Till now, we have discussed Crusade, Industrial Revolution, America’s colonisation, the American war of independence. Today we are going to read about Revolutionary American Civil War. So, now we are going to understand the circumstances behind this civil war. So let us start from some brief facts. 🙂
The United States of America after Independence
American Civil War: Background
As we know different European people inhabited American colonies. The America was a land of mines and plantation agriculture. So, to fulfil the demand of labours European countries carried the slave trade. It was to bring Negro workers from African Continent to America.
The slave trade began early in the seventeenth century, and a regular supply was kept up till 1863. At first, cargo-boats crossing the Western African coast, a part of it is still called the “Slave Coast”- picked up the Africans, whenever they could do so easily and carried them to America. It was found that this slave trade was a very profitable business. Special ships, Slave-traders were built with galleries between decks. In which Negroes were made to lie down, all chained up. This was a very inhuman condition. Liverpool became a great city on the foundation of the slave trade.
This trade was in the hand of Spain, Portuguese and English. The southern states required labours because of their agricultural economy. So, the African Negroes were working in the southern states- Virginia, Carolina and Georgia as slaves. They made to work in gangs on the large plantations, chiefly of tobacco. Whereas the northern states were different. There were industrial, where the new big machine-industry spread rapidly. Thus it was seen that two different kinds of economic systems were growing in the United States of America.
Cause of Contention between Northern and Southern States
“ISSUE OF COMPACT SOVEREIGNTY”
With the birth of the United States in 1787, the rift between northern and southern states on the grounds of compact sovereignty started. Under compact sovereignty, southern states were having certain special rights including, right to leave the union. This led to the formation of two political parties. The federal party which supported the cause of strong union. These parties, later on, turned into democrats and republicans.
This rift turned into the struggle on the issue of Tariff Policy. The northern states were having infant industries. So, to protect their indigenous goods they wanted a strong tariff policy. Whereas southern states had the agricultural economy. So they were against to this strong tariff policy. Because they required importing agricultural tools, implements and slaves from European nations and northern states. This proved to be a cause of clash of economic interest between two states.
The political, economic and social differences have prevailed between the northern and southern states. In this, the issue of slavery proved to be a cause of blast between both the states. In the nineteenth century, the British Parliament passed stringent laws against slavery.
Other countries in European and America followed. Though the slave trade was banned. But the Negroes were still carried from Africa to America. And the journey of these Negroes became far worse than before.
They could not be carried openly, so they have hidden away from sight on loose shelves, one on top of the other. Sometimes, an American writer tell us, “one crowded onto the lap of another, and with legs on legs, like riders on a crowded toboggan!” It is difficult to imagine the full horror of all this.
All the principal countries made the trade illegal early in the nineteenth century or thereabouts. Even the United States did so. Though the slave trade was outlawed. But slavery itself continued to be legal in America– that is to say, that the old slaves continued as slaves.
The industrialised northern states of America, after this law, had an eye on the large population of slaves of southern states. So, the intention was to have economic uniformity with which they can go for political uniformity and strengthen American union.
The northern states which were free states as slavery was not there, stood up against this slavery prevailed in southern states. This was the attack on the existence of feudal laws of southern states.
American Civil War
American Civil War: Phase-I
With the independence of America in 1787, Americans opted policy of expansion on the basis of purchase and conquest.
- Napoleon sold Louisiana to the America in 1803.
- Florida was taken away from Spain.
- Texas and California have snatched away from Mexico.
This territorial expansion started giving birth to new states in the America. Now question arose for the status of these new states, whether they will be free states or slave states. Infant America was not in the condition to face internal trouble, so this led to a compromise called Missouri Agreement of 1820. So, this agreement decided that the states above 36º30’ North latitude will be free states and while the states below it will be slave states.
American Civil War: Phase-II
Although both the states accepted for compromise but it seems that industrialised states were not in the mood of surrender. So, they opted back door policy to fight against slavery system. An agitation grew up in the north for the total abolition of slavery.
The people who were in favour of this were called the ‘Abolitionists’. And their principal leader was Willian Lloyd Garrison. Garrison brought out a paper called the Liberator to support his anti-slavery agitation. Some of his sentences:
I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! No! tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm, tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a ravisher, tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen–but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest–I will not equivocate–I will not excuse–I will not retreat a single inch–and I will be heard.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin?’, novel presented the sad story of Negroes in the Southern States. This novel came out ten years before the Civil War and had a great influence in rousing the American people against slavery.
These developments created suspicion among the both states leading to violation of Missouri agreement 1820.
American Civil War: Phase-III
The anti-slavery activities created suspicion between southern states. In this scenario, two incidents elevated the enthusiasm of southern states. Eventually, they violated Missouri agreement.
Episode1: – Stephan Douglas was a senator from Illinois and he came with the proposal in the senate that status of the states will depend on the wish of the people.
Episode2: – In the famous Dred Scott case, Supreme Court was of the opinion that slavery was a legal institution.
These two cases increased the enthusiasm of southern states. Eventually, they succeeded in turning Kansas and Nebraska into slave states which were above the 36°30’N latitudes. This started the direct confrontation between both the states.
American Civil War: Phase-IV
In 1854, the Republican party formed with the sole agenda of eliminating slavery in America. Then the James Brown episode came on the scene. James Brown was an “Abolitionist”. He was a sympathiser of slaves. He distributed arms and ammunition to the slaves to fight against the exploitation.
So, these incidents made it clear to southern states that the days of slavery was over in America. As a reaction to it, in 1861, 7 states of south separated from the union and formed Confederation of states. Davis Jefferson became the new President. And he made three important declarations:
- Slavery as a legal institution.
- Abolition of tariff policy.
- Special status to the states.
Civil War in America lasted for four weary years. President of United States of America Abraham Lincoln handled this war with patience.
We will read about the role of Abraham Lincoln in detail, in next coming post. Till then enjoy learning. 🙂
Thank you so much 🙂 Stay connected 🙂