Responses to the American Civil War
The United States Economic Transformation between 1812 and the Civil War
The United States experienced numerous changes between the war of 1812 and the Civil War. In 1812, this country was an agrarian nation. The towns were small. However, there were few decent cities with a booming mercantile economy. The manufacturing activities were growing, but the majority of citizens were farmers and local traders. After the war of 1812, the American economic growth was astounding. The development of boats and building of canals revolutionized water travel and transport. The market for grains expanded to the southern and eastern markets. Eastern cities developed railroads that dominated the freight movement. The new immerging railroads transport stimulated both industries, as well as agriculture, and significantly reduced the cost of transporting goods to the markets. The telegraph invention boosted communication.
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Production using interchangeable parts was introduced by Eli Whitney becoming the founder of the American manufacturing system. Cash crops cultivation got stimulated by the growing market demands and improved transport systems. Later, the iron plow and mechanical thresher were introduced completely transforming agricultural production. The renewed economic growth and development contributed to the zoom cities growth. The urban population growth recorded a sixty percent increase in every decade between 1820 and 1840. By the time the Civil War started in 1861, the United States had transformed itself (Foner, 2014). Most Americans were still living in the rural areas, but the farmers had become part of a national and continually increasing international market economy. More significantly, the United States had formulated a significant manufacturing sector and was gradually becoming a challenge to the Europe industrial nations for supremacy. By the time the Civil War started, the country had gone through the first stage of the industrial revolution. The changes produced were far from complete, but the American people understood and felt that the world had changed economically.
The Whig Party Collapse and its Effects on the American Politics and Election of 1856 and 1860
The fall of the Whig Party originated from the conflict between the party and the Democrats and revolved around California admission to the Union as a free state. The admission came out as an upset in the balance of power in Congress between free and slave states. An arduous legislative battle resulted between the northern and southern representatives. The south argument was that the state and Congress did not have the mandate to legislate against territorial slavery expansion. Aware of the possibility of the sections disagreement to split the country, Democrats and Whigs reached a compromise in the hope of avoiding secession (Foner, 2014). California requested admission as a free state, and the fugitive slave law strengthened. The compromise did not, however, address how other territories could handle the slave issue.
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The Whig Party was unable to address the slavery issue effectively after the 1850 compromise. Nearly all Whig southern members owned slaves while the party members from the northeastern could not care less about slavery. The northeastern members were businessmen whose primary concern was national unity and domestic market. The split in the interest of the Whig Party members eroded the unity of the party leading to its demise in the 1850s. The Whig Party death changed the landscape of American politics with the majority of northerners bitterly resenting Fugitive Slave Act massive enforcement. As a result, northerners loosely coalesced with the emerging Republican antislavery party. The Republicans gained the north support rapidly evidenced in the 11 out of 16 states win by their presidential candidate, John C. Fremont in 1856. By 1860, most of the southern slave states threatened secession publically in the case of a Republican presidency. Abraham Lincoln was elected president in the November of 1860 on a Republican ticket leading to South Carolina seceding from the union six weeks later (Johnson, 2011). Five more states followed South Carolina six weeks later and by April 1861, the Civil War began, which would ultimately change American politics.
What Difference would the Survival of the Whig Party have caused?
The primary outcome of the collapse of the Whig Party was the rise of the antislavery Republican Party. If the Whig Party overcame the tumult of the 1850s, the Republican Party could not have strongly emerged. Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed slave or free status to be determined by popular sovereignty, hence, eroding the Missouri compromise, could not have seen daylight. A few antislavery voices could not have had a platform to air their views. Most of all, the survival of the Whigs Party would have made America miss the Abraham Lincoln presidency one of the most famous and remembered president. The demise of the Whig Party paved the way for the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which triggered Lincolns renewed interest in slavery and politics.
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The act shook up American politics and most importantly shook up Abraham Lincoln out of a political hibernation. The Whig Party could not have managed to consolidate the support of the northern states that would have given the Democrats an easy win in 1856. By 1860, the Whig Party could not have gained formidable support similar to what the Republican Party enjoyed. The Democrats could most likely have won the presidency. It means that the South slave states would not have seceded from the union leading to the birth of the Civil War. With Lincoln out of the picture, as well as Democrats presidency, and without the Civil War, the fight against the spread of slavery would have been as good as dead. The Civil War firmly identified the Republican Party as the party of the victorious North (Farmer, 2012, p. 67). After the war, a Republican-dominated Congress forced the radical reconstruction policies enacted on the South. The latter saw the passage of key amendments to the constitution granting the equal right to every southern citizen. Under no circumstance would the Whig Party have managed to dominate the presidency like the Republican Party did from the time of Lincoln to Franklin D. Roosevelt election in 1933.
How would the South have won the Civil War?
It was evident to all by March 1865 that the South was losing the battle except for the die-hard Confederates. Since that time to date, different ideas have been raised with the various scenarios under which the Confederates would have won the Civil War. Every situation raised, under which the South could have won the battle, comes with contradictory facts. Consider, for instance, King Cotton diplomacy, Jones (2015) claims that if the Confederates had sent as much cotton as possible to Europe before the blockade became effective instead of holding it to create a shortage, they could have established lines of credit to purchase war material. Such a diplomacy move could have motivated Britain and France to extend Confederate diplomatic recognition and most likely intervene through peace mediation (Jones, 2015).
If the South purchase significantly huge amount of war material before the blockade was effective, the union could have developed a fear for the South. In the presence of fear, the Union could have been open to negotiation with the Confederates resulting in a win-win situation. On the contrary, the South missed the opportunity to acquire more war materials through the King Cotton diplomacy that made them suffer acute shortage by mid-war. Many would argue that the South never lost a single battle due to lack of ammunition but because of a lack of men and difficulties in the movement of troops and war materials (Jones, 2015). Nevertheless, the fact that they suffered the shortage of war material could have eroded their morale and conviction leading to the defeat in the Civil War.
The Difference Lincoln would have made to Reconstruction
The South reconstruction would have proceeded far much better if John Wilkes Booth missed the shot. It was merely a week after the surrender of the Southern Confederates army at Appomattox Court House, and the nation was being reborn after four Civil War dreary years. The country needed a strong leader with political skills and justice conviction like Lincoln. On the contrary, Johnson, who took the presidency after his death, was lacking in both. The bullet ushered in a costly war and a much-botched reconstruction. If Lincoln had lived, he would have pursued healing the nation (Tackach, 2002, p.150), and, most significantly, the name Jim Crow would not have found its way in the American history. Though Lincoln never left a clear plan to reconstruction, evidence point to a four paths reconstruction he would have established.
Lincoln would have negotiated amnesty that the Confederates needed for the voting rights of the four million freed blacks. The right to vote would have offset the political dominance making the whites in the South open to fair coexistence with the blacks. Better economic integration for the freed slave through land ownership constituted Lincoln vision. Lincoln once said he wanted all men to have a chance to rise from poverty including the blacks. With land ownership, the blacks would have been economically empowered, and we would not be talking about things like health disparity among the African American today. Lincoln had made it clear that he had no intention of hunting down the Confederate leaders after the war in his second inaugural speech. Nevertheless, he would have frightened them to leave creating room for more Unionist whites from the south to take over the leadership. Just as Lincoln stated in his second inaugural address, with malice towards none and charity to all, the blacks and whites could have gradually lived themselves out of their apprehensively old relation (Tackach, 2002, p. 151).