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we will be focusing on the Civil War. Begin this assignment by…

we will be focusing on the Civil War. Begin this assignment by reading the mini-lecture page on the Civil War and the appropriate readings Then create a major post on the topic.

 

DO NOT USE ANY UNASSIGNED SOURCES 

DO NOT PLAGIARIZE 

 

Do the text readings and then create a major post that discusses the information you came across. Some ideas you might consider are; What were the motivations of the ordinary Civil War soldier? What was the war experience like for many soldiers? Did it differ between Northern and Southern soldiers? What ultimately contributed to the victory of US troops over the Army of the Confederacy? Consider discussing some of the key battles and strategies that led to the war’s conclusion.

  

 

 

Reading: The American Yawp, Chapter 14

https://www.americanyawp.com/text/wp-content/uploads/yawp_v1_open_pdf.pdf

 

 

 

 

The Civil War  mini lecture 

With Abraham Lincoln’s and the Republican party’s triumph in the Election of 1860, the state of South Carolina exercised what it considered its right to secede from the United States. Ultimately, ten other southern states would follow South Carolina and together they would form their own nation, the Confederate States of America. These southern states justified their actions under the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions drafted by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1798. These resolutions, created by the men who largely wrote the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, declared that state governments had ultimate sovereignty in their relationship with the federal government. Taking this a step further, the southern states decided that the federal union created by the Constitution was a failure and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, it was the right of the people to institute a new form of government to better ensure their prosperity. Southerners were convinced that the Republicans were dedicated to prohibiting slavery from spreading to the West, and thus, were also dedicated to making the South a weak region within the federal system that would be subject to the domination of pro-northern policies.

President Lincoln refused to accept the South’s reasoning. He framed the situation much like the British had responded to the Declaration of Independence in that secessionists were portrayed as only a minority of troublemakers within an otherwise loyal population. Legalistically, Lincoln argued that the union of the states was permanent and a state had no right to secede. Initially, Lincoln hoped to assuage southern fears by demonstrating he supported the Dred Scott decision and distancing himself from John Brown and abolitionists. He also tried to continue daily federal operations that ignored claims of southern independence and sovereignty. Neither strategy succeeded and by April 1861 the Confederacy and the United States began to exchange gunfire in an attempt to determine governmental control of the southern states thereby officially beginning what would be known as the Civil War.

It is important to note that President Lincoln and most northerners initially did not want to make this a war over ending slavery. Most northerners feared the consequences of slavery coming to an end due to images of free blacks fleeing the South and moving into northern communities. Lincoln merely wanted to preserve the United States and not be known as the president that let the US disintegrate. While southerners tried to portray the war as an issue over states’ rights, the real issue was slavery and the ability for it to be protected from northern political power. It was African Americans, both free and enslaved, that was the group dedicated to making the Civil War a final decision on the future of slavery in the United States. In one of the most inspiring stories in US history, and one that might not always get the emphasis it should, it was these Americans, perhaps at least legally the most powerless group in the country, that altered the direction of the Civil War and made it an event that was not focused on a technical Constitutional squabble over states versus federal rights, but rather one that would expand the ideas of individual freedom and liberty inherited from the Declaration of Independence.

Many in the North initially thought the war would end quickly, but these overly optimistic hopes were soon dashed by the first battles of the war. The technical changes that had allowed for increasing industrial production were now being used to develop a more sophisticated and lethal weaponry. As the battlefield casualties mounted, Americans began to realize that the Civil War was to be a lengthy war of attrition. More and more resources would be needed and soon every available man counted. Lincoln had hoped to avoid using black troops, but as the war moved on, their value became apparent. Another important development occurred when slaves began using the chaos of the war to make a break for freedom and fled to northern army camps. How would these runaways be treated? Realizing that runaways were hitting southerners where it hurt, the US Army declared the runaways “contraband” property confiscated during a state of war. The concept was obvious. By prolonging the war, the South was risking losing what it was fighting the war to protect. At the same time, enslaved Americans realized that by making a break for Union lines, their freedom was ensured. Ultimately about one million African Americans would become “contrabands.”

As the situation unfolded, President Lincoln decided to formalize the policy in 1862 with the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation did not “free the slaves.” Rather it warned southerners that if they didn’t stop the rebellion by January 1, 1863, all slaves in rebel territory would be declared free. It was designed to provide four months for the South to think about it and decide it would be more prudent to stop their independence movement. To paraphrase one historian, the Emancipation Proclamation “freed the slaves where it had no power to do so, and it didn’t free slaves where it had the power to.” However, as another historian has commented, “the unfree don’t bother reading the fine print.” The Emancipation Proclamation created high hopes to the American population bound into slavery and it created a moral tone to the Civil War that was previously lacking. When the Confederacy refused to surrender by New Year’s Day, it became obvious that the Civil War was now a war to end slavery.

There are many good reasons why the Civil War is one of the most studied events in American history as there are many fascinating stories and topics to explore. The military events are obviously compelling. Although some argue that a northern victory was inevitable given its advantage in population and industrial production, there is a strong counterargument. The South had several opportunities to gain its independence. One of the key events was the Battle of Gettysburg. A Confederate victory on northern soil could have not only demoralized northern support for the war, which was already strained, but also could have led to international recognition and support for the Confederacy. The key battle of Little Round Top on the second day of Gettysburg that was largely determined by the valor of the men of the 20th Maine is a stirring story of how a few individuals can find themselves in a place and time where their commitment and bravery would perhaps determine the destiny of a nation. Pickett’s Charge on the final day of the battle at Gettysburg epitomizes southern troops’ bravery and commitment, along with their ultimate frustrations and failure of leadership. You might also look at the overall strategy of the Union Army, known as the Anaconda Plan, that ultimately succeeded, but created enormous costs to human life and property. A few historians have also argued that had the presidents been reversed, the South would have won the war. The stories of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis are fascinating studies of men put in leadership positions in the most trying of times.

The Civil War would be the costliest war in American history until World War II. Over 600,000 men died in its battles, but this only begins the story of the devastation created by the war. While the Civil War determined that the union of the states would remain and that slavery did not have a future within the United States, it left many questions unanswered. Perhaps the most important question that lay ahead was that after such deep divisions, how does a nation make itself one again? A good general resource of links to a variety 

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