Civil War Origins and Legacy
University of Phoenix
August 25, 2008
Origins and Legacy of the Civil War
Perhaps the greatest war in American History, the Civil War is unique because of the fact that it was the only war fought on American soil. The American Civil War’s origins were brought forth by complex issues dealing with slavery, expansionism, sectionalism, and political party politics. However the Civil War was mainly devised because of slavery issues and later intensified by tariff issues as well. During this time the United States was forced to confront the issue of whether new areas of settlement were going to be pro-slave states or no slave holding states. After the war slavery was still an ongoing issue in society until it was diminished by Abraham Lincoln. However racial discrimination continued amongst many southerners after blacks were given the right to vote. This summary of the origins and legacy of the Civil War will give more insight of the events that led to the end of slavery and the reconstruction of a new nation.
Origins and Legacy
The origins of the Civil War can be found at the time of Thomas Jefferson when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Although Jefferson wouldn't know that this would start a war a hundred years after he wrote them, they were used in debates by both supporters and combatants of slavery. However, slavery was only a part of the reason that the Civil War happened. Other factors such as economic differences between the northern and southern states, government influence and population also contributed to the beginning of the war. The war did not break out until all these things broke the southerners back and they decided to secede from the Union. The Civil War did not start because of slavery, although it was an underlying reason, rather President Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union in its entirety. Therefore, the Civil War started on the basis that the Union would not be split but preserved as one nation.
The legacy that the Civil War left behind for future generations was one of hope, equality and understanding. However, the rebuilding of the South and the new laws that were to be enacted to stop any other wars breaking out that would divide the Union were an endeavor that would shape the future of the South, North and the rest of the United States for many years. The freeing of the slaves in the South has led to many other equality reforms throughout the years which have made all men and women equal. Although there are some feelings and ideologies that still reflect the old slavery ways, the majority of people feel that equality abounds for all people because of the efforts and successes of the North during the Civil War.
One of the greatest Presidents (and Commander in Chief) of all times may have had different views of slavery than we would like to believe. To him, the civil war was not brought about to abolish slavery, nor was it to debate the morality of treating human beings as chattel but throughout the years, as the subject refused to go away, he was forced to respond to it. In a speech given on August 21, 1858 in Ottawa, Illinois, he states:
“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the
black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably for ever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary; but I hold, that,...