How the South Won and Lost the Civil War

  The struggle and divide between the North and the South of the United States goes way way way back. One could argue that it goes as far back as the colonial period.; however, let’s skip forward to the time period of when the North and South REALLY started to divide. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, an invention that guaranteed the reviltilization of slavery. Cotton seeds could now be more efficiently produced; however free labor was needed to plant and pick the cotton. After this, the slave population in the south exploded. Conditions for slaves were harsh in the south… many were separated from their families, beaten, and raped for not obeying their masters. By the 1830s, abolitionism in the north grew; aided by the Second Great Awakening in the north and the fact that numerous northerners found slavery to be immoral and barbaric. Slavery and the divide over slavery would be a huge factor in causing and deciding the Civil War.

  For more than two decades after the 1830s, slavery and new land were extremely important in causing the war. During that time, the United States expanded significantly during that period under the idea of Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny allowed for Americans to believe that they were God’s favorite and they needed to spread their influence to the whole continent. Texas was annexed and the land hungry president, Polk, started and won the Mexican American War. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo gave half of Mexico’s land to America, largely increasing the amount of unsettled land. With more land in the west, of course people would migrate to the west.  The migration of people to the west sapped the South’s manpower and also stifled the growth of slavery. As the 1860s approached, the Southerners and the Northerners became increasingly polarised politically, culturally, and economically. The South supported states’ rights and slavery, all the while being mostly agricultural. While the North was more populous, industrialized, and anti-slavery. The eventual election of Abraham Lincoln and siege of Fort Sumter caused the Southern states to secede, and thus the Civil War began.

  The South was almost doomed from the start Civil War. With fewer people, fewer railroads, less industrialization, fewer people, and a weaker economy, the South was in no shape to wage total war on the more prosperous, and much stronger North. The add on to the misfortunes of the South, foreign powers nearly aided it, but didn’t due to the North. Nevertheless, the South had better generals and the objective was to just wear out the North. And for the next few years, the South seemed as if it could really wear out the North. But at the Battle of Gettysburg coupled with the Emancipation Proclamation, the hopes of the South all but ended. Much of their free labor was undermined through that proclamation and ten percent of the fighting men in the Confederacy were dead, wounded, captured, or missing. Many key generals were dead, and that was the farthest into the Union the Confederates ever penetrated. Two years after, General Grant of the Union defeated the Confederates in Virginia and the war was ended. Reconstruction began.

  After the war and during reconstruction, the South was completely devastated, economically, socially, and politically. For twelve long years the North tried to reconstruct society such that blacks were given equal rights. However, the white southerners resisted change. The North was divided between the Radical and Moderate Republican, and reconstruction was forgotten by the northerners after economic and social hardships. With all those factors working together, reconstruction started to die off in the 1870s. While it is true that the Reconstruction helped the blacks gain more freedom and the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments were enacted. However, once Hayes pulled Union troops out of the South, reconstruction formally died. Souther governments reverted to old racism and status. Law were passed against the blacks and blacks were also terrorized. The economy was still based off of agriculture and the blacks were reduced to sharecropping. In the end, the South won because even though they were devastated, they still preserved their way of life from before the war.

  African-American workers in a cotton field.

Are these people slaves or sharecroppers???

Works Cited:


Sharecroppers. State Archives of Florida. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <;.

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