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Civil War Essay

2458 words - 10 pages

Charles Beard, a noted historian said that the American Civil War was a conflict between industry and agriculture.Alexander Stephens, a southern statesman said that the war was about states rights.Horace Greeley, a northern newspaper man, and prominent abolitionist claimed the war was fought over the issue of slavery.Abraham Lincoln said it was a struggle "testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."Lincoln said his paramount object was to save the Union, and if he could accomplish that by not freeing any slaves, he would free none; "if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."What would have happened if Davis would have said that his paramount object was to save the Confederacy, and if he could accomplish that by not freeing any slaves, he would free none; if he could save it by freeing all the slaves he would do it; and if he could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone he would also do that. What if he would have taken the attitude that what he did about slavery and the colored race would be done to help save the Confederacy?Jefferson Davis was profoundly dedicated to the cause that he led. Many prominent Southerners, including Robert E. Lee, were troubled in conscience by slavery. Davis never manifested any qualms about either slavery or secession. His support of state sovereignty and the Southern way of life was based on deep conviction.When Lincoln composed the Gettysburg Address he did not talk much about the way most historians perceive the war. It was his perception...The men who had died at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville, Balls Bluff, Big Bethel, Shiloh...had not given the last full measure of devotion to free the slaves, nor to establish a modern nation nor to create an industrial empire. They died for the Union, and beyond that for the idea of democracy, so that the ray of hope sent forth by the American Revolution would never dim (Stephen E. Ambrose).The issue of the Civil War was democracy. Lincoln saw to it that the North fought to insure "that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."The constitution drawn up at Montgomery defined the new government as the creation of "sovereign and independent" states. Davis subscribed to the principles of state sovereignty but he was far less provincial in his views than were many of his fellow Confederates. As the South's chief executive he was tremendously handicapped by the deep and pervasive attachment of Southerners to states rights (Bell I. Wiley).Davis was also handicapped by the excessive individualism which characterized the South's ruling classes. The individualism was a product of the plantation system. Each planter was in effect a petty sovereign and his exalted status...

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