Difference between revisions of "American Civil War"

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Removed category History (using HotCat))
(Fighting: Relocating Zinn section from Lost Cause article, as I think it's more relevant to this one)
Line 21: Line 21:
  
 
Part of the settlement was that the South had to give up slavery and accept military occupation for a length of time.  By the end of the war, due to both the hardships of the war and some of the scorched earth tactics practiced by the Southern military, many in the South were willing to accept these conditions, and [[Reconstruction]] began.
 
Part of the settlement was that the South had to give up slavery and accept military occupation for a length of time.  By the end of the war, due to both the hardships of the war and some of the scorched earth tactics practiced by the Southern military, many in the South were willing to accept these conditions, and [[Reconstruction]] began.
 +
 +
==Howard Zinn's perspective==
 +
 +
The idea that slavery was not the primary driving force behind the war is not unique to neo-Confederates; it was also advanced by Howard Zinn in his ''A People's History of the United States'', as part of his argument that the effect of the Civil War was to replace chattel slavery with wage slavery.
 +
 +
Zinn, like the neo-Confederates, argued that the war was one of Northern aggression and had the aim of removing the antebellum Southern elite; namely, that when industrial interests in the North wanted to industrialize the South, the slave-holding elite resisted by causing mass secessions from the Union, after which "Lincoln initiated hostilities" against them.<ref>''A People's History of the United States'', 2nd ed., vol. II, p.15.</ref>
 +
 +
Zinn further argued that slavery was used only as a rhetorical fig-leaf to cover this agenda, with the Union only taking action against slavery when their hand was forced: "It was only as the war grew more bitter, the casualties mounted, desperation to win heightened, and the criticism of the abolitionists threatened to unravel the tattered coalition behind Lincoln that he began to act against slavery."<ref>''Ibid.''</ref>
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==

Revision as of 02:34, 2 November 2010

An integral part of history
War
Icon war2.svg
A view to kill

The American Civil War (alternatively known as the "War of Secession", "The War Between the States," and "The War of Northern Aggression") was a war fought between the Northern and Southern parts of the United States from 1861 to 1865.

After South Carolina received word of the election of Abraham Lincoln, it issued its declaration of independence from the Union. By 1862, eleven southern states had seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. Four slave-owning states, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Delaware, did not secede, and remained loyal to the Union. On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops bombarded the Union's Fort Sumter, effectively beginning the war.

Causes of the war

The causes of the American Civil war have been extensively debated since the war's end in 1865. Historians tend to be deeply divided on the extent to which economic issues, like the conflict over the tariff, and political issues, such as the debate between the 'compact' versus 'contract' theories of government, factored into split. There's even a school of historiography that holds that on the eve of the war, the North and South were not just different economic regions, but were two distinct civilizations, both trying to exist in one government.

Another area of historical debate is found around whether or not the war was preventable. Some historians argue that the differences were too great between the two regions to be resolved by any other means than war; some believe that the war was avoidable, but fire-eaters in the South and extreme abolitionists in the North exacerbated the conflict. Still others think that the war should be blamed on "bumbling politicians," incapable of such compromises as "great" politicians like Daniel Webster and John Calhoun had accomplished.

Slavery

The institution of slavery is at the core of the origins of the war. However, the historical view that the North and South fought the war over the moral issue of slavery has long since been laid to rest. Instead, slavery as a cause manifests itself in different ways, for example, the expansion of slavery into the territories, which the North opposed for economic rather than moral reasons. In addition, the protectionist tariffs that the North wanted on certain goods happened to be on items like cotton, which were grown largely in the South on plantations.

Fighting

The American Civil War turned out to be one of the most bloody wars the world had ever seen. New technology was teamed up with old tactics, leading to a greatly increased casualty rate. [1] Despite the greater lethality of the weapons involved, particularly the artillery, most battles were still fought by lines of men facing each other across a field.

The American Civil War would also prove to be the last American war in which cavalry played a significant role. The Southern cavalry in particular were rather effective skirmishers, and would often attempt to disrupt supply lines for the North.

In the end, due to both greater industrial power and better political leadership, the North managed to grind down the Southern forces. The North, towards the end of the war, had installed generals who understood the nature of total war, exemplified by Sherman's "March to the Sea."

Part of the settlement was that the South had to give up slavery and accept military occupation for a length of time. By the end of the war, due to both the hardships of the war and some of the scorched earth tactics practiced by the Southern military, many in the South were willing to accept these conditions, and Reconstruction began.

Howard Zinn's perspective

The idea that slavery was not the primary driving force behind the war is not unique to neo-Confederates; it was also advanced by Howard Zinn in his A People's History of the United States, as part of his argument that the effect of the Civil War was to replace chattel slavery with wage slavery.

Zinn, like the neo-Confederates, argued that the war was one of Northern aggression and had the aim of removing the antebellum Southern elite; namely, that when industrial interests in the North wanted to industrialize the South, the slave-holding elite resisted by causing mass secessions from the Union, after which "Lincoln initiated hostilities" against them.[2]

Zinn further argued that slavery was used only as a rhetorical fig-leaf to cover this agenda, with the Union only taking action against slavery when their hand was forced: "It was only as the war grew more bitter, the casualties mounted, desperation to win heightened, and the criticism of the abolitionists threatened to unravel the tattered coalition behind Lincoln that he began to act against slavery."[3]

See also

Footnotes

  1. It is often said that more Americans died in the Civil War than all other American wars put together.
  2. A People's History of the United States, 2nd ed., vol. II, p.15.
  3. Ibid.