The South had become the cotton empire and approximately 4 million slaves were employed; therefore, slavery appeared to be a necessity for the Southern states. Large amounts of cotton could be raised cheaply with slave labor. Though the institution existed all across colonial America at one time, it began to leave men with uneasy consciences. (Catton & McPherson, 1988, p. 8) In 1854 the Republican Party was born and its central theme was to no longer permit the spread of slavery into the territories and Southerners were quick to respond.
The South threatened to secede from the Union if a Republican was elected and in 1860 Republican Abraham Lincoln was declared the President of the United States. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina declared that it was no longer a part of the Union and over the next six weeks other southern states followed suit. In February 1861 the succeeded southern states established the Confederate States of America and Jefferson Davis was elected as their President. Upon Lincolns inauguration he charged that states could not simply just withdraw from the Union, however he also promised not to take military action unless acted upon first.
This was intolerable for the South to accept and they began to cut off supplies to Fort Sumter. When Lincoln retaliated by sending a supply patrol and made the promise to refrain from sending arms, ammunition or additional troops the Confederate Government reacted with force. On April 12, 1861 the Confederate army surrounded Fort Sumter and after several hours of attack Anderson surrendered. Though no life was taken, this military action would begin the Civil War. During the first two years of the war, the slavery issue would be avoided the North would fight for reunification of the Union and the South would fight for independence.
In 1862 Abraham Lincoln would once again focus on the fact that the war surrounded the immoral act of slavery the undying vitality and drive of Northern antislavery men must be brought into full, vigorous support of the war effort. (Catton & McPherson, 1988, p. 105) In order to make this happen, Lincoln realized he must officially declare the Union against slavery. After the Victory of Antietam in 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation all slaves held in a state or part of a state which was in rebellion should be then, thenceforward and forever free.
(Catton & McPherson, 1988, p. 105) The Emancipation Proclamation was a real turning point in the Civil War because attention was once again drawn to the foundation that sparked the military action. Both North and South had gotten so wrapped up in the excitement of the war that even the soldiers didnt grasp the concept of battle. In the beginning soldiers were excited and went off to war because they wanted to join the cause but in the end these men were poorly trained, lacked military guidance and had to learn the meaning of war as they went along.
The real victims were the soldiers because neither side believed that a battle would actually take place, however once the violence became a reality it was too late to turn back. The Southern states fought hard as they clung to a civilization based upon the archaic institution of slavery. These states did not see the reality behind their slavery-dependent society. The South had fought against the Industrial Revolution prior to the war and slavery had actually damaged their society.
The South lacked a skilled working class, was comprised of predominantly rural areas and the institution prevented industrialism. However their passion and valor for the cause was intense and the North did not have that same intensity for their cause but possessed the resources. The reality was that many soldiers of the North didnt agree with slavery; however they could tolerate it without much trouble. Lincoln knew that in order to demolish slavery that he must instill this same passion for the cause into the Northern population.
The president modified the Emancipation Proclamation and in the end, the Northern army focused on the cause and destroyed slavery. The South made a huge mistake they believed that they would defend slavery with arms; however by the mid 19th Century it was far too fragile for that. Its demise was inevitable. In the end this institution could only stay alive because people tolerated its existence. As the war progressed the North gained advantage. The Union army moved throughout the Southern states and with each defeat slavery was conquered.
Towards the end of the Civil War even the South began to demolish the institution. The Confederacy voted a bill into action that allowed Negro slaves to become soldiers for the Confederate army. An entity that was so passionate to preserve this inhumane institution suddenly enacted a bill that implied freedom to the enslaved race. To turn a slave into a soldier in essence became the act of a race losing its chains; therefore the entire race should ultimately be free. Even with its bitter opposition to the onset of the idea, the southern population eventually agreed.
The end of the Civil War brought about the fall of slavery and the Union would be reunited at the price of bitterness and injustice. (Catton & McPherson, 1988, p. 269) Future generations would then discover the difficult process of burying the racial prejudice that great untouchable which, many layers down, lay at the abyssal depth of the entire conflict the Civil War. (Catton & McPherson, 1988, p. 269)
Catton, B. , & McPherson, J. M. (1988). The Civil War. New York, New York: American Heritage, Inc.