A Historical Analysis And Comparison

1522 words - 7 pages

Many events throughout the course history, while maybe not at first glance, present significant parallels to one another. The American Civil War, which ended in 1865, shares several similarities with the occurrence of The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Although it occurred several years later, The Great Fire devastated Chicago and affected the city in way parallel to the Civil War’s influence upon the South. Both events caused a destruction of infrastructure and population. They also propelled the nation into depression at a time when national unity proved limited. However, The Great Chicago Fire and the Civil War allowed the nation to redefine itself and enter a new era. The reconstruction of the Southern states as well as Chicago, after the devastating events, also present many similarities. The Chicago World’s Fair, also known as The Columbian Exposition, sought to restore Chicago and retain its former wealth. Comparatively, the reconstruction of the South also allowed the southern states to re-establish themselves as a prosperous and contributing part of the United States. Both events also led the nation to shift its focus from the catastrophic wreckage of the past and initially placed the foundations of modern America. Despite what one might initially perceive, the Civil War, the Great Chicago Fire, the reconstruction of the South, and The Chicago World’s Fair exhibit several similarities, and provide substantial basis of comparison to one another.
The Great Chicago Fire holds many parallels to the occurrence of the Civil War. The Civil War not only caused the physical destruction of the South but also the destruction of a way of life. Although not of the same magnitude, the Chicago fire possessed a similar outcome. Before the war, the South presented itself as a flourishing society. Its agricultural industry proved profitable and acted as a large source of income in the United States. Comparably, the city of Chicago’s agronomy proved lucrative as well. The opening of the Union Stockyard in 1865 initially defined Chicago’s heritage as an agricultural leader of the world (“Chicago Agriculture”). Chicago and the antebellum era South presented themselves as wealthy and thriving societies. However, both possessed a large population of impoverished inhabitants, namely the slaves in the South and the immigrants in Chicago. The Fire as well as the Civil War affected those who lived in poverty the worst. Much like many deceased soldiers in the Civil War, a large population of the lives lost during the fire went unaccounted due to their low social standing and exclusion from society. During the fire, Chicago’s major source of revenue collapsed and even the city’s wealthiest inhabitants fell into poverty (“The Great Chicago Fire”). The Great Chicago Fire desecrated the city’s architecture, wealth, and population. The Civil War exhibited a like effect upon the southern states, destroying their crops, cities, and all means of wealth and entitlement....

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