Civil war ended slavery? Civil war was the greatest war defending human rights in America? Lincoln was the great person who made all that happen? I don’t think so. I mean when we were in 3rd grade we learn all these wonderful things about our 16th president who ended slavery and how the Civil War was a fight over freedom for the slaves and human rights and equality and…. NO. No, Lincoln wasn’t that amazing a president (though noteworthy). No, the Civil War wasn’t about freedom for the slaves. No, none of these things are as glorious as we think they are. For one thing, though Lincoln was good at his job, he was only considered great because he was made president the same time the Civil War happened and Lincoln’s side didn’t lose. As for the Civil War, it didn’t start because of the abolition movement but because of an excuse to start war. I’m sure the Civil War is one of those things the people of the United States think they can brag about but come on, is it really?
Abraham Lincoln was the president elected during the beginning of the Civil War and I think that most of his fame came from the fact that he was elected during a time of war and also that they didn’t lose that war. First of all, the Republican Party that nominated Lincoln did that because Lincoln was the one with the best candidate with the least enemies or else they would have nominated William H. Seward (After all, politics isn’t just about the best people for the job. It’s about picking people that the rest of the nation likes even if they are useless. Wow, our system is soooo useful.). During the war, Lincoln also wasn’t the best strategist. He had to use guess-and-check to see which of the Union generals was actually competent enough in war. If it wasn’t for Ulysses S. Grant showing up as he did in the Civil War, the Union would have lost and the South would have seceded. It was almost by a stroke of luck Lincoln was able to grow famous. (His Gettysburg Address was famous by chance too because back then, it wasn’t that popular with the people. It’s only now that we pay attention to it.)
Now that I’m done ranting about presidents, it’s time for the actual war. First of all, I like to put it out there that the Civil War DIDN’T START WITH EMANCIPATION. It was only halfway through the war did the Unionists add “freeing slaves” onto their list of reasons to fight! The fact that it took so long is one reason for me to think that their determination to fight for the slaves was half-baked. The way I see it, the Civil War was a bickering episode between North and South, who acted like children, while wasting hundreds and thousands of American lives in the process. From the beginning, North and South were butting heads. The North and South were part of a United States that wasn’t meant to be in the first place. Composed of 13 colonies completely different colonies, it’s a miracle enough that the northern colonies were similar enough to be called the North and the southern colonies the South or else the North and South would both have had another civil war within themselves. Let me tell the story of the Civil War in another way:
Starting 1607 was when the stage was set in North America for North and South to be born. From then on lasting till 1776, North and South were growing up on their own in the same house. Then, during the American Revolution, North and South, now old enough to be independent (I guess 18 years old), wanted to go off on their own but their father, Great Britain, wouldn’t let them. So there was war. Then North and South decided to help each other out and so changed the name of their house from the 13 British colonies to the United States. From then on till 1861, North and South continued to grow up. At first, they were able to agree with each other but as decade and decade passed, they realized the other was getting too different. North was an industrialist who was trying to change the way things had always worked, wanting more and more (i.e. agriculture). South was a farmer and a lazy bum that didn’t try to make progress in life. Those weren’t the only things that were different but eventually, North and South could clearly see how different both were and could no longer live in the same house so war happened. Fortunately, after the two fought and aired out all their grievances about each other, though South lost, they were somewhat able to reconcile and still remain in the same house together.
That is what the Civil War looks like to me so no, it wasn’t about slavery. Slavery was just the biggest, most disagreeable difference between North and South that gave them an excuse to fight. It’s almost as if slavery was the visible culmination of the invisible differences that has always existed between North and South. As for the reason why South lost, I see it to be due to the fact that South couldn’t adapt to changing times when push comes shove. They always rejected industrialism and anti-slavery but they couldn’t see that times were changing. Both Mexico and Britain, who ruled Canada and its islands in the Indies, had abolished slavery and the US was surrounded by free nations. It’s not just that South couldn’t easily change but that South resisted it which was why war happened. All in all, Lincoln was the “accidental” president who managed to win and the Civil War was the climax of the quarrels between North and South with slavery being the excuse for it. In the end, I suppose some noteworthy results were accomplished but still, Lincoln and the Civil War weren’t so great after all.
The visible culmination of North and South’s differences literally tearing them apart.
~ The American Pageant (11th edition)