The Civil War in the history of American consciousness

Civil War


The Civil War remains the dominant case in the history of American consciousness. Although the 1776-1783 revolution led to the creation of the U.S.A, the civil War between the years 1861-1865 was the main determining factor of what sort of Nation the U.S.A would become. The Civil War settled two fundamental problems that hanged unanswered even after the revolution. If the United States would become a dissolvable Union of Independent States or an indivisible entity with a single Independent National government. And if the country born from the assertion that all people were created with civil liberty, should continue to be the greatest slave-keeping nation in the entire would (Blattman, Christopher, 27). Apart from these, the Civil War resolved several issues, which led to the formation of a unified nation. Therefore, this paper will focus on analyzing the main reasons that led to the Civil War and how both sides supported their claims by utilizing the ideals of their founding fathers.

Reasons that led to the Civil War?

The leading cause of the Civil War to commence was due to the long-standing uncompromisingly disparity among the free and the slave states about the central government authority to ban the practice of slavery in regions that were not declared as states. Lincoln observed that even though both parties had differences, they did not want War, but it was inevitable (Civil War). The War broke out in 1861 after Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican president and pledged to stop slavery in the regions when he revealed his strategic approach. His inaugural address evoked the South Carolina legislature to call for the consideration of secession by a State Convention. Thus, leading to the formation of a new republic, the Confederate States of America, by seven states which seceded. After a while, they were joined by four other states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina). The Lincoln government and many citizens of the North decline to recognize the validity of the secession. They believed that independence would be tainted, and a devastating trend would ultimately further divide the divided U.S.A into many fragile, competing nations (Hummel, 74 The Political Economy of Slavery and Secession).

The main incident that triggered the Civil War took place on 12th April 1861, at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay (Fleche, 14 Revolution, and The American Civil War). The Confederate State Army declared the U.S fort to be it’s own and attacked the federal guards that day, forcing them to surrender. Former President Lincoln ordered the militia to counter the insurgency. By the end of 1861, almost a million soldiers and armed men challenged one another. Nevertheless, the real battle began in 1862. Major conflicts such as Shiloh in Tennessee, Manassas, Virginia, and Antietam in Maryland herald signified more major struggles and hardship from Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Atlanta, Georgia. Up to 1864, the initial objective of the Northern of a brief war to rebuild the Nation, was given away to a sizeable absolute battle policy to eradicate the Old South and its critical structures of slavery and to grant the freshly formed Nation a new birth of liberty.

Arguments and Ideas

The Union

The Union (North Side), led by former President Lincoln, embraced the ideas of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (the founding fathers) by invoking their principles to support both the Union and liberation. Utilizing Jefferson’s case, Lincoln and his government upheld the values and ethos of the Declaration of Freedom and the ideal of making all men equal when he stated, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” (Finkelman, 213). Therefore, the Union, through Abraham Lincoln, understood the importance of prohibiting the practice of slavery in many territories since all lives were valuable, and equity would ensure continuity of the Nation. Hence, they trusted that black people should have free will and fought to end slavery.

Abraham Lincoln supported the Declaration of Independence and a formal preamble as primary declarations of democratic values. In his political career, he often referenced the resolution, the omission of the slavery word in the government Constitution, The Northwestern Legislation of 1787 banning the expansion of slavery in the Territories, and several other indicators of founders who supported or took action to restrict slavery. Lincoln always took the founder’s ideals with him to clarify to the people his feelings towards slavery, the Union, and the knowledge which could apply to the crisis of secession. These are the arguments Lincoln presented to the American people that the founding fathers hated slavery and the steps they took to limit its spread. As a result, the ideals were driving factors for the Union formation and fight against the Confederates State to end slavery.

The Union, nearly, in many aspects, had a significant advantage over the Confederates. The Union was producing 97% of the Weapons, and the country’s infrastructure, such as textile, factory, and railroad mileage. They also had a large number of free male, industrial workers, livestock, and wealth-producing capability. Thus, the North had doubled the capacity of the Confederates’ resources and workforce. Since the Union had control over both the Navy and the sea, the Lincoln administration formulated an aggressive strategy. This blockade strategy was possible of diminishing the South by blocking its ability to sell its cotton. Even though the Confederates could manufacture all the required food, it had a huge challenge to transport the food to both its troops and the people, yet it had a strong pool of trained soldiers (Civil War).


On the other hand, as President Lincoln supported and embraced the policy to stop slavery as the founders did, the confederates (Southside) also suggested that they were still the right defenders of the ideas proposed by the Founders. They intended that the founding fathers such as Hamilton, Franklin, Washington, and other great men of the early days established a government system that recognized both free and slave states and let each country utterly independent on the topic of slavery and did as it pleased. Hence, the Confederates wanted to replace the constitution with the one which existed before the founding fathers replaced it and which created a centralized government above the existing states.

Also, they argued that the importance of slavery was necessary and that it was why some of the founding fathers inherited slaves. They believed that that the North Union had betrayed the founding father’s original intention, which was that “a negro can never be equal to a white man.” (Hummel, 10 Slavery and States’ Rights). For instance, George Washington had many slaves who he presumed to free late when he was about to die. George Washington was a symbolic person to both the Union and Confederates. Since he inherited slaves, the confederates argued that they were preserving the states’ rights of practicing slavery, which was created, and they became their motivation during the Civil War. Thus, they viewed their Nation as a defender for the ideals expressed by the founding fathers.

In the brink of the War, the confederacy led by Jefferson Davis, begun building everything from scratch, including factories, firearms, and enormous food production since the increased the recruiting process of the citizens. After the bombing of Fort Sumter, Lincoln ordered 35000 troops to attack the 20000 confederates defending Manassas (Civil War, A Great Rush). After the battle, the rebels understood the superiority of their forces. In 1862, the Confederate General Robert Lee went to War against General McClellan, who was later replaced by General John Pope. General Robert Lee exercised his power as he defeated the Unions more than twice, and by the end of 1862, the North was struggling to overcome the rebellion.

Despite the challenges, the Confederates also had an advantage. Their main strength was the fact that they were battling in their territories of defense. They were acquainted with the landscape, and therefore, the Confederates fighters could harm the Union attackers with ease (Brady, Lisa, 93). This became a significant challenge for the Union’s strategic and political goal to penetrate, attack, and conquer the confederates.  Even though the South had the advantage of Morale, the North had better resources and support that led to the defeat of the Confederates in 1865, when General Robert Lee of the Confederates gave in to General Ulysses Grant of the Union during the Battle of Appomattox Court House.


In conclusion, even though the War ended, it had severe repercussions, which had a profound impact on the country. The War established a unified political entity for the U.S as it led to liberation of over four million Americans who were enslaved. It also created a much more stable and unified federal government, which paved the foundation for the rise of America’s influence and world power nation in the 20th century. Although, independence did not translate to liberation for former slaves, it was after the Civil War that enormous constitutional reforms were introduced to redefine the essence of the American society. Therefore, the War led to the development of the great principles which govern the U.S.A.

Work Cited

Blattman, Christopher, and Edward Miguel. “Civil war.” Journal of Economic Literature 48.1 (2010): 3-57.

Brady, Lisa M. War upon the land: military strategy and the transformation of southern landscapes during the American Civil War. University of Georgia Press, 2012.

Civil War Reading

Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson. Routledge, 2014.

Fleche, Andre M. The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict. Univ of North Carolina Press, 2012.

Hummel, Jeffrey. Emancipating slaves, enslaving free men: a history of the American Civil War. The open court, 2013.

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