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Aftermath of the American Civil War Essay

By AdamSmith5 Jan 31, 2010 858 Words
American Civil War (1865-1861) [1] has always been an interesting, yet tragic page of the US history. The numerous stories of heroism and cowardice, bravery and weakness, truth and injustice have been told several millions of times. The names like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, William T. Sherman will never be forgotten by the American nation. Nevertheless, American Civil War had its consequences and one should know that behind the beautiful story of battle for freedom and humanity there were events that changed the history of one of the most powerful countries of the world. This essay will cover the most vital changes that were caused by American Civil War in economic and social areas. The text will be completed by the summary of the main points.

When on April 26th, 1865 Johnston’s Confederate army capitulated to General Sherman [2], everyone understood that the last resistance of the South to the US government has been broken. That day not a single person knew that the country that is devastated by the greatest war in its history will maintain an economical upward. The slavery turned out to be a heavy cargo for the national economy. On April 14th, 1865 [3] Abraham Lincoln was brutally murdered, however his and his team’s wise economic actions gave their results. National Currency Acts of 1863 and 1864, subsidized railroads and other businesses [4], brought their results after the War ended – the work places were created, faster and more efficient way of transportation was available now. Industrialization of the South had begun; Lincoln’s administration agreed that the faster the unification of the country and its economy will occur, the better economic situation will become later and all their actions were made for the faster economic recovery of the South. Despite the war, the population of the US has grown from 31 million in 1860 to 38 million in 1870. In 1867 Alaska was bought from Russia, the same year Nebraska became 37th state and the Union Pacific Railroad arrived in Wyoming [5]. GDP’s annual rate during 1860-1865 was an average of 4.6%, which is more than in USA nowadays [6]. All these events added up to shape a healthy and improving economic situation after the Civil War.

As to the social life, everything was more complicated. There were three main conflicts in the US society of that time: between African Americans and Southerners, between Northerners and Southerners and between freed black people and Southerners (however surprising it may sound). The first conflict was marked by the following event: in May 1886, Pulaski, Tennessee, the first Klu-Klux Klan was established [7]. More and more people joined it and it was becoming more and more powerful. The results of actions of this clan are known worldwide and will not be described in this essay. The second conflict was essential as the result of the war. North and South almost became separate and they, of course, had their reasons to have some tension between each other. However, what was surprising, that even Northerners thought of freed blacks as of free, but not equal. This fact is easily proven by the Lincoln’s words to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that." These three main issues formed one large social problem, when the nation needed a single goal to reach.

The American Civil War was the most horrible war in the US history, 364,511 people died which is only 40,888 less than in II World War (US army only)[8]. Nevertheless, US government actions should be an example of economic consistency and logic. Despite hard an unbearable sociological situation, nation’s tragedy and other issues, the resources were pooled together and all the strength was brought to the fight. The results of the war were positive, but they were achieved at a very high price. Luckily, this war was an example for the world’s community and was unique in its cruelty and devastation.

Sources Cited:
1. Civil War “Civil War timeline”
August 18, 2009

2. William Archibald Dunning
Reconstruction POLITICAL & ECONOMIC 1865-1877 (page4-5) HARPER TORCHBOOKS THE ACADEMY LIBRARY
HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK
3. Morse, John T. (editor), “The Death of President Lincoln, 1865”, Eye Witness to history.com, 1999, August 18, 2009

4. Thomas J. DiLorenzo, “Lincoln’s economic legacy”, Ludwig fon Mises Institute, September 2, 2001, August 18, 2009

5. Frank E. Smitha, “The United States, 1865-1890”, Macrohistory and World Report 2003, August 18, 2009

6. MeasuringWorth, “Annualized Growth Rate of Various Historical Economic Series”, Measuring Worth, 2009, August 18, 2009

7. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed, “The first Ku Klux Klan”, Infoplease, 2007, August 18, 2009

8. CRS report for Congress, order code RL32492, “American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics”, updated May 14, 2008, August 18, 2009

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