held huge amounts of money in his hands and managed appointments and nomination of candidates for the Congress and for the state legislature. "Bosses" and their close people often stole municipal funds.

During first 20 years after the Civil War the power of Republicans was unchallenged. However the bourgeoisie of the North did not dare to complete the liberation of African Americans. Former slave owners formed a terrorist organization the Ku Klux Klan, which was hounding black people and supporting whites. The government of the Grant, which was in power, did not take measures against terrorist groups and eventually capitulated before Southerners. Former Confederate leaders were pardoned. In 1876-1877 federal troops of southern states were withdrawn and the "reconstruction" of the South was suspended even though economical and political predominance of planters was not eliminated. The policy of racial discrimination against blacks was renewed.

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Industrial bourgeoisie used its power to create protectionist policies. These policies were against the interests of farmers and workers as they allowed to maintain high prices for manufactured goods in the domestic market.

Aggressive and expansionist tendencies intensified in the foreign policy of the United States. By the end of 19th century occupation of huge areas of the West and northern regions of Mexico ended. This process went very quickly, providing the wide internal market for the industry. Nevertheless, the big bourgeoisie group was not satisfied with only domestic market. In the 80's this group started an active struggle against Britain for the influence in Latin America. In 1889 the conference of the states of American continent was convened according to the initiative of the Secretary of the State J. Blaine in Washington. The United States proposed 17 of  Latin American republics to establish the inter-American customs union. The project was not successful since Latin American republics perceived this initiative as very suspicious. But the conference still approved the establishment of the "Union of American Republics to promote trade, friendship and peace." This was the beginning of the PanAmerican Union, which contributed to the expansion of the United States to other countries of the American continent.

US foreign policy showed two trends: expansionism and isolationism. Isolationists, mostly Republicans, advocated non-interference to the policies of European states. "Monroe doctrine" of 1823 said: "America for Americans". Growth of economic power created the desire for external expansion.

Isolationism was a principle of US foreign policy, which rejected alliances with other states as well as interference to the affairs of other continents. This policy was laid by the first US president George Washington. Remoteness of the new republic from Europe (which was the center of political life in 18th - 19th centuries) and its low weight in world affairs made such policy quite natural. The situation began to change with the transformation of the country into a major industrial power in the late 19th century.

Adherents of this doctrine prevailed in American political circles. Only few public figures like President Roosevelt understood the danger of fascist aggression for freedom-loving peoples of the world. In 1935 the US signed the "law of neutrality." This law forbade the export of arms, munitions, and military equipment to howling countries or even neutral states, which could give these weapons to warring parties. The President was granted the right to decide if it was necessary for one or the other party to be a "state of war", even if the war officially was not declared by this state.

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Some time later, while evaluating results of the policy of neutrality, an official representative of the United States of America Secretary of the State Samnar Welles was forced to admit that the policy was wrong and harmful. He admitted:

After the last world war the American people were given the opportunity to take the responsibility for the preservation of world peace by participating in an international organization, which set up to prevent and avoid a war. American people rejected this possibility… We were blind to our own undeniable interest. That's why we did not think that, taking on some of the responsibility for maintaining world order with immediate obligations, which probably was required, we would ensure the preservation of  the democratic ideals for our people and would save our children and grandchildren from the same sacrifices, which were forced to bring their fathers ... Our leaders and the vast majority of our people in the years after World War I deliberately returned to provincial politics, what was usual for earlier times, believing that such a policy was good in the past, it can render their services in new and different world. Now ... we are reaping the bitter fruits of our own short-sightedness ...

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Nowadays the  USA has a sophisticated foreign policy, the main objective of which is establishment of a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of Americans and the international society. The US plays a very important role in international relations. The country has the most advanced network of diplomatic missions in the world. The USA is a founding member of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Alliance and is a member of the UN Security Council. US diplomacy is actively involved in the resolution of a significant number of international conflicts and disputes.

US foreign policy, in spite of being modified during two centuries by new doctrines and thousands expert opinions, is still based on four milestones: the Monroe Doctrine, points of Wilson, amendments of Roosevelt and the concept of the sea power of Admiral Mahan, which in one way or another implement all of the administrations.



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