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Essay/Term paper: Another civil war

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American Civil War

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Socioeconomic reasons for the causes and outcome of the

Civil War Analyzing the causes and the eventual outcome of

the American Civil War can be a difficult task when you

look at all the issues at once. The fields of the political,

economic and sociological differences between the Union

and the Confederacy are were we find the bulk of the

answers as why the two regions of the United States

separated. When trying to discuss the Civil War we must

first explain why the Confederate states seceded and just as

importantly, how they were defeated. When trying to find the

causes and the outcomes of the Civil War, I've chosen to

bypass the political reasons and would rather discuss the

areas of economic and sociological conflict. It is hard to

discuss one of these aspects without showing how closely it

is tied into the other. Economy is the child of sociological

conditions and in turn sociological conditions predict an

areas economic success and potential. Because of this strong

interrelationship between the two, the word "socioeconomic"

is best suited to describe this important area of conflict

between the North and the South. Almost a question of

civilization versus barbarism the war between the North and

the South showed America who held more power and

whose way would lead us into a future for all Americans.

The North and South were divided along an invisible

economic line. States in the North were more industrialized

than states in the South. In the South, cotton and tobacco

provided the economy. These plantation crops created an

economic situation based entirely upon agriculture. This was

in stark contrast too the heavily industrialized Northern cities

in America. Slave labor provided the workforce on the

Southern plantations and along with crops were the

backbone of Southern economic power. Slave labor, which

turned the wheels on the vast plantations growing tobacco

and cotton, created an entirely different socioeconomic

climate then the one found in the North. The inherent conflict

between the progressive, industrialized, urbane North and

the plantation lifestyle, made possible by cotton, tobacco

and slave labor, ultimately revealed a nation sharply divided

along socioeconomic lines. The Civil War or "the war

between the states", was the inevitable outcome of a

developing nation uncertain as to whether it should remain

progressive and industrialized or genteel and slowmoving.

Unquestionably, the tobacco economy of the South as well

as its cotton products were of vast importance to the entire

nation. Still, the social structure of plantation life with its

legacy and dependency upon slave labor, would not be

tolerated by Northern states for much longer. A continued

cry for emancipation and abolition by president Lincoln and

others, both in the North and the South, fueled a war that

teared our nation apart. However, the Southern lifestyle was

not all mint juleps and afternoons on the verandah. While the

climate in the South was balmy and well conditioned to crop

growing, many Northerners mistakenly assumed the South

and its people were lazy. They rejected the Southern work

ethic as "no work ethic at all." Many Northerners believed

that they were the power base of the nations economy, and

in many aspects they were. The Northern culture was

disassociating itself on many levels from its Southern

counterpart. The debate over slavery was "the straw that

broke the camels back." Without the slave labor, Southern

plantation owners and crop growers would be forced to

restructure their entire reality. The Southern plantation

aristocracy was a stunning concept, but times were changing.

Even though it was our agriculture that brought our nation its

first economic power, our growth towards industrialization

grew more important by the minute. Pressures from across

the Atlantic to abolish slavery were being heeded by the

North and shunned by the South. No European or foreign

power would dictate policy and lifestyle to the headstrong

Southern plantation culture. Internal strife, yielding nothing

less than Civil War, would ultimately keep a domestic issue

domestic. The "statesman of the lost cause", strongly

believed in the honor, culture, economy and structure of the

South. On the opposite side, Northerners were no less

passionate about their cause. The Civil War emerged as a

spectacular and inevitable ending to a prolonged clash of

cultures- both social and economic. The obvious outcome of

the Civil War was the defeat of the Southern states and their

Confederate army, government and way of life. The North

had forged a policy to abolish slavery and the North had

power, money, talent and hardware (all products of their

particular industrialized economy and culture) to go through

with it. After the embargo on Southern goods and blockade

all but a few nails were left to hammer into the Confederate

coffin. The cultural and economic policies forged in the

South were no match for the Northern war- machine. The

Northern war- machine was the product of a powerful

economy which included shipping, importing, exporting,

banking, factories and much else. The South had crops as

far as the eye could see. Were the North had factories and

ports, the South had plantations and slave auctions. The

nations power structure was basically in the North. By 1861,

the North was in a position of total dominance. They had a

better army, better weapons, and were in a better position to

win. The South had a lot of pride and product, but not much

else. Another major factor is that the population density on

the South was overwhelmed by the North. The South

following secession from the Union began with creating their

own nation. They had to print currency, form political

structure and organize an army -all things the North already

had. They had to develop an army and system that did not

exist before. Even though the Confederacy yielded Robert E

Lee, arguably the most famous military figure if the war, he

was most notable because he lost. He lost because the

fledgling confederacy was a "house of cards" waiting to

collapse. They never had a realistic chance although they put

up an awe inspiring four year fight. The socioeconomic

differences between the North and the South were

astounding. From the beginnings of secession the South was

fighting a losing battle. The moral stand and power of the

North was the main reason why the South disliked them.

They two never seemed to agree on anything for too long.

The American Civil War was a tragic necessity for a country

whose commitment to democracy made its many of its

institutions, like slavery, obsolete in time. Politics aside, the

socioeconomic reasons for the causes and the eventual

outcome of the Civil War are the most interesting and

probing aspects of two vastly different cultures destined for

battle. Courtesy of chew (1996) University of Maryland  

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