A Summary Of The Civil War Essay

, Research Paper

The 1800’s were a tumultuous time for the United States of America. At that time

the south was typically slave and the northerners were traditionally for freedom. The

slave states of the south and the abolitionist in the north were quarreling and the

government recognizing that made efforts to stop or delay the civil war. In 1819 Missouri

wanted to enter the Union a slave state. At this time the 22 states of the Union were

divided evenly 11 slave and 11 free. Northern states were afraid that if Missouri entered

as a slave state it would give the south a majority in the senate. Southerners argued that

since the north had a majority in the House of Representatives that it was only fair that

they had a majority in the senate. Then in December 1819 three northern counties of

Massachusetts broke away and asked to be admitted to enter the Union as a free

state(Maine). This made the Missouri Compromise possible. The Missouri compromise

said that Missouri would be a slave state and Maine would be admitted

as a free state, it also said that any state in the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri’s

southern border would be a free state. This action delayed a deadly confrontation

between the North and the South, at least for awhile.

Then in 1828 congress raised the tariff on imported goods. In the south they didn’t

have very much industry so they had to import most of their good, so the tariffs were

unpopular their. One state that protested this action by congress. Since the North had

more industry, the South felt that congress was protecting the North by raising these

tariffs. South Carolina was the strongest protester of these tariffs. South Carolina

supported John C. Calhoun who said that a state could nullify or veto a national law

within it’s own boundaries. In 1832 South Carolina’s state legislature declared the tariff

acts of 1828 and 1832 null or void. They went even further by saying that if the

government tried to make them pay the tariff they would break away from the union.

Then President Andrew Jackson, who had said that the union must be preserved,

stated that he strongly opposed this nullification. Jackson also let it be know that he

would send 50,000 troops into South Carolina. This action scared South Carolina, and

when they asked other states for help they got no promises of military aid. Finally seeing

that his state was in bad shape John C. Calhoun asked Henry Clay to help him come up

with compromise. They came up with a law that would lower tariff annually over a 10

year period until they were satisfactory.

After the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis were dealt with things

were relatively quiet for awhile. Then in 1850 California requested admission to the union

as a free state. California was the first state applying for state hood in the Mexican

Cession. Southerners feared if California was a free state the rest of the territory would be

too. Northerners felt they had to stop the spread of slavery to end it altogether.

Then came another attempt to resolve the conflicts between the North and the

South. In January of 1850 Senator Henry Clay proposed a plan. His plan was divided

into six parts. The first part was that California would be admitted to the Union as a non-

slave state. The second part was that Utah and New Mexico could decide if they wanted

to be slave states of free states when they applied for statehood. The third and Fourth

parts were tied into each other, the third part was that Land in dispute between New

Mexico and Texas would go to New Mexico and for giving up this land Texas would

receive 10 million dollars. The fifth part was that buying and selling of slaves but not

slavery wouldn’t be allowed in the District of Columbia. The sixth and final part was that

congress would enforce a law stating that runaway slaves must be returned to their

owners. The bill was passed section by section until it became law. This again delayed

the inevitable.

Slavery: Slavery was one of the issues that the northerners and the southerners

fought about. In the south the main way of life was agriculture, the main cash crop was

cotton. Cotton was a labor consuming crop, it would cost a man a fortune to pay people

to work for him. Slaves were the answer to this problem.

Slave owners didn’t see the slaves as people he saw him as property. Slaves were

treated bad. Even the owners who saw themselves as fair still treated their slaves as dogs.

They were regularly beaten, they worked from dawn till dark for free.

This unfair treatment was a reason why many slaves wanted to escape, or runaway

from their masters to free states where they would be free. One way they escaped was the

underground railroad. It was called the underground railroad because it was secret and

the slaves were hidden at secret “stations” along the way, the people who guided the

escaping slaves were called conductors. One famous conductor was Harriet Tubman. She

guided many many slaves to freedom.

Another famous slave was Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a slave who had been

taken to Illinois, a free state, then to the Wisconsin territory where slavery was outlawed

by the Missouri compromise. He was then returned to Missouri by his master. Dred

Scott then sued his masters widow for his freedom saying that it was illegal to be taken to

a free state then taken back into slavery. The supreme court decided that slaves weren’t

citizens so they didn’t have the right to sue. The supreme court also decided that slaves

were property, and the bill of rights protected property therefore congress couldn’t outlaw

slavery in any of the territories.

This decision in the Dred Scott case pleased many southerners they felt that now

the new states would now be able to choose to be slave states. The decision angered

many northerners they felt that slaves were more than property and felt that this ruling was


In 1854 there was a bill that formed two territories in the Louisiana Purchase,

these states were Kansas and Nebraska. The bill also said that even though these

territories were north of the anti-slavery line the people of the territory would have a

chance to vote whether to be free or slave.

This bill would allow southerners to try and add another slave state to the Union.

Pro slavery people started moving into the Kansas territory. The state of Missouri started

recruiting settler who were for slavery and sent them to settle in the new territories. In

1855 people from Missouri crossed the border and voted illegally. The legislature in

Kansas started making pro-slavery laws. This angered the anti-slavery people so they

formed their own government. With two governments fighting for control law and order

broke apart. People started fighting and bloodshed took place this it became known as

Bleeding Kansas. There were raids and murders. One group pro-slavery group destroyed

the town of Lawrence and the antislavery newspaper there. As a rebuttal to this act an

abolitionist from Ohio named John Brown and his sons murdered five pro-slavery

activists, in Pottawatomie Creek.

John Brown was a fanatical abolitionists after this massacre in Pottawatomie he

moved east. He was financially supported there by other abolitionists. On October 16,

1859 Brown led a group of 18 men in a raid to take the government arsenal at Harpers

Ferry, VA. They wanted to take the guns here then they hoped that slaves in the area

would rebel and come and get the guns. Marines surrounded them. When Brown

wouldn’t surrender the Marines stormed him and captured him. He was convicted of

treason and sentenced to death.

Another Famous Abolitionist was Harriet Beecher Stowe. She wrote the famous

book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was a book about the way slaves were treated. At this time

many northerners had never even seen a black person so many opinions of slavery were

formed from this book. Uncle Tom’s Cabin made many people who could have cared less

about slavery become abolitionists hard core.


Brown, Richars; Bass, Herbert. One Flag, One Land. Silver, Burdett and

Ginn. Morristown, NJ. 1988

Allen, Thomas B. The Blue and The Gray. The National Georgraphic

Society. Washington D.C. 1992.

Abraham Lincoln: On Feb. 12, 1809 in a log cabin in Illinois Abraham Lincoln

was born. At the age of six Abraham and his sister walked “up the road a piece”(2 miles

each way) to go to school. He learned the three R’s, he liked writing and said that

practiced “anywhere and everywhere that lines could be drawn”. In 1816 the Lincolns

moved to backwoods Indiana. In 1818 Abe’s mother died. It only took one year for Abe’s

father to see that the family needed a mother so he went to town and married himself a

widow named Sara Bush Johnston. Abe and his sister learned to love their new mother.

She helped everyone in the family. Most of all she helped Abraham. Seeing how eager he

was to learn, she encouraged him to study. He later said “She was the best friend I ever

had…All that I am, I owe to my angel mother.” All of his schooling equaled less than a

year but he made up for that by reading. He was a crazy reading fool.

When Abe was the owner of the country store hired him to take a flat boat to New

Orleans. This was his first chance to see the outside world. Abe traveled 1,000 miles to

New Orleans, this is where Lincoln got his first taste of slavery. He didn’t like the seeing

the slave gangs in chains being taken to the plantations. He later said “Slavery is a

constant torment to me.”

When Abe was 21 he decided he was ready to live on his own. So when his father

moved he stayed and decide to go to New Orleans again. When he returned he worked as

a clerk in the town store. This is where stories about his honesty first started, people said

that he once walked six miles just to give back a few pennies to a woman who had paid

too much for groceries. People knew that they would get a fair deal when doing business

with “honest Abe”.

In 1832 he enrolled in the Black Hawk war. Lincoln was elected as captain of his

rifle company. This was an honor to him but he knew nothing of military life. During the

war he never saw any action but he did experience the hardships of military life. These

experiences gave him sympathy for the soldiers fighting for him during the civil war.

After the war the store he was running in New Salem didn’t work out. So he

bought another one with William Berry on credit. Months later Berry died leaving Lincoln

in debt $1,000. It took him years to pay it off. In 1833 Abe took an appointment as

deputy county surveyor. He had to learn how to survey though. He studied all day and

sometimes all night, and learned to survey in six weeks.

In 1834 he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He was reelected in

1836, 1838, 1840. During this time Abe was determined to become a lawyer, so he

borrowed the law books and studied them. Many times he would walk 20 miles just to

return one and get another. On September 9, 1839 he received his law license. In

1837 he moved to Springfield he was dirt poor. So poor, that he couldn’t even afford to

buy sheets for his bed. The storekeeper felt so sorry for him he asked Abe to share his


by 1839 Lincoln had established himself as a lawyer in Springfield. At this time he

met Mary Todd. She was also being courted by a man named Stephen A. Douglas.

Mary’s parents wanted her to marry Douglas, but she wanted Lincoln. She predicted that

someday he would be president of the United States of America. On February 4, 1842

they were married.

In 1847 he went to Washington D.C. to represent Illinois. At this time the

Mexican war was going. Lincoln antiwar speeches displeased his supporter and he knew

he wouldn’t be reelected. In 1849 he went back to ght Lincoln back into politics. This

act allowed states to decide whether or not they wanted to be slave or free. This would

allow slavery to spread and Abe didn’t like that idea. He began giving speeches against

this act. In 1856 he helped to organize the Illinois branch of new Republicans. A party

formed by people wanting to stop the spread of slavery. IN 1858 Lincoln was the

Republican nomination for senator from Illinois. When he addressed the state convention

he said “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot

endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I

do not expect the house to fall-but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become

all one thing, or all the other.” Lincolns opponent was S

tephen A. Douglas. Lincoln and Douglas had a bunch of debates on the slavery issue.

Lincoln won this election, but the debates had raised the public oppinion of LIncoln.

His friends saw that people liked him and worked to get the Repulican nomination

in 1860. LIncoln now saw that he wanted to be president. Lincoln was nominated As the

Republican candidate. The democratic party was devided with the North wanting Stephen

A. Douglas and the South wanting John C. Breckinridge. For his campaign Lincoln

stayed in Springfield. To avoid raising controversy and maybe dividing the party he didn’t

make any speeches. This worked nd he was elected as the first Republican president.

The election of Lincoln made southerners angry. They felt that a Republican

would not respect their rights. They believed that their only hope was to seceed from the

Union. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina became the first state to break away from

the Union.

When it came time for Abe to become inaugurated as the six-teenth president of

the United States. He had many threats against his life, none of them frightened him. He

wa saware that there was great danger for a man in his position during a crisis. The

election of 1860 was a major factor in starting the civil war. In his inaugural speech

LIncoln said that he would respect the rights of the south despite this the civil war began

six weeks later.

At the start of the Civil War it appeared that the south would have no chance of

winning. The north had more money more men they had the advantage. They had more

industry and other resources. These advantages were eventually used by general Grant to

win the war.

There were some advantages that the south had though. One was the type of war

they had to fight. They could stay on the defensive until the North found out they couldn’t

win. Another advantage was that Lincoln couldn’t find anyone to lead his army. He led

the army himself for awhile.


Brown, Richars; Bass, Herbert. One Flag, One Land. Silver, Burdett and

Ginn. Morristown, NJ. 1988

Allen, Thomas B. The Blue and The Gray. The National Georgraphic

Society. Washington D.C. 1992.

“Lincoln, Abraham”. Comptons Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. 1986.

Flato, Charles. The Golden Book of the Civil War. Golden Press. New York.


At the start of the war the Union decided that to win they would “strangle” the

confederate states. They came up with a plan called the anaconda plan, named for the

snake wich wraps itself around it’s victims and then suffocates them. This plan consisted

of four parts they were;

1) To block off the ports of trade of the south so they wouldn’t be able to trade to

get supplies.

2) They would take the Mississippi River Valley thus dividing the confederacy

into two parts.

3) To take the Tennessee river and then into Georgia and divide the confederacy

even more.

4) The final goal was to take the Confederate capitol of Richmond.

In July 1861 Gen. George B. McClellan had won some small victories. People

wanted them to take Richmond. So on July 16, 1861 General Irvin McDowell led Union

troops south towards Richmond. On the way the confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard

met them on the banks of the creek Bull Run. At first the Union troops were kicking butt.

Then they met a “StoneWall” a brigade commanded by a guy named General Thomas J.

Jackson, this earned him the name of stonewall Jackson. When reinforcements arrived the

Union troops began to retreat. At this point President Lincoln asked General McClellan

to train the troops more. It took him a year.

While these troop were training general U.S. Grant was winning battles in

Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1862 he took Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, when

the commander asked for the terms of surrender Grant told him there were none except

“Unconditional Surrender”. Then people started saying his initials stood for Unconditional


After taking Fort Donelson he marched his troop on almost to the border of

Mississippi. It was by Shilo that confederates launched a surprise attack on Grants forces.

The battle here lasted 2 days, it was counted as a Union victory but it cost Grant 13,000


These battles on land were very influential in the war, but one place that the Union

forces had during the war was the warfare at sea. Because they did not have any

resources for building ships the Confederates didn’t have any large ships to challenge the

Union boats. This allowed the North to cut off all southern ports of trade without any

reistance from sea. The only thing the confederates had was ships called Confederate

raiders. One famous confederate ship was the Alabama in it’s two years of service it sank

or captured 67 Union ships. It finally was sank by the U.S. Navy’s ship Kearsarge. The

two ships fought for more than an hour finally the Alabama went down.

In March 1862, the south captured a Union boat called the Merrimac. They turned

the Merrimac into and ironclad, they covered the sides and decks with 4 inches of iron.

This boat was renamed to the Virginia, it was to free the ports of Virginia by braking the

blockade. At first it was succesful it sank one ship by ramming it, and it scared all the

others away. Union cannonballs bounced harmlessly off. Then the next day another

ironclad called the Monitor sailed up to the Virginia, it was called the Monitor. The

Monitor was a ship theat the Union had a inventor build for them it had one difference

from the Virginia instead of fixed guns it had a rotating gun turret. For hours they fired at

eachother they fired until they ran out of ammo. Neither ship won the fight but afterwards

the Virginia had to go in to get repairs.

In July, 1862 Lincoln told his cabinet that he had decided to issue a proclamation

freeing the slaves. They told him to wait until the Union forces won and important

victory, otherwise it might look like an act of fear.

In september 1862 General Rober E. Lee, who had taken control of the

confederate army in an attack of Richmond, decided to attack Maryland. President

Lincoln put General McClellan ,who he had taken out of power, back in command to stop

this invasion. They fought a bloody battle at Antietam Creek. The invasion was stopped,

but the battle could only be counted as a draw. Thie results did have a good effect for the

North. If Lee would have won then Great Britain and France might have given the

confederates support.

The result also gave Lincoln the chance to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

He felt this was the victory his cabinet had advised him he needed. So on September 22,

1862 he said that if by January 1, 1863 he would free every slave in all of the rebel slave

states unless they rejoined the Union before that date. None of the states were going to

return so on New Years Day 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The

proclamation didn’t free any slaves because the slave states wouldn’t free them and the

border states didn’t have to free their slaves.

One thing that happened because of the Emancipation Proclamation helped the

Union. As they pushed into the south former slaves would join them. Over 100,000 black

people that used to be slaves joined them. Also the British people did not like slavery so

there was less chance that they would help the rebels.

During the war black had a very important role in the fighting. In the south blacks

weren’t allowed to fight. They weren’t allowed in the North for a time either, but after

Emancipation they were acceepted. About 200,000 balck men fought in the war, many of

them recieved medals for their duty.

In 1863 one of the most pivotal points of the civil war took place. By this point

the two main figures of the war were U.S. Grant and General Lee of Virginia. General

Lee decided to invade the North once again. He picked Pennsylvania, at this point he had

no chance for foreign aid, but he thought that if he won a major victory on Northern soil it

might change that fact. It would also lower northern confidence. Lastly his men needed

clothes, food, and other supplies. They could obtain these supplies in Pennsylvania In

June 1863 his army advanced into Pennsylvania.

The Union army of the potomac was also moving. They were trying to keep ahead

of confederate forces. They were led by General Goerge G. Meade.

Neither of the general was ready to fight a battle in early July, but on July 1 scout

unit of each army were marching along and almost by chance they ran into eachother. As

they fought both sides were rushing reinforcements as fast as they could. On the first day

the confederates pushed the Union soldiers back but by the end of the day thousands of

them had reached cemetary hill where they dug in for the defense. They were going to

make a last stand but they were not attacked. So during the night the union forces had the

chance to form a defensive line three and a half miles long. One mile away across and

open plane Lee placed his troops on Seminary Ridge. During the second day Lee tried to

break through the defenses and flank them.

On July 3 in the morning Confederate guns started firing Union guns fired back.

Then to conserve ammunition Meade ordered them to stop firing. Thinking he had his

chance Lee ordered a frontal attack. 15,000 soldiers marched almost as if on parade over

the half mile towards the Union forces. After a few hundred yards Union cannons lashed

out at them. Then musket fire began one soldier said it mowed them down like “wheat

before the scythe”. After that they were driven off by Union defendersd using ahything

they could, cannon rammers, sabers, clubbed rifles. This charhge was called Picketts

Charge even though he commanded only 15 of the 46 regiments taking part in the charge.

His division did suffer the biggest losses of his 5,000 soldiers only 800 returned. After this

being a wimp as usual Meade opted not to counter attack many say if he had the war

would have ended then and there. He didn’t though and allowed Lee and his men to

retreat back to Virginia in a wagon train 17 miles long.


Brown, Richars; Bass, Herbert. One Flag, One Land. Silver, Burdett and

Ginn. Morristown, NJ. 1988

Allen, Thomas B. The Blue and The Gray. The National Georgraphic

Society. Washington D.C. 1992.

At the end of the civil war General Lee and General Grant were running their

respective armies. There was one other general who was very influential in ending the

war, this war General William Tecumsah Sherman. He was a very brilliant general.

In the battle of Shilo Sherman fought right in the middle of the fight. He recieved

a rank of Major General for his fighting. In this battle General Grant made many mistakes

and got his butt kicked. Because of his mistakes he took much criticism and was going to

get out of the army, but Sherman talked him into staying.

After General Grant was given control fo the entire U.S. army Sherman was given

control of Grants old army. It was in this position that he made his famous March To The


On May 6, 1864 Sherman and his army left Chattanooga Tennessee for the city of

Atlanta. He reached Atlanta on September second, after he had cleared the city of it’s

people and he had his men rested he started his famous march to the sea. He cut himself

off from his supplies so his men lived on what they stole. what they didn’t steal they

burned and destroyed. It was 400 wiles from Atlanta to Savanah where his trek would

eventually end. There was a path 60 miles wide of destruction behind Sherman and his

men. It took 32 days to make this march, and for 32 days no one heard from them. Then

on december 20 he telegraphed LIncoln and gave him the city of Savanah as a christmas


In may 1864 General Grant ordered an attack on Richmond. The army of

Northern Virginia fought off the attacking soldiers. They fought many battles during a

short span of time. Both sides lost heavily, Grant lost 60,000 men in less than a month.

He knew though that he could handle these losses better than the confederacy. He was

still unable to capture Richmond, but instead of retreating like previous generals he

continued and went to the south of Richmond. Here he took over the railroad town of

Petersburg, and he took control of the roads leading into and out of the capitol. In the

Spring of 1865 Lee was forced to leave the city to save his army, then the Union troops

took control of the capital.

One week after that Lee’s troops who were tired, hungry and in need of many

supplies tried to break through the Union lines. They failed and were surrounded at

Appomatox Court House. There on April 9, 1865 they General Lee was forced to

surrender. After that all confederate resistance was crushed one by one.

On April 14, 1865 President Lincoln and his wife went to a performance of Our

American Cousin, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. This is when an actor named John

Wilkes Booth shot Lincon for revenge after the souths defeat in the war. At the same time

some of his friends were plotting to shoot other leaders but they failed. After he shot

Lincoln Booth escaped to Virginia but he was caught later. After the shooting Lincoln

was carried to a rooming house acrossed the street. He died the morning after the attack.

After the war was over the reconstruction began. The first part was to bring all

the states back into the Union. In 1863 Lincoln had come up with this plan. The first part

of this plan was that 10 percent of the men who had voted in the election of 1860 had to

swear and oath of loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. Once the 10 percent

had taken this oath they could then organize a government that would be recognized as

the government of that state by by the president.

After Lincoln’s assassination and Andrew Johnson became president he supported

the 10 percent plan, he did make some additions though. Each state had to undo their

secession acts. They could not pay off confederate war debts. They also had to pass the

thirteenth amednment wich outlawed slavery. By the fall of 1865 all 11 states had met the

requirements of the plan. They were now able to elect members to congress.

Congress did not like Johnsons plan they thought it was too easy. Southerners

were electing people that had been rebel leaders during the war and congress thought that

was not right. They felt that the south should be punished for what happend over the past

four years. Also the representatives elected by the south were democrats and this

threatened the republican majority of congress. The main opposition was a group called

radical republicans, they wanted to give former slaves all the freedoms of a regular citizen.

They knew that Johnsons plan wasn’t strict enough for this to happen. Under their plan

the southern states had to pass the fourteenth amendmant as well that said people born in

the U.S. are citizens and can’t be denied any right of a citizen. It also said that people who

had taken place in the rebellion could not take place in government.

President Johnson told the 11 states to not pass the fourteenth amendmant. He felt

that the part where rebel leaders couldn’t be elected was unfair. Only Tennesee ratified the

fourteenth amendmant. iN the elctions of 1866 republicans won the majority majorly, and

they wanted to make their own reconstruction bill. Johnson vetoed it but they overrode it

and on Mach 2, 1867 the Reconstruction Act of 1867 was passed.

This act said that until the states passed the fourteenth amendmant there would be

a general placed there and troops to carry out his orders. It also said that the troops could

stay until they felt the state was reconstructed.

After they had passed their own reconstruction plan the republicans tried to

impeach president Johnson. They felt they could easily get the 36 senate votes they would

need. The trial lasted from March 30 until May 16, 1868. There was only 35 votes to

impeach Johnson, only needing one more vote.

After the war many leaders in the south were what people called carpetbaggers.

Carpetbaggers were people from the North who came to the South after the war was

over. They were called carpetbaggers because many of them carried there belongings in

bags made out of carpets. Many carpetbaggers were in positions of power in the southrn

governments. Many of them wanted to help, but the majority was just out to make

money. Many southerners helped these people, and also gained positions of power.

These people were called scalawags, which is a mean, runty farm animal. These

carpetbaggers and scalawags s


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