The Civil War And Its Ending Of

Slavery Essay, Research Paper

The Civil War and Its Ending of Slavery

This paper is about the civil war and about how it ended slavery with the

emancipation proclomation. I will also talk abou the physical loses of the war.

The South, overwhelmingly agricultural, produced cash crops such ascotton,

tobacco and sugarcane for export to the North or to Europe, but it depended on

the North for manufactures and for the financial and commercial services

essential to trade. Slaves were the largest single investment in the South, and

the fear of slave unrest ensured the loyalty of nonslaveholders to the economic

and social system.

To maintain peace between the Southern and Northern supporters in the

Democratic and Whig parties, political leaders tried to avoid the slavery

question. But with growing opposition in the North to the extension of slavery

into the new territories, evasion of the issue became increasingly difficult.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 temporarily settled the issue by establishing

the 36? 30′ parallel as the line separating free and slave territory in the

Louisiana Purchase. Conflict resumed, however, when the United States boundaries

were extended westward to the Pacific. The Compromise Measures of 1850 provided

for the admission of California as a free state and the organization of two new

territories?Utah and New Mexico?from the balance of the land acquired in the

Mexican War. The principle of popular sovereignty would be applied there,

permitting the territorial legislatures to decide the status of slavery when

they applied for statehood.

Despite the Compromise of 1850, conflict persisted. The South had become a

minority section, and its leaders viewed the actions of the U.S. Congress, over

which they had lost control, with growing concern. The Northeast demanded for

its industrial growth a protective tariff, federal subsidies for shipping and

internal improvements, and a sound banking and currency system. The Northwest

looked to Congress for free homesteads and federal aid for its roads and

waterways. The South, however, regarded such measures as discriminatory,

favoring Northern commercial interests, and it found the rise of antislavery

agitation in the North intolerable. Many free states, for example, passed

personal liberty laws in an effort to frustrate enforcement of the Fugitive

Slave Act .

The increasing frequency with which “free soilers,” politicians who argued

that no more slave states should be admitted to the Union, won elective office

in the North also worried Southerners. The issue of slavery expansion erupted

again in 1854, when Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois pushed through

Congress a bill establishing two new territories -Kansas and Nebraska -and

applying to both the principle of popular sovereignty. The Kansas-Nebraska Act,

by voiding the Missouri Compromise, produced a wave of protest in the North,

including the organization of the Republican party. Opposing any further

expansion of slavery, the new party became so strong in the North by 1856 that

it nearly elected its candidate, John C. Fremont, to the presidency. Meanwhile,

in the contest for control of Kansas, Democratic President James Buchanan asked

Congress to admit Kansas to the Union as a slave state, a proposal that

outraged Northerners. Adding to their anger, the U.S. Supreme Court, on March 7,

1857, ruled in the Dred Scott case that the U.S. Constitution gave Congress no

authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. Two years later, on October

16, 1859, John Brown, an uncompromising opponent of slavery, raided the federal

arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virgini , in an attempt to promote a general slave

uprising. That raid, along with Northern condemnation of the Dred Scott decision,

helped to convince Southerners of their growing insecurity within the Union.

In the presidential election of 1860, a split in Democratic party ranks

resulted in the nomination by the Southern wing of John C. Breckinridge of

Kentucky and the nomination by the Northern wing of Stephen Douglas. The newly

formed Constitutional Union party, reflecting the compromise sentiment still

strong in the border states, nominated John Bell of Tennessee. The Republicans

nominated Abraham Lincoln on a platform that opposed the further expansion of

slavery and endorsed a protective tariff, federal subsidies for internal

improvements, and a homestead act. The Democratic split virtually assured

Lincoln’s election, and this in turn convinced the South to make a bid for

independence rather than face political encirclement. By March 1861, when

Lincoln was inaugurated, seven states?South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida,

Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas?had adopted ordinances of secession, and

the Confederate States of America, with Jefferson Davis as president, had been


In his inaugural address, Lincoln held that secession was illegal and stated

that he intended to maintain federal possessions in the South. On April 12,

1861, when an attempt was made to resupply Fort Sumter, a federal installation

in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, Southern artillery opened fire.

Three days later, Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion. In

response, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee also joined the


Neither the North nor the South was prepared in 1861 to wage a war. With a

population of 22 million, the North had a greater military potential. The South

had a population of 9 million, but of that number, nearly 4 million were

enslaved blacks whose loyalty to the Confederate cause was always in doubt.

Although they initially relied on volunteers, necessity eventually forced both

sides to resort to a military draft to raise an army. Before the war ended, the

South had enlisted about 900,000 white males, and the Union had enrolled about

2 million men (including 186,000 blacks), nearly half of them toward the end of

the war.

In addition, the North possessed clear material advantages?in money and

credit, factories, food production, mineral resources, and transport?that

proved decisive. The South’s ability to fight was hampered by chronic shortages

of food, clothing, medicine, and heavy artillery, as well as by war weariness

and the unpredictability of its black labor force. Even with its superior

manpower and resources, however, the North did not achieve the quick victory it

had expected. To raise, train, and equip a massive fighting force from

inexperienced volunteers and to find efficient military leadership proved a

formidable and time-consuming task.

Only through trial and error did Lincoln find comparable military leaders,

such as Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. On August 30, in the Second

Battle of Bull Run, the combined Confederate forces of Lee, Jackson, and

General James Longstreet inflicted heavy casualties on Union troops and sent

them reeling back to Washington, where Pope was relieved of his command.

Following up on this victory, Lee in September 1862 startled the North by

invading Maryland with some 50,000 troops. Not only did he expect this bold

move to demoralize Northerners, he hoped a victory on Union soil would encourage

foreign recognition of the Confederacy.

McClellan, with 90,000 men, moved to check Lee’s advance. On September 17,

in the bloody Battle of Antietam, some 12,000 Northerners and 12,700

Southerners were killed or wounded. Lee was forced back to Virginia; Lincoln,

angered that McClellan made no effort to cut off Lee’s retreat, relieved the

general of his command.

In late 1862, the Army of the Potomac resumed its offensive toward Richmond,

this time under the command of General Ambrose E. Burnside. On December 13, he

unwisely chose to challenge Lee’s nearly impregnable defenses around

Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Rappahannock River. In still another disaster,

Union forces suffered more than 10,000 killed or wounded and were forced to

retreat to Washington. Burnside too was relieved of his command.

On May 1 Union troops under General Benjamin F. Butler moved into the

largest city and principal port. During the last months of 1862, Grant

consolidated his position along the Mississippi. Buell, ordered to move on

Chattanooga, Tennessee, clashed indecisively with Confederate forces under

General Braxton Bragg. In December, General William S. Rosecrans, who had

replaced Buell, confronted Bragg’s troops in a three-day battle on the Stones

River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, forcing them to retreat. Meanwhile, Grant

prepared for an assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last remaining

Confederate stronghold in the West, high on the bluffs overlooking the

Mississippi River. Considered by the Confederates an impregnable fortress,

Vicksburg resisted Union attacks, and Grant’s army bogged down in the rugged

terrain guarding the north and east approaches to the city. Encouraged by the

victory, Lee seized the initiative and moved his army into the North.

Such an action, he hoped, would relieve the pressure on beleaguered

Confederate forces in the West and induce a war-weary North to agree to a

negotiated peace. In June, a Confederate army of 75,000 men marched through the

Shenandoah Valley into southern Pennsylvania. The Army of the Potomac,

numbering about 85,000 and now commanded by General George G. Meade, moved to

check Lee’s advance. These two massive armies converged on the small town of

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and on July 1 a battle began that many observers

consider a turning point of the Civil War.

In maneuvering for position, Union forces managed to occupy strategic high

ground south of Gettysburg. Lee’s army attacked the position at various points,

only to be thrown back. On July 3, after an intensive artillery duel, Lee

ordered General George E. Pickett to charge the center of the Union lines at

Cemetery Ridge, Pennsylvania. The attack failed. With his army suffering heavy

casualties, Lee retreated, only to be blocked by the flooded Potomac River.

Much to Lincoln’s dismay, however, Meade failed to exploit his advantage, and

Lee’s shattered army was eventually able to retreat into northern Virginia. Yet

again, Lee had sacrificed an enormous portion of his army in the ill-fated

attack. In late March, the Army of the Potomac, numbering 115,000 men, began

its march.


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