The Civil War: Changing Roles of African Americans and Women

Topics: American Civil War, Southern United States, Confederate States of America Pages: 6 (2281 words) Published: May 11, 2011
Lopez, Robert
Gillis-Smith, Beth
English M01A
The Civil War: Changing Roles Of African Americans And Women There were several events that lead to the American Civil War. The Northern states wanted African Americans to be free from slavery, while the Southern states wanted to continue owning them. The Northern states didn’t need slaves for their economy to thrive, as opposed to the Southern states, where their economy relied heavily on the slave’s free labor. Both sides also argued on whether or not the newly acquired states should be free states or slave states, but since the North’s population growth exceeded the South’s, they had more power in the government. The Northern sates had most of the electoral votes and that allowed them to decide who would win the election of 1860. The election of 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president of America. Abraham Lincoln strongly supported abolition. His views went against the Southerner’s beliefs. Once he was elected into office, the Southern states drew the line. A month after he won the election, the Southern states started seceding. That was the final step towards starting the war. There were now two sides, the Northern Union states, and the Southern Confederate states. April 12, 1861, the Confederate army attacked fort Sumter, marking the beginning of the American Civil War. The American Civil War changed the lives of many. After the war nothing could go back to being the same. The group of people who felt the changes most were African Americans and women. Their roles in American society changed during the war and after. The idea of women being fragile, weak, and dependent of a husband had vanished. Women took up their husband’s responsibilities and helped the wounded men that were at war. Some women went to the extreme and disguised themselves as men and actually fought in the war. They were viewed with a new sense of respect. Women proved that they could be strong and independent, that they could do anything a man could do. As for the African American community, they waited, anxiously, to see what the outcome might be. Some Slaves from the south ran away to the North in hope to be freed from their masters. Others joined the union army, and according to the web article, Slave Resistance during the Civil War (sidebar), they made up 15% of the Union Army by the end of the war. This war determined whether they were to be set free, or continue to be slaves. From here on out things started changing. Lincoln started calling in troops to fight against the Confederates. Many men left their homes to join the war, leaving their wives at home. The wives were now in charge of not only taking care of the house and kids, they were also responsible for bringing an income to support the family. Some women were also left in charge of their husbands family business, like 30-year-old Southern women, Elizabeth Thorn. She was a mother of three and became pregnant in 1863. During the war, Elizabeth took care of her home, raised her children, and took over her husbands work in running the family business, the town cemetery. She even took the time to feed and shelter generals and troops whenever they needed it. Unfortunately for her, she was forced to evacuate her home when the war was getting to close to her home. Elizabeth returned later on only to find that the Union soldiers had ransacked her home (Wayne). After working so hard to keep her family’s future, she lost everything in a matter of days. This situation was common among the Southern women. Since most of the war was fought in the South, some women lost everything they had once the Union soldiers came in and took over. Women started breaking from the traditional attitudes that women were limited to housework and raising children. Since many men were fighting the war, they needed nurses to attend them. Over three thousand American women were paid nurses. There were thousand more that volunteered (Wayne). Mary...
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