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Example research essay topic: Civil War Began United States Constitution - 3,650 words

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The South, which was known as the Confederate States of America, seceded from the North, which was also known as the Union, for many different reasons. The reason they wanted to succeed was because there was four decades of great sectional conflict between the two. Between the North and South there were deep economic, social, and political differences. The South wanted to become an independent nation. There were many reasons why the South wanted to succeed but the main reason had to do with the Norths view on slavery. All of this was basically a different interpretation of the United States Constitution on both sides.

In the end all of these disagreements on both sides led to the Civil War, in which the North won. There were a few reasons other then the slavery issue, that the South disagreed on and that persuaded them to succeed from the Union. Basically the North favored a loose interpretation of the United States Constitution. They wanted to grant the federal government increased powers. The South wanted to reserve all undefined powers to the individual states.

The North also wanted internal improvements sponsored by the federal government. This was more roads, railroads, and canals. The South, on the other hand, did not want these projects to be done at all. Also the North wanted to develop a tariff. With a high tariff, it protected the Northern manufacturer. It was bad for the South because a high tariff would not let the south trade its cotton for foreign goods.

The North also wanted a good banking and currency system and federal subsidies for shipping and internal improvements. The South felt these were discriminatory and that they favored Northern commercial interests. Now the main reason for the Souths secession was the Slavery issue. Basically the South wanted and needed it and the North did not want it at all.

The South was going to do anything they could to keep it. This was the issue that overshadowed all others. At this time the labor force in the South had about 4 million slaves. These slaves were very valuable to the slaveholding planter class. They were a huge investment to Southerners and if taken away, could mean massive losses to everyone. Slaves were used in the South as helpers in the fields in the cultivation of tobacco, rice, and indigo, as well as many other jobs.

The South especially needed more slaves at this time because they were now growing more cotton then ever because of the invention of the cotton gin. Cotton production with slaves jumped from 178, 000 bales in 1810 to over 3, 841, 000 bales in 1860. Within that time period of 50 years the number slaves also rose from about 1, 190, 000 to over 4, 000, 000. The plantation owners in the South could not understand why the North wanted slavery abolished that bad.

Southerners compared it with the wage-slave system of the North. They said that the slaves were better cared for then the free factory workers in the North. Southerners said that slave owners provided shelter, food, care, and regulation for a race unable to compete in the modern world without proper training. Many Southern preachers proclaimed that slavery was sanctioned in the Bible. But after the American Revolution slavery really died it the North, just as it was becoming more popular in the South.

By the time of 1804 seven of the northern most states had abolished slavery. During this time a surge of democratic reform swept the North and West. There were demands for political equality and economic and social advances. The Northerners goals were free public education, better salaries and working conditions for workers, rights for women, and better treatment for criminals.

The South felt these views were not important. All of these views eventually led to an attack on the slavery system in the South, and showed opposition to its spread into whatever new territories that were acquired. Northerners said that slavery revoked the human right of being a free person. Now with all these views the North set out on its quest for the complete abolition of slavery. When new territories became available in the West the South wanted to expand and use slavery in the newly acquired territories. But the North opposed to this and wanted to stop the extension of slavery into new territories.

The North wanted to limit the number of slave states in the Union. But many Southerners felt that a government dominated by free states could endanger existing slaveholdings. The South wanted to protect their states rights. The first evidence of the Norths actions came in 1819 when Missouri asked to be admitted to the Union as a slave state. After months of discussion Congress passed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This compromise was legislative measures that regulated the extension of slavery in the United States for three decades.

Now the balance of 11 free states and 11 slave states was in trouble. Maine also applied for statehood in 1819, in which it was admitted as a free state. To please the South, slavery would be prohibited forever from Louisiana Purchase territories north of 36. 30. Southern extremists opposed any limit on the extension of slavery, but settled for now. Missouri and Maine were to enter statehood simultaneously to preserve sectional equality in the Senate. For almost a generation this Compromise seemed to settle the conflict between the North and South.

But in 1848 the Union acquired a huge piece of territory from Mexico. This opened new opportunities for the spread of slavery for Southerners. But the distribution of these lands in small lots speeded the development of this section, but it was disliked in the South because it aided the free farmer than the slaveholding plantation owner. So now Congress passed the Compromise Measures of 1850 during August of 1850. It dealt mainly with the question of whether slavery was to be allowed or prohibited in the regions acquired from Mexico as a result of the Mexican War.

This compromise allowed abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia and admission of California as a free state. Another par t of the compromise was the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which provided for the return of runaway slaves to their masters. But many free states in the Union passed personal liberty laws in an effort to help the slaves escape. Many Northerners set up underground railroads where the runaway slaves could hide and get food and be directed to Canada for freedom.

This angered many Southerners. This compromise also said that the territory east of California given to the United States by Mexico was divided into the territories of New Mexico and Utah, and they were opened to settlement by both slaveholders and antislavery settlers. This measure outdated the Missouri Compromise of 1820. All these compromise measures resulted in a gradual intensification of the hostility between the slave and free states. Again another law was passed in 1854. It was called the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

It authorized the creation of Kansas and Nebraska, west of Missouri and Iowa and divided by the 40 th parallel. It repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that had prohibited slavery in the territories north of 36. 30, and stated that the inhabitants of the territories should decide for themselves the legality of slaveholding. This act was sponsored by the Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois.

He hoped to simplify construction of a transcontinental railroad through these states rather than through the southern part of the country. The removal of the restriction on the expansion of slavery ensured southern support for the bill, which was signed into law by President Franklin Pierce on May 30, 1854. This act split the Democratic party and destroyed the Whig party also. The northern Whigs joined antislavery Democrats to form the Republican party in July 1854.

A conflict developed in Kansas between proslavery settlers from Missouri and antislavery newcomers who began to move into the territory from the northeastern states. This was what known as Bleeding Kansas. There were also many people in the North known as abolitionist s who made the South look very bad. The abolitionists played a major role in shaping the views of many Northerners. These people were fully against slavery and its expansion and most of the time took matters into their own hands to get their point across. Some of the most famous abolitionists were William Lloyd Garrison of Boston, Wendell Phillips, who in 1836 gave up his law practice because he couldnt support the United States Constitution, James G.

Birney of Ohio who gathered all anti-slavery forces into one unit called the Liberty Party and Frederick Douglass, who was an escaped slave who became a black editor. The last main conflict that led to succession was during the presidential election of 1860. The newly formed Republican party nominated Abraham Lincoln on principles that opposed the further expansion of slavery. Now with Lincoln being elected the South really felt that expansionism was being threatened, and because expansion was vital to the survival of slavery they also felt their way of life was being threatened. Because slavery was such a important part of Southern society, the South felt that they could not survive without it.

Now they felt there was nothing more they could do. They were convinced that they should make a bid for independence by succeeding rather then face political encirclement. It was all described when a Southern man said We have at last reached that point in our history when it is necessary for the South to withdraw from the Union. This has not been our seeking but we are bound to accept it for self-preservation. This was officially the end and now the South wanted to succeed. Lincoln said that succession was illegal and said that he intended to maintain federal possessions in the South.

Southerners hoped the threat of succession would force acceptance of Southern demands, but it did not. Finally the day came on Dec. 20, 1860 when South Carolina adopted an ordinance of succession. The other states to follow and succeed were: Mississippi on Jan 9, 1861, Florida on January 10, Alabama on Jan 11, Georgia on January 19, Louisiana on January 26, and Texas on February 1. On February 4 delegates from all these states met in Montgomery, Alabama where they drafted a constitution for the Confederate States of America. This outraged the North and what was led to the Civil War. Many different efforts were made to save the Union and prevent a war.

James Buchanan believed the Constitution did not allow the North to take any action against the South. An effort was made on February 4 th by the Virginia Legislature who called a conference of the states at Washington D. C. Representatives were sent from 7 slave and 14 free states. An amendment was passed saying Congress could never interfere with slavery in the states. But it was not ratified by the necessary number of states and was forgotten when the Civil War began The existence of slavery was the central element of the conflict between the North and South.

Other problems existed that led to succession but none were as big as the slavery issue. The only way to avoid the war was to abolish slavery but this was not able to be done because slavery is what kept the South running. But when the South seceded it was said by Abraham Lincoln that A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. Because slavery formed two opposing societies, and slavery could never be abolished, the Civil War was inevitable. In February of 1861, When President Buchanan Lincolns predecessor refused to surrender southern federal forts to the seceding states, southern state troops seized them.

At Fort Sumter, South Carolina troops repulsed a supply ship trying to reach federal forces based in the fort. The ship was forced to return to New York, its supplies undelivered. At Lincolns inauguration on March 4, the new president said he had no plans to end slavery in those states where it already existed, but he also said he would not accept secession. He hoped to resolve the national crisis without warfare. When President Lincoln planned to send supplies to Fort Sumter, he alerted the state in advance, in an attempt to avoid hostilities.

South Carolina, however, feared a trick; the commander of the fort, Robert Anderson, was asked to surrender immediately. Anderson offered to surrender, but only after he had exhausted his supplies. His offer was rejected, and on April 12, the Civil War began with shots fired on the fort. Fort Sumter eventually was surrendered to South Carolina. The attack on Fort Sumter prompted four more states to join the Confederacy. With Virginias secession, Richmond was named the Confederate capitol.

Residents of the western counties of Virginia did not wish to secede along with the rest of the state. This section of Virginia was admitted into the Union as the state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. Despite their acceptance of slavery, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri did not join the Confederacy. Although divided in their loyalties, a combination of political maneuvering and Union military pressure kept these states from seceding. On January 27, 1862 President Lincoln issued a war order authorizing the Union to launch a unified aggressive action against the Confederacy.

In an effort to placate the slave-holding border states, Lincoln resisted the demands of radical Republicans for complete abolition. Yet some Union generals, such as General B. F. Butler, declared slaves escaping to their lines contraband of war, not to be returned to their masters. Other generals decreed that the slaves of men rebelling against the Union were to be considered free. Congress, too, had been moving toward abolition.

In 1861, Congress had passed an act stating that all slaves employed against the Union were to be considered free. In 1862, another act stated that all slaves of men who supported the Confederacy were to be considered free. Lincoln, aware of the publics growing support of abolition, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that all slaves in areas still in rebellion were, in the eyes of the federal government, free. In January of 1865 Transportation problems and successful blockades caused severe shortages of food and supplies in the South. Starving soldiers began to desert Lees forces, and although President Jefferson Davis approved the arming of slaves as a means of augmenting the shrinking army, the measure was never put into effect. In February of 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis agreed to send delegates to a peace conference with President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward, but insisted on Lincolns recognition of the Souths independence as a prerequisite.

Lincoln refused, and the conference never occurred. On April 14, as President Lincoln was watching a performance of Our American Cousin at Fords Theater in Washington, D. C. , he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, an actor from Maryland obsessed with avenging the Confederate defeat. Lincoln died the next morning. Booth escaped to Virginia.

Eleven days later, cornered in a burning barn, Booth was fatally shot by a Union soldier. Nine other people were involved in the assassination; four were hanged, four imprisoned, and one acquitted. Finally, Remaining Confederate troops were defeated between the end of April and the end of May of 1865. Jefferson Davis was captured in Georgia on May 10. The 10 year period following the Civil War is referred to in United States history as Reconstruction. This was a time of political, social and economic rebuilding in the South.

Whole regions of the south had been devastated by the war. The Cotton Kingdom had died, and major cities had been destroyed. Now the people had to rebuild. President Lincoln did not believe in secession, and felt things should be restored to normal as soon as possible after the war. As early as 1863, he began to formulate a plan to put the country back together.

Lincolns plan for restoration was called the Ten Percent Plan. All a former Confederate state had to do was abolish slavery, have ten percent of its voters subscribe to the oath of allegiance and form a government loyal to the Union. Three-fourths of the wealth in Georgia had disappeared. Slaves worth $ 272, 000, 000 were set free. Money, bonds and stocks were worthless. Forty thousand citizens were dead or gone, and cities and the countryside lay in waste.

The dream of an independent nation was gone. In October 1865, a Georgia convention abolished the act of secession, slavery and the war debt. The last formal link with the Confederacy was broken. With their duties at the convention completed, most delegates saw no reason why they should not look forward to gradual rehabilitation. They could not have foreseen the political and economic upheaval ahead.

People were wearing patched and ragged clothing, and their lives were incredibly difficult. The Freedman's Bureau offered economic relief to freed slaves and provided them with hospitals and schools. In the winter of 1865 - 66 the Bureau also assisted poor whites, especially widows and orphans. In April of 1866, President Andrew Johnson proclaimed peace restored. Comments at the time indicate that Georgia citizens were ready to bury past differences and accept reconstruction. However, the North was angered by Georgias rejection of the 14 th Amendment which guaranteed civil rights and citizenship for freed slaves.

Georgia was thus divided into eight military districts with army posts in each district. Under the supervision of the military, an election for governor of Georgia took place in April 1868. A Radical Republican was elected, and military authority in the state was withdrawn. However, Georgia was placed under military control again in December 1869 after it refused to ratify or accept the 15 th Amendment which guaranteed free slaves the right to vote. The legislature relented in January 1870 and accepted the amendment. Once again, direct military control ended.

The traditional leaders of Georgia gradually began to regain control of state politics, and a Democrat was elected governor in 1872. Reconstruction reunited the North and South, ended slavery and made giant steps in the protection of the rights of all citizens. But Reconstruction failed to bind the races together. True societal harmony is still a dream. However, the measures begun with Reconstruction abolition of slavery, education opportunities for minority citizens, voting rights, etc. helped people work toward common goals.

Leading up to reconstruction, the Civil War was a completely tragic event. Just think, a war in which thousands of Americans died in their home country over nothing more than a difference in opinion. Yes, slavery was one of the major causes of the Civil War: half of the country thought it was wrong and the other half just couldnt let them go. The war was fought overall in probably 10, 000 different places and the monetary and property loss cannot be calculated.

The Union dead numbered 360, 222 and only 110, 000 of them died in battle. Confederate dead were estimated at 258, 000 including 94, 000 who actually died on the field of battle. If the south did not succeed, slavery might have lasted longer and freedom to the black race may have come at a different point in time. Congress needed a 2 / 3 majority vote before it could pass an amendment overruling slavery. At the time slave states were much too powerful in the south and controlled much power in congress to allow the north to abolish it.

In a sense it is good that the Civil War occurred and that it did lead to the abolishment of slavery. It freed a race of people and solidified the meaning of the constitution. Perhaps the Civil War set standards for the beliefs of this nation. Today everyone is an equal human being regardless of color, gender, sexual belief, or religious preference.

Individual freedom thrives in every person and brings the uniqueness of power that the United States offers to the forefront of every individual in this nation. Before its first centennial, tragedy struck a new country and stained it for eternity. It will never be forgotten but adversity builds strength and the United States of America is now a much stronger nation. The Civil war time period, as well as that of reconstruction, was filled with political changes in the United States. The war had aroused the democratic spirit of the nation, and had so aroused a good deal of legislation to improve the equality of all people. Post-war times brought forth the nationalistic spirit of the nation, proving once and for all that this Union was indeed, indivisible under God.

The lust for power and justice during reconstruction caused the fight between the executive and legislative branches, a fight that was not completely resolved. These changes, both good and bad, made the Union the United States once again. a... nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. It has been the United States ever since. BIBLIOGRAPHY The Civil War, Groliers Encyclopedia, 1995.

Cotton, Bruce. , A Stillness at Appomattox. New York: Doubleday, 1963. Foote, Shelby. , The Civil War, Vol. 3. New York: Random, 1974. Garraty, John Arthur, The American Nation: A History of the United states to 1877, Vol. 1, Eighth Edition. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995.

Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1881 Korn, Jerry, Pursuit to Appomattox, The Last Battles. Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1987. Michael Holt. The Political Crisis of the 1850 s.

New York: Wiley, 1978. Miers, Earl Schenck, The Last Campaign. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co. , 1972.


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