After posting about the Confederate flag, it basically seem that I have no choice but to do a write up on the war that birthed this controversial symbol. As I researched this war I actually questioned if I didn’t really pay attention in school when we covered the Civil War. This was a seriously intense conflict, not to say that no war isn’t. Yet within the history of our nation, this one was the most heart wrenching one. I could see how it could bring deep emotional reactions to the decedents of this war, especially in the south. (I’ll touch on this later.) It truly showed how hugely this county was divided.
Let me start by stating that I was born and raised in the North. I feel that this is important to mention this because I notice that to most northern’s don’t have such strong emotions attached to this war like the southern’s. If they are I haven’t met them in my life yet. First I have to bring up that the Confederate States were the underdog in this war. The confederate Stated consisted of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. While the Union States consisted of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, massenchesuts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Later on in the war the Union States were joined by Nevada and West Virginia. Outnumbered much! To be honest it’s a wonder that the war lasted for five years with the Confederate States being so outnumbered. Keep in mind how densely populated the union states were also. That in mind let’s take a peek at some key points of this war.
The Civil War was fought from 1861 – 1865. Despite the argument that the civil war was fought due to a debate about slavery. Although it was a reason there were other factors that ignited this war. Granted the continued undertone was slavery but let’s look at the issue of states’ rights. This was an issue for statesmen that traveled between different states basically for business and at times personal use. The members of the Confederate states wanted to maintain their rights from their originating states as they traveled to states that may have laws that differ. Yes, it did have a lot to do with the ability to maintain their rights to keep their slaves as the traveled with them. Yet keep in the mind of the southern slave owner, it was a matter of maintaining their rights. I know how ironic. Due to this particular debate there was serious talk of the southern states seceding from the already established United States.
Another factor that assisted with the ignition of this war, were the cultural difference between the north and south. These cultural difference seeped into the primary reason for the south’s serious consideration to secede. As they felt their basic rights as citizens were being violated.
A major reason for this war was also cotton. That was the money making product and the south was a huge manufacture of it. Looking at the ecomics of that time, it appeared that the south was the financial sustainer of the country basically.
Now let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Yes! Slavery was one of the issues that helped ignite this war as well. The union state wanted to abolish slavery completely, while the south was oppose to this notion. Slaves were basically free labor for them. By bringing up the idea of abolishing slavery, the north was basically threatening the south’s cash flow. During this debate certain people from the north would make their way to south and try to incite the slaves to revolt. This action didn’t sit well with the southern so close to the Haitian Massacre of 1809. They would whisper to each other saying “Remember the horrors of St. Domingo!” Which automatically incited fear and panic throughout the southern occupants.
Just to give a little background on this particular incident. In 1804, after the slaves of Haiti won their independence form their French slave masters. Jean-Jacques Desdines ordered the black population to kill the remaining white population of French Creole. From February 1804 to April 22 1804, every man, woman and child of French descent was killed. The only survivors were the Polish soldiers who deserted the French bring, a small group of German colonist that settled in the Northwest part of the country before the revolution and a few physicians. So one could see how inciting the slaves would bring some concern to the southern slave owners.
The straw that broke the camels back for the south was the election of Abraham Lincoln who sided with the values and concerns of the north. The moment his victory was announced South Carolina seceded from the United States. As the rest of the Confederate States seceded they appointed Jefferson Davise as the president of the Confederate Union. And the civil war began.
Liked mentioned earlier, this was a brutal and long war for that time. And by the reactions that still occur when symbols of this war pop up, we are still feeling the aftermath. Some of its good and some of it no so good. I understand the feeling of southern pride. They did stand up to the government where most wouldn’t. They believed in their hearts that they were being denied their voice within the government. They refused to be treated that way and they took action. They stood by their principals. That can’t be taken away.
This war was unique in this country because you had families on opposite end of the battlefield, fighting each other due to these difference in views. This war may have brought the country together but it split many families apart. Looking at the reactions that are occurring today, it’s still causing division among the people.
Links for some background: