Did the Civil War Ultimately reduce sectional antagonism and make the United States truly one nation?

7 July 2016

Prior to Civil War, distinct Northern and Southern cultures had been established; The free North occupied the commercial industry, while the slavery-based South undertook an agricultural occupation. The South and the North began to fight over right and wrong. The major issue was regarding slavery, as the South wanted to preserve slavery while, the North wanted to get rid of it. These conflicts rose into sectional antagonism and eventually put the United States and President Lincoln in a loophole.

During the Civil War however, Lincoln made some extremely controversial decisions, that resulted in a reduction of the sectional antagonism present, and the United States became truly “one nation. ” The sectional issue of slavery erupted when the Fugitive Slave Law was passed in 1850. This law provided for the recovery of slaves who ran away to free states. Owners and slave catchers could seize their runaway slaves in the Northern. To accomplish this, Southern slave owners could demand assistance from federal marshals. The Northerners, many of whom were abolitionists, charged that the law made it easy to kidnap free African Americans.

Did the Civil War Ultimately reduce sectional antagonism and make the United States truly one nation? Essay Example

This dispute continued for years, until Abraham Lincoln was elected into office in 1860. Lincoln had expressed his concerns about the expansion of slavery. The Republicans had nominated Lincoln for President on a platform that opposed extending slavery into the territories. Many Southern states seceded from the Union following the fall of Ft. Sumter in 1861 (Document B and C). General Beauregard stated, “I cheerfully agreed that on surrendering the fort the commanding officer might salute his flag. ” Union Commander at Ft. Sumter Maj. Robert Anderson stated, “Fort Sumter is left in ruins from the effect of the shell…

whilst saluting our flag as it was lowered. ” During the time of the fall of the fort, there had been a considerable difference of opinion as to whether the federal government should oppose secession. Northerners wanted slave states out of the Union. Northerners figured that in a South cut off from the industrial North, slavery would wither away. Copperheads, or Northern Democrats, sympathized with the South and asked, “Why fight? ” Fort Sumter united most Northerners, but only increased the tensions with the South. Lincoln’s was not interested in conflict.

His main and only goal was to preserve the Union. He stated, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. ” According to Document A (Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address), he mentioned that “[Americans] are not enemies, but friends. ” Although their “passion may have strained it must not break the bonds of affection”. It shows that from the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln believed there were “never” enemies and he believed that there shouldn’t be any antagonisms among people of United States.

Despite his belief, the South refused to re-enter the Union. There were many soldiers such as Daniel Crotty, who were fighting and suffering to preserve the Union. He stated, “camp life here is very hard, the weather being very hot, and we drill a great deal. ” He went on to explain the duties of the soldiers, “guard mount, guard duty, picket duty, and fatigue duty. ” However, throughout the Civil War, people, who, at first, believed that they were fighting for a good cause, accepted that their disputes were useless and began to change their mind.

According to Document E from Life of a Confederate Soldier, Sam Watkins, it said that all the glory and money went to “generals, colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants. ” Also it said that “generals could resign in honor, but a private could not resign and if he deserts the army, the result was death”. Many private soldiers such as Watkins from the Confederate side who fought in battles with “dint of sweat, hard marches, camp and picket duty, fasting and broken bones” questioned why the generals and high ranking officials get the honor and glory when the privates should have received them.

Abolition of slavery would help the North hurt the South. Slavery was a crucial issue on the Union’s diplomatic front with Britain. Lincoln realized that he could use emancipation as a weapon of war as the war was now primarily being fought over slavery. He also wanted to satisfy his own personal hope that everyone everywhere would eventually be free. So in June 1862, Congress passed a law prohibiting slavery in the territories. Lincoln issued the final form of his Emancipation Proclamation (Document F).

It stated, “slaves within any State… shall be then, thencefoward, and forever free. ” The proclamation had a powerful symbolic effect. It broadened the base of the war by turning it in to a fight for unity. The climax of the war occurred at Gettysburg, where General Ulysses S. Grant faced General Robert E. Lee. The Union had won the war, by cutting the Confederacy into two halves. Shortly after, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address (Document G), in which he stated that all men are created equal.

He was not only trying to acknowledge the slaves, but also the section issues living between the North and South. He stated, “God shall have a new birth of freedom… by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. ” In addition to this, the results after the Civil War showed that there was a reduction in antagonisms in U. S. At his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln announced the imperative duty of American people to, “proceed with malice toward none; with charity toward all… to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds.

” Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court house in Virginia. According to Document H by General US Grant, he promised General Robert E. Lee that “each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the U. S authorities so long as they observed their paroles, and the laws in force where they may reside”. By not acting harshly and not punishing the Confederate soldiers, the Union and Abraham Lincoln showed that they no longer had the “hostility” or the “antagonism” toward South at the end of Civil War.

Ultimately, The Civil War was a brutal war, but assisted in reducing the sectional antagonisms and joined the United States together once again. However, most of the credit for this union between the South and North was given to Lincoln. His decisions regarding slavery helped join the two sectors together into one nation. Before the Civil War, the North and South were clearly divided; however, throughout and after Civil War, the hostility against each other died out.

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