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Why the American Civil War Was Necessary Essay

History Term Paper

The Civil War, also known as, “The War Between the States” , was necessary, made many positive steps for the great nation to unify again and to incorporate slaves as citizens of that nation. The South refused to compromise about slavery and they decided to create their own establishment, The Confederate States of America. President Abraham Lincoln’s goal coming into the war was to unify all the states and to relieve African-Americans (World Book). I agree with both of those statements and consider them to be valid reasons for war.

First off, if slavery was to be abolished in all of America, the North needed to take action. The words exchanged back and forth between the divided nation were not getting anywhere. The South were very stubborn and continued to rely on slaves to do most of the hard labor. They always seemed to be unsatisfied with laws and acts passed which caused them to split from the Union.

One attempt for an agreement between the regions was the Compromise of 1850. This compromise tried to make everybody happy about the issue of slavery in states. The things that pleased the Northern states were that California was assumed a “free state”, slave trade was ended, and that the territories of New Mexico and Utah would have popular sovereignty. The one large plus for the South was that the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.

The Fugitive Slave Act, was a very reprehensible topic. It stated that all slaves must be returned to their owners, and it was one of the main causes of the Civil War. When the Pearl Incident occurred, which was when “76 slaves tried to escape from Washington D.C,” people had mixed reactions (Wikipedia). Once again there was an argument dealing on the topic of slaves and slavery between the North and the South.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected, which by the way he did not receive a single electoral vote from a Southern state, he pledged to prevent the expansion of slavery. However, he did not say anything about ending it in states where it was already present. None of this persuaded the South and they started up their threats of secession. Negotiations continued until finally the first states started to secede, and on Febuary 9, 1861 the Confederate States of America established their own government. “The original seven states included South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.” Once Lincoln sent out for troops, several more Southern states followed their lead. These included Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee (Wikipedia). This government didn’t work well and in time they lost the war.

At the time of the American Civil War, the percentage of white families living in the lower South who owned African-American slaves was 36.7%. “The total slave population in the South was 3,500,000 in 1860” (Wikipedia). Blacks were helplessly being forced into labor in the South and many rebellions sprung up but did not help much. President Lincoln was well aware of what was taking place in the Confederate States and he tried to do something about it during the War (119, Jordan). It was very unfair for the South to rely on slaves for their labor. They didn’t pay the African-Americans hardly anything at all, they treated them like dirt, and they worked from dawn until dusk. A nation that is based on this type of economy was doomed from the start.

On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This order consisted of two different orders. Slaves living in the Confederate States of America were free. The other part of the proclamation described the exact states that this applied to. Instead of when the Union captured Confederate slaves and returning them to their owners, now they could free the slaves, and recruit them to join in on the cause for complete abolition and unification.

Following the Proclamation, African-Americans could participate in the War. After abolition however, they were still heavily segregated, but they at least got to join in. In the Union army, African-Americans were altogether in the same groups when fighting and were led by white men. Usually they were put in bad positions, but they still got the chance to fight for their freedom and earned respect amongst each other. On the other hand, in the South, African-Americans had no choice. If their owners wanted them to fight, they would enlist them into the Confederate army. Obviously, not many of them wanted to because after all, the Southern states were battling for the right to continue on with slaves.

Another act passed that dealt with the ending of slavery was the Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves. If African-American slaves were caught by the south before this by the South, they were shot. It threatened dismissal from service if one was to return a slave to their former owner. The United States Congress made it one step closer to ending the evil and cruel times of slavery of African-Americans and any other persons forced into labor. This voided the act passed earlier, The Fugitive Slave Act.

On December 18th, 1865, the 13th amendment was declared. It ended and abolished slavery. Before it was confirmed, slavery was still present in Delaware and Kentucky. This amendment gives full power to the Congress to enforce it. Still today this is in effect to prohibit slavery.

After African-Americans were free from slavery, they needed help desperately, so the Congress decidedly to aid them. On March 3rd, 1865, the Freedmen’s Bureau. This was a program set up to newly freed men and women. The main assistance it provided was in education. “By 1870 there were more than a thousand schools in the South for freedmen” (Freedmen’s Online).

A second reason why the American Civil War was necessary was because our country needed both the South and North regions to survive. Each region relied on one another for resources, and when it’s all just one country it is a lot easier to trade around. The North was a greatly industrialized zone at the time, while the South was exceedingly agricultural. There are some things that just depend on your geographical location. You can’t grow a certain plant just anywhere. The South happened to be a great place for raising crops of various types. Up in the northern section of America, they realized this and there was a more industrial approach.

A successful country is built up on many different views and ideas put all together. When everything is mixed together it make s a more complete nation that can be beneficial to more than one specific group of people. Sometimes when a problem arises, it’s better to face it and make compromises. Rather than turn away and make your own rules, like the Confederate States of America.

28 major battles later, Generals Grant and Lee met up at Appomattox court house where Lee, of the Confederates, surrendered. The North had finally won the war that was basically over slavery. The final terms were written out by Union General Grant to Confederate General Lee:”General R.E. Lee,General…This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their paroles, and the laws in force where they may reside” (Surrender Terms).

In this it clearly states that Grant wants a very peaceful agreement. He was overwhelmingly generous to give Lee and the rest of the Confederate soldiers such terms. They got to keep all their gear and just go home. As long as they follow the rules of where they reside, they get off clean. Lincoln reached his goal of saving the Union after all.

Too bad he only experienced a peaceful nation for a short while. 6 days after the Confederates surrendered, Lincoln was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth murdered him on April 16th, 1865. Lincoln was a truly remarkable man with great morals. He was a strong supporter equal rights for all humans and believed slavery was unethical. He definitely made great strides for our country. The best thing for America was to be one solid nation and to work together and he knew it. At the time there was a large number of people who thought he was crazy, including all the southern states. If they could only see now what our nation is like and that it is pretty much based on Lincoln’s different principles. He always looked at each and every issue from both sides of the argument and made a decision on what was better for the country (Abraham Lincoln). Radical Congress’ main goal was to assist African-Americans to integrate into the society and the 13th amendment was passed.

Overall, the Civil War was an exponential factor in the abolition of slavery, it aided in the unification of our country as well as in other issues too. Sometimes violence is the answer in order to get a message across. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t going to let the Confederate States of America fly. A larger nation with greater and more varied resources will do better than two that specialize in something. The North and its industrialized region and the South with its agricultural aspect together make a complete realm.

Slavery is and was the most cruel thing that can take place in a country. Nobody should ever be forced into labor with no pay and horrendous treatment. Slavery is the ultimate abomination in United States history and we would not nearly as far as we are in our laws regarding equal rights without the Civil War. Although we cannot erase the past, we can look back and admire the goals and ambitions of the Northern army as they clashed with the Confederates towards freedom and justice for all humanity, and to create a single, powerful nation of the United States of America.


“Abraham Lincoln.” Past Presidents. 19 Dec. 2007 .

“American Civil War.” Wikipedia. 18 Dec. 2007 .

“American Civil War.” World Book 2005. 2005.

Engs, Robert F. “Slavery in Civil War Era.” Slavery During the Civil War (2002). 17 Dec. 2007 .

Jordan, Robert P. The Civil War. American Society of Civil Engineers, 1969.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era. Oxford UP US, 1988.

“Proposal and Ratification.” 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1997). 20 Dec. 2007 “Records Relating to Freedmen’s Labor.” Freedmen’s Bureau Online (1997). 20 Dec. 2007 .

“Surrender Terms At Appomattox, 1865.” Surrender At Appomattox, 1865 (1997).
19 Dec. 2007 .

“The Civil War and Emancipation.” Peoples & Events (2002). 18 Dec. 2007 .

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