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The main causes of the war relied in the issue of slavery as well as the right of the states to be part of a federal entity with equal rights and voices. The implications for this war were enormous as it provided a different future for the colonies and for the U.S. As a whole.
The main cause of the war was, as stated, the issue of slavery. In this sense, the Mexican war played an important role. It pointed out the importance of the slavery issue even in an apparently international situation. The Wilmot Proviso is essential in this way. Thus, it represented an additional act to a bill that enabled the U.S. To satisfy the financial needs of Mexico. The act in itself however was not passed because it pointed out the fact that none of the territories acquired during the Mexican war should be opened to slavery; while for the north it would have been a success, for the south it would have been a defeat. In the end the act was not passed but it represented a new reason for quarrel between the two sides. The Free Soil Party was created particularly as a result of these tensions, taking into account the fact that they supported the Wilmot Proviso (Jenkins, 1997).
The Lincoln- Douglas debates, the Freeport Doctrine, the Kansas nebraska act, these were all elements which led to the civil war. They underlined the stand of the South and their desire for control of the issue of slavery in the Congress as well as in the territory. The Civil War also gave birth to a series of issues that came to question the unity of the nation because there was the matter of each state being able to decide for itself in the matter of slavery. Nonetheless, while states in the north questioned the morality and necessity of slave workers, the south considered it to be the cornerstone of their economic prosperity.
The military campaign in the West is considered to be one of the most important theater operations of the Civil War because it represented the point in which the Confederation had to defend from the massive attacks of the Unionists. In this sense, they were forced to use all their natural conditions including the Mississippi River (Jenkins, 1997). In this context the military strategy included Ulysses Grant's attempt to take control of the West. However, General Hallack was also an important element of the strategy. In this sense, "the campaign was an integral part of Halleck's overall strategy for Union success in the West. He rightly believed that establishing Federal control of St. Louis and as much of Missouri as possible was essential before beginning large-scale offensive operations in Tennessee and the Mississippi Valley" (Shea and Hess, 1992, 307)
Thus, in the campaign that started in February 1862 to June the same year, the strategy consisted in the use of the river transportation system to move up the Tennessee. He made use of the limited possibilities of the Confederacy to build defense points in Kentucky, near fort Henry. Thus, it made the movement of the troops easier. On the other side, the armies of the Confederation were split, which made the defeat feasible for the North. However, the misunderstandings and the lack of agreement on the course of action inside the Union's camp made them vulnerable to the incursions of the South. One of the most important battles in this sense was the Battle of Shiloh which proved the need for the North's forces to keep their unity and agreement. Although he did meet impressive challenges from the South, Grant eventually took control of the Mississippi River, despite the fact that he had suffered great human casualties.
The capture of New Orleans in May 1862 represented an important victory for the North because the city was an important strategic point in the war. The next step was the so called Assault of Corinth led by Halleck who failed to advance at a high speed towards Corinth. Nonetheless, the armies of the North joined in the effort and the city was eventually besieged.
General Robert E. Lee is an important figure of the Civil War in America, as part of the eldership of the South armies in Virginia in particular. Despite his later success, in the beginning of the war, he was often faced with unworthy treatment and bickering (Sifakis, 2006). One of the most important actions of Lee's career was the battle for Richmond in which he stopped George B. McClellan from capturing the city. In addition there were several other battles that are considered to be of importance for Lee's career taking into account the fact that at the beginning of his presence in the army he was viewed with doubtful eyes, by the end of his career in the military the general opinion was much improved. Therefore, the battle of Second Manassas, the battle of Antietam, as well as the battle at Fredericksburg in December of 1862 proved his qualities of an important military character.
His confrontations included adversaries such as George B. McClellan, Pope, and Burnside in 1862. However, the following year he encountered General Grant to whom he surrendered.
Also, George B. McClellan is another important general from the Northern armies. He was one of the direct adversaries of Lee at Richmond, where his military capabilities failed him and he succumbed at the hands of Lee. The constant lack of success in the fight against the Southern general made McClellan's supporters to argue against his capabilities as a general and a leader. Therefore, "it was decided in Washington to abandon the campaign (against Richmond) and transfer most of McClellan's men to John Pope's army in northern Virginia. There were charges that McClellan-now called by the press "Mac the Unready" and "The Little Corporal of Unsought Fields "was especially slow in cooperating." (Sifakis, 2006) Despite the fact that he eventually regained his command and prestige, during the fall of 1862, his results were clearly negative.
The war eventually ended with the clear win of the North and the consequences of win were seen throughout the country. After the end of the war, Lincoln underlined the actual reason for going to war in the first place "we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth" (the White House, n.d.).
Abraham Lincoln saw the Civil War to be a necessary evil destined to give back the unity of the American nation. At the same time, the Civil War was a war fought for the equality among men. During the Gettysburg Address, he pointed out that "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure." Therefore, it can be said that the main reason for the Civil War according to Lincoln was to keep united the country. The same idea was expressed in the "House Divided" speech part of the Lincoln- Douglas debate in which he pointed out the fact that the issue of slavery would lead to the destruction of the unity of the nation.
The Reconstruction period represented the consequence of the Civil War. There were legislative consequences of the war such as the 1866 Civil Rights Act. This underlined that "all persons born in the United States (...) are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding" (the Civil Rights Act of 1866).
The amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1864 to include the 13th Amendment was crucial for the U.S. And probably the most important consequence of the war. It implied the abolition of slavery, and pointed out as it stated that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, (...) shall exist within the United…[continue]
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