I. The Menace of Secession
- On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated president, having
slipped into Washington D.C. to thwart assassins,
and in his inaugural
address, he stated that there would be no conflict unless the South
- He marked restoration of the union as his top goal, and offered doubts about it splitting.
- He stated that geographically, the United States could not be split (which was true).
- A split U.S. brought up questions about the sharing of the national debt and the allocation of federal territories.
- A split U.S. also pleased the European countries, since the U.S.
was the only major display of democracy in the Western
with a split U.S., the Monroe Doctrine could be undermined as well if
the new C.S.A. allowed Europe
to gain a foothold with it.
II. South Carolina Assails Fort Sumter
- Most of the forts in the South had relinquished their power to the
Confederacy, but Fort Sumter was among the two that
since its supplies were running out against a besieging South
Carolinian army, Lincoln had a problem
of how to deal with the
- Lincoln wisely chose to send supplies to the fort, and he told the
South Carolinian governor that the ship to the fort
provisions, not reinforcements.
- However, to the South, provisions were reinforcements, and on April
12, 1861, cannons were fired onto the fort; after
34 hours of
non-lethal firing, the fort surrendered.
- Northerners were inflamed by the South’s actions, and Lincoln
now called on 75,000 volunteers; so many came that
they had to be
- On April 19 and 27, Lincoln also called a naval blockade on the South that was leaky at first but soon clamped down tight.
- The Deep South (which had already seceded), felt that Lincoln was
now waging an aggressive war, and was joined by four
states: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
- The capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery, AL to Richmond, VA.
III. Brother’s Blood and Border Blood
- The remaining Border States (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland) were
crucial for both sides, as they would have almost doubled
manufacturing capacity of the South and increased its supply of horses
and mules by half.
- They’re called “border states” because…
- they are on the North-South border and…
- they are slave-states. They have not seceded, but at any moment, they just might.
- Thus, to retain them, Lincoln used moral persuasion…and methods of dubious legality:
- In Maryland, he declared martial law in order to retain a state
that would isolate Washington D.C. within Confederate
territory if it
went to the South
- He also sent troops to western Virginia and Missouri to secure those areas.
- At the beginning, in order to hold the remaining Border States,
Lincoln repeatedly said that the war was to save the
Union, not free
the slaves, since a war for the slaves’ freedom would have lost
the Border States.
- Most of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw,
Chickasaw, Seminole) sided with the South, although parts
Cherokee and most of the Plains Indians were pro-North.
- The war was one of brother vs. brother, with the mountain men of
what’s now West Virginia sending some 50,000
men to the Union.
The nation’s split was very visible here, as Virginia literally
IV. The Balance of Forces
- The South, at the beginning of the war, did have many advantages:
- It only had to fight to a draw to win, since all it had to do was
keep the North from invading and taking over all
of its territory.
- It had the most talented officers, including Robert E. Lee and
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and most of
the Southerners had
been trained in a military-style upbringing and education since they
were children, as opposed to
the tame Northerners. Many top Southern
young men attended military schools like West Point, The Citadel, or
- However, the South was handicapped by a shortage of factories and
manufacturing plants, but during the war, those developed
in the South.
- Still, as the war dragged on, the South found itself with a
shortage of shoes, uniforms, blankets, clothing, and food,
didn’t reach soldiers due to supply problems.
- However, the North had a huge economy, many more men available to
fight, and it controlled the sea, though its officers
well-trained as some in the South.
- As the war dragged on, Northern strengths beat Southern advantages.
V. Dethroning King Cotton
- The South was depending on foreign intervention to win the war, but didn’t get it.
- While the European countries wanted the Union to be split (which
would strengthen their nation, relatively speaking),
their people were
pro-North and anti-slavery, and sensing that this was could eliminate
slavery once and for all, they
would not allow any intervention by
their nations on behalf of the South. The reason for the pro-North,
stance by the people, was the effect of Uncle Tom’s
Cabin—being lowly wage earners, the common people felt
- Still, the Southern ideas was that the war would produce a shortage
of cotton, which would draw England and others
into the war, right?
- In the pre-war years, cotton production had been immense, and thus, England and France had huge surpluses of cotton.
- As the North won Southern territory, it sent cotton and food over to Europe.
- India and Egypt upped their cotton production to offset the hike in the price of cotton.
- So, King Wheat and King Corn (of the North) beat King Cotton of the
South, since Europe needed the food much more than
it needed the cotton.
VI. The Decisiveness of Diplomacy
- The South still hoped for foreign intervention, and it almost got it on a few occasions.
- Late in 1861, a Union warship stopped the British mail steamer the
Trent and forcibly removed two Confederate diplomats
bound for Europe.
- Britain was outraged at the upstart Americans and threatened war,
but luckily, Lincoln released the prisoners and tensions
“One war at a time,” he said.
- British-built sea vessels that went to the Confederacy were also a problem.
- In 1862, the C.S.S. Alabama escaped to the Portuguese Azores, took
on weapons and crew from Britain, but never sailed
into a Confederate
base, thus using a loophole to help the South.
- Charles Francis Adams persuaded Britain not to build any more ships
for the Confederacy, since they might someday be
used against England.
VII. Foreign Flare-Ups
- Britain also had two Laird rams, Confederate warships that could
destroy wooden Union ships and wreak havoc on the
North, but after the
threat of war by the U.S., Britain backed down and used those ships for
its Royal Navy.
- Near Canada, Confederate agents plotted (and sometimes succeeded)
to burn down American cities, and as a result, there
mini-armies (raised mostly by British-hating Irish-Americans) sent to
- Napoleon III of France also installed a puppet government in Mexico
City, putting in the Austrian Archduke Maximilian
as emperor of Mexico,
but after the war, the U.S. threatened violence, and Napoleon left
Maximilian to doom at the hands
of a Mexican firing squad.
VIII. President Davis Versus President Lincoln
- The problem with the South was that it gave states the ability to
secede in the future, and getting Southern states
to send troops to
help other states was always difficult to do. By definition in a
confederacy, national power was weak.
- Jefferson Davis was never really popular and he overworked himself.
- Lincoln, though with his problems, had the benefit of leading an
established government and grew patient and relaxed
as the war dragged
IX. Limitations on Wartime Liberties
- Abe Lincoln did make some tyrannical acts during his term as
president, such as illegally proclaiming a blockade, proclaiming
without Congressional consent, and sending in troops to the Border
States, but he justified his actions by saying
that such acts
weren’t permanent, and that he had to do those things in order to
preserve the Union.
- Such actions included the advancement of $2 million to three
private citizens for war purposes, the suspension of habeas
that anti-Unionists could be arrested without a formal charge, and the
intimidation of voters in the Border
- The Confederate states’ refusal to sacrifice some
states’ rights led to the handicapping of the South,
to its ultimate downfall.
X. Volunteers and Draftees: North and South
- At first, there were numerous volunteers, but after the initial
enthusiasm slacked off, Congress passed its first conscription
(the draft), one that angered the poor because rich men could hire a
substitute instead of entering the war
just by paying $300 to Congress.
- As a result, many riots broke out, such as one in New York City.
- Volunteers manned more than 90% of the Union army, and as
volunteers became scarce, money was offered to them in return
service; still, there were many deserters.
- The South had to resort to a draft nearly a year before the North,
and it also had its privileges for the rich—those
who owned or
oversaw 20 slaves or more were exempt from the draft.
XI. The Economic Stresses of War
- The North passed the Morrill Tariff Act, increasing tariff rates by about 5 to 10%, but war soon drove those rates even
- The Washington Treasury also issued greenback paper money totaling
nearly $450 million, but this money was very unstable
and sank to as
low as 39 cents per gold dollar.
- The federal Treasury also netted $2.6 billion in the sale of bonds.
- The National Banking System was a landmark of the war, created to
establish a standard bank-note currency, and banks
that joined the
National Banking System could buy government bonds and issue sound
- The National Banking Act was the first step toward a unified
national banking network since 1836, when the Bank of
the United States
was killed by Andrew Jackson.
- In the South, runaway inflation plagued the Confederates, and
overall, in the South inflation went up to 9000%, as
“just” 80% in the North.
XII. The North’s Economic Boom
- The North actually emerged from the Civil War more prosperous than
before, since new factories had been formed and
a millionaire class was
born for the first time in history.
- However, many Union suppliers used shoddy equipment in their supplies, such as using cardboard as the soles of shoes.
- Sizes for clothing were invented, and the reaper helped feed millions.
- In 1859, a discovery of petroleum oil sent people to Pennsylvania.
- Women gained new advances in the war, taking the jobs left behind
by men going off to battle, and other women posed
as men and became
soldiers with their husbands.
- Clara Barton and Dorothea Dix helped transform nursing from a lowly
service to a respected profession, and in the South,
Sally Tompkins ran
a Richmond infirmary for wounded Confederate soldiers and was awarded
the rank of Captain by Jefferson
XIII. A Crushed Cotton Kingdom
- The South was ruined by the war, as transportation collapsed and
supplies of everything became scarce, and by the end
of the war, the
South claimed only 12% of the national wealth as opposed to 30% before
the war, and it’s per capita
income was now 2/5 that of
Northerners, as opposed to 2/3 of Northerners before the war.
- Still, though many Southerners were resourceful and spirited, the South just couldn’t win.
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