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The war and the years that preceded it led to the creation of social classes in our country. These classes consisted of the rich upper-class down to the poor immigrants; and each class had its own rules and regulations by which it lived. To this day, a large part of our society is based on classes. Socially, the war divided races and started what would lead to racism, bigotry, and the separation of black and whites. The war had served as a pathway to change but it would be several decades before the racial views of whites would change and allow for blacks to be treated fairly. Another thing that changed shortly after the war was women's rights. This movement paved the way for women to be considered equal and treated fairly (Ferland, 2009).
Ever since the Civil War ended there has been great discussion over whether or not the crisis that led to the war could have been resolved peacefully. "The traditional restraints under which society existed at the time were eroding as quickly as democracy was extending. The two-party system's stability may have held the union together, but its collapse in the 1850s led to greater sectional conflict, rather than acting as a deterrent to it" (Ferland, 2009). In order for democracy to function, there needs to be broad groups that have varying interests that are all represented. And in order for social conflicts to come to peaceful resolutions the major parties have to share a set of fundamental values. These key elements were not present during the mid 19th century, which made a peaceful resolution nearly impossible (Ferland, 2009).
The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties which were about 3% of the total population. This included about 620,000 soldier deaths. Two-thirds of these died from disease. About 4 million slaves were freed between the years of 1861-1865. Based on the 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 had died in the war, including 6% in the North and an extraordinary 18% in the South. One reason for the high number of deaths during the war was the use of Napoleonic tactics which included charges. With the introduction of more accurate rifled barrels, Minie balls and near the end of the war for the Union army, repeating firearms such as the Spencer repeating rifle, soldiers were slaughtered when standing in lines in the open. It was because of this that trench warfare was developed and heavily used during World War I (Civil War Overview, n.d.).
At the end of the war, one president was murdered and another was imprisoned. There was tremendous uncertainty throughout both the North and South. Families everywhere mourned the deaths of countless young men. Four million Americans who were once slaves were freed. The entire social system and along with much of the South's wealth had been destroyed, and for the first time, many Americans knew the bitter taste of total defeat (Legacies, n.d.).
The reconstruction process of this country truly began during the war as President Abraham Lincoln experimented with different policies to help try and restore the Confederacy to its proper association with the federal government. This was a confusing and contradictory time in which all the former Confederate states were readmitted to the United States union, African-Americans, were elected to political office for the first time; and the country saw the Ku Klux Klan develop. All of this led to unrest in this country from which we would realize repercussions for many years to come. Despite all the bad, there were some good things that came from this war. There were many innovations that were produced or made popular that we use and take for granted today. Such things as metal ships, the marine propeller, the can opener, clothes labeled with sizes, and shoes fitted for the right and left feet (Legacies, n.d.).
The Civil War had laid the groundwork for a rapid postwar economic growth and the industrialization of America. "It was stimulated by such federal initiatives as the transcontinental railroad, homesteading in the West, land grant colleges and a national paper currency known as the "greenback"(Legacies, n.d.). The South, which had been devastated by war, shared little of this economic growth that the nation as a whole did until World War II (Legacies, n.d.).
The Civil War, as bad as it was, did many great things for this country. It taught people that they should stand up and fight for what they believe in, no matter what the cost. It laid the foundation for our nation to become a great powerhouse with which no one else wants to tangle. Abraham Lincoln was a great leader during this time period and did many things that have had great influence on our nation over the years. From the Emancipation Proclamation to the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln's thoughts and speeches have been great motivators in the development of this nation into what we know it as today. It is a nation whose people are free and able to grow and prosper to the best of their abilities, while realizing and living out the American dream.
"Civil War Overview." 2008. Son of the South. 26 April 2009
Ferland, R.W. 2009. AuthorsDen.com. 26 April 2009
"Leaders of the Civil War." n.d. The Civil War for Kids. 26 April 2009
"Legacies." n.d. The American Civil War Center. 27 April 2009…[continue]
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