The Civil War

The civil war was doubly tragic because it was completely unnecessary. Slavery had been ended in other nations with the stroke of a pen, and yet in the mighty United States the country was willing to go to war over the issue of whether slavery should remain.

The southerners felt that it was their constitutional right to own slaves and did not see a time when they should be required to give up that right. However, upon the election of Lincoln as President, the southerners felt threatened, and felt their slave holding rights were being threatened, and in an effort to protect these rights they chose to secede from the union. The northerners and Lincoln saw the importance of maintaining a united country, set out to bring back the seceded states. Thus the Civil War began.

During the civil war 970, 227 Americans were either killed or wounded, this number was surpassed by only World War II. While the civil war originally began as a quest to bring the southern states back to the union. However, the goal of the war did soon change to that of abolition. While the war may have seemed necessary to the soldiers and governments who were participating, in retrospect it was unnecessary.

In three separate European countries, slavery had been abolished prior to the American Civil War, and each without arms being raised. Slavery had been abolished in Britain in 1838, Sweden in 1848, and in Holland in 1863. It indeed could have similarly been abolished in the United States. However, the southerners, who were dependent on the slave institution, refused to give up their right to own slaves easily.

Had the South been more progressively thinking many lives would have been saved and blood need not have been shed in the name of slavery. This is particularly true because if the south had given up their right to free labor (slavery), they would have soon received the gift of mechanical labor. Indeed they might have profited more from the use of the machines which were soon to be invented, as they did not require housing, and food. However, the southerners were deeply rooted in their institution of slavery and were prepared to go to war over their feelings.

During this war the battle fields were transformed into shambles where during the duration of the war 634,703 union soldiers were killed or wounded, and 335,524 confederate soldiers were killed or wounded. Indeed this was the second most intense war second to World War II. In the civil war 3,846 soldiers from both the union army and the confederate army were killed per month of fighting. This clearly shows the intensity of the battle and the strong will which drove both sides to continue fighting in the face of such catastrophe.

The financial burden endured by both sides was astronomical for the time period. The union force spent a combined 3.2 billion dollars which in terms of current currency values is 27.3 billion dollars. The confederacy spent two billion or 17.1 billion dollars. This is the price both sides were willing to pay in the name of slavery.

The North and South went to war over the issue of slavery and endured a great expense in terms of human lives, and money. They could however have followed the example of Britain, Sweden, and Holland and simply signed away the institution of slavery and saved thousands of lives, and billions in dollars. However, the south was too deeply rooted in the institution of slavery, and when the Emancipation Proclamation came which freed the slaves they still treated them as they did before, often outside of the legal limits. Even after the 14th amendment which legally made people of color American citizens, there were strong racial and prejudicial feelings which ran rampant in the south, for example the KKK, and Jim Crow Laws, and literacy tests for the right to vote. African Americans endured these hardships for years to come, indeed until the civil rights movement in the 20th century.