The American Civil War Research Papers Example
Type of paper: Research Paper
Topic: War, United States, Civil War, Slavery, Union, America, Print, Politics
The civil war remains as one of the most significant events in the history of United States of America. The war that started in 1861 and ended in 1865 involved the union forces and the confederate states that were propagating for secession and the spread of slavery (Masur, 10). It was similar to the American revolution of 1776-1783 based on its contribution to the country’s sovereignty. While the revolution led to the declaration of independence, the civil war sought to resolve some of the fundamental issues that had not been dealt. What makes the civil war a crucial event is the fact that it resulted to the present day America in terms of unity of the states and the rights of all people as stipulated in the constitution. This paper seeks to take a deep analysis of the civil war touching on the issues and events that sparked it.
There were many issues that were revolving around the politics of the northern and southern states. One important activity that had taken center stage in the first half of the 19th century was slavery. The issue of slavery had contributed to major rifts and differing opinions between the highly industrialized north and the south that mainly depended on plantation agriculture driven by slave labor. These uncompromising differences led to each side supporting their stand by all means while trading accusations. The north claimed that slave labor was contrary to the citizen rights accorded by the constitution and was crippling the economy by inhibiting innovations while the south held firmly that the constitution gave citizens the right to own property and slaves were part of their possessions (Perman & Taylor, 128). The north therefore sought to stop the southerners move to spread slavery to territories that had not been declared as states.
Abraham Lincoln was vocal on the issue of slavery with his stand being that of containment. He had stated that his administration could not withstand the permanently free status in some states and slavery on others and, therefore, pledged to keep slavery out of the territories when elected as president. During the 1861 election, Lincoln garnered forty percent of the popular votes and 180 out of the possible 303 electoral votes becoming the first republican to be elected as the president of United States of America. unhappy with the results, the southern states led by South Carolina opted to secede from the union before the inauguration of the new president and were later joined by six more states that together formed a federal government of the Confederate States of America (Stern, 204). The Lincoln’s administration refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the secession as doing so would have led to the disintegration of the whole country.
The confederate states took over a number of forts that fell within their borders with no resistance from the outgoing president, James Buchanan. However, actual encounters began on 12th of April 1861 when confederate forces opened fire at US forces in fort Sumter forcing them to surrender and lower the United States flag. They were seeking to capture this strategic area in Charleston bay because of its barbettes which faced the sea and they felt belonged to them by mere fact of being in South Carolina (Wright, 21 & 22). However, this time they encountered resistance from the new administration as the president called for volunteer army to suppress the invasions of the confederate forces sparking the war that claimed the lives of more than 600 000 people (Bond, 135). This made four more southern states to leave the union and join the confederates. Confrontation ensued and by the end of that year more than one million soldiers were involved in a series of battles across the southern states and as stated by McPherson (75) men joined the war to safeguard the rights of their regions. One of them was Robert Lee who moved from being an American soldier to head the confederate’s forces arguing that he could not attack his homeland.
The encounter on the mountains of West Virginia near the Manassas junction resulted to the victory of the union forces and the formation of new state of West Virginia allied to the union. Other victories were at Wilson's Creek, Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and at Port Royal in Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina respectively where the union established camps that cut supplies to the south in a bid to suppress it.
What started as the use of limited force to restore the union of the States had by 1862 degenerated into a serious war. As Shar (17) points out, the battles of Fredericksburg, second Manassas and Gaines’ Mill in Virginia as well as the Antietam and Shiloh in Maryland and Tennessee respectively were more serious and fatal than any other encounter in the country. By this time the idea had changed into completely destroying the south in order to give way to the birth of a new union that was free from slavery. President Lincoln stated that the crisis had degenerated into a total war to destroy the old South’s institution of slavery and give the new birth of freedom. The confederates were hoping to get backing from the European countries in their bid to spread slavery because they were the biggest consumers of the slave produced cotton. Unluckily for them, no country recognized their sovereignty and therefore, no help could come from outside.
Despite the naval blockade that cut off supply to the south, the Robert E Lee led confederate army staved off invasive attacks from the union forces of the Potomac for three years. This was mainly because from 1862 to 1864 their opponents were led by ineffective generals. However, with the appointment of Ulysses S Grant as the general in chief and his entry in Virginia to head all the union forces’ activities in the frontier changed everything in 1864. It took him less than twelve months to conclude the invasion with what remains as the bloodiest encounters which culminated in the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. His surrender was preceded by a number of deadly attacks in places like Cold Harbor, The Wilderness, Petersburg and Spotsylvania.
All union forces achieved great strides in the battle fields west of the Appalachian Mountains with the forces led by General George Thomas destroying confederate’s army bases along the Tennessee region in the battle of Nashville. On the other hand, the troops led by General William Tecumseh Sherman swept the entire states of Georgia and South Carolina advancing to the interior of the confederate region in what was to become the final invasion. This was followed by the surrender of all the confederate forces and later the capture of the fleeing Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the confederate states of America ending the war and starting the period of new reformation (Franklin & Fitzgerald, 119).
The American civil war was an important event in the history of the country as it brought a new beginning in terms of civil right and governance. While it was sparked by issues revolving around slavery which was rampant in the southern states which depended on agriculture, there were many other issues that led to the start of the deadly encounter such as the southern states refusal to concede defeat and adopt change. The encounter succeeded in abolishing slavery and the country remained united.
*Bond, James. No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Portsmouth: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997. Print
*Franklin, John and Fitzgerald, Michael Reconstruction after the Civil War, Third Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. Print
Marsico, Katie. Great Battles of the Civil War. London: Britannica Digital Learning, 2013. Print
*Masur, Louis. The Civil War: A Concise History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print
*McPherson, James. “A Brief Overview of the American Civil War: A Defining Time in Our Nation's History.” Civil War Trust. Retrieved from http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/overview.html
*McPherson, James. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print
Perman, Michael and Taylor, Amy. Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction: Documents and Essays. New York: Cengage learning, 2010. Print
*Shar, Ruchir. The Civil War. Barrington: EZ Comic, 2007. Print
Stern, Phillip. Secret Missions of the Civil War. New Orleans: Garrett County Press, 2012. Print
Wright, John. The Language of the Civil War. Portsmouth: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. Print