The Civil War is Still Known
The Civil War is still known today as America’s bloodiest conflict. It is said that between 1861 and 1865 there were about 620,000 fatalities connected to the deadly battles of this American war; this death count is approximately equal to the total number of American fatalities during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish-American War, World War 1, World War 2, and The Korean War combined (Faust). This destructive war erupted into an explosion of mass carnage because of the toxic relationship between Northern and Southern states of America. Some of the issues that pushed these two divided forces into taking abrasive action were western expansion and states’ sovereignty.
Western expansion was always thought as inevitable. The term Manifest Destiny continually fueled pioneers into claiming rich land full of potential profit. As Americans were rushing and settling on this land, they quickly formed communities through similar interest, and would eventually appeal to the government to be recognized as a new state. The government then must proclaim whether these new states forming were slave states or free states. It was important to the union that both sides were represented equally through the same number of states. Many compromises were made to fix these issues, but the south began to feel as if they were falling behind.
In order to appease the Southern states, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was inducted to support their southern idea of popular sovereignty, so residents of these territories could now decide by popular vote whether their state would be free or slave (National Parks Service). To claim the new territories as a free/slave, northerners and southerners traveled to vote for what they agreed with. The confrontation became too heated, and eventually a large violent fight, known as The Bleeding Kansas, broke out between to the two sides (National Parks Service). This bloodshed opened the door for what was soon to come. State sovereignty and federalism was always a game of cat and mouse.
Those in the south believed that the states should have the power to decide important issues that concern their territory. Even during the many debates Lincoln and Douglas had, many agreed with the concept that sovereign states should have the right to decide whether they are pro-or-against slavery just as it has always been (Whittier). Contradictorily, the national government had a lot of say into what went into the country, so the southerners began to feel betrayed and concerned. When radical abolitionists began to have a bigger voice in the government, that’s when those in the south spoke out and sent commissioners round the states. These commissioners put many ideas into the minds of men who were on the fence about seceding from the union. The fear was that the government radicals would abolish slavery and take away the very economic fuel that kept the south prosperous. Jefferson Davis put it simply that what the northern tyrannical government was doing took away the natural rights of men (Dew).
When they evaluated all the wronging’s against them the government had done, they no longer felt that the constitution was in review. With the grievances they had against the tyrannical government, the south made their official declaration to leave the union and become independent. Lincoln was the leader of this sinking ship who had to be completely middle ground about issues coming to him from both the north and south. When just the talk of secession began to rise, he stated in his letter to Horace Greeley that he will do whatever it takes to preserve the union (Lincoln).
His efforts were all in vain, so radical violent actions had to be taken to keep America whole. Southerners fought with passion and bravery, but their forces were eventually outnumbered. Reluctantly, the south rejoined the north. The causes of this devastating war were surprisingly resolved for the southerners not after the war, but after the assassination of President Lincoln. These two sides simply fought for what they believed was freedom, and that freedom made a deep ugly scare in our shiny America today.