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To What Extent Was The Civil War An Important Watershed In Us Social And Economic History?

1749 words - 7 pages

The period in American history prior to the Civil War was known as the "Great Expansion". Economic boom followed the expansion of the railroads westward across the continent and southward into Florida. The Civil War punctuated Florida's growth but left it relatively unscathed. Economic growth quickly followed the end of the Civil War.The Civil War split the nation. It was the most bitter conflict ever within the United States. The source of the conflict between the North and the South resulted from fundamentally different ways of life. Economy in the South was heavily based on agriculture and growing cotton. The North was heavily industrialised with factories and manufacturing being central to the growing economy.Growing and harvesting cotton required large numbers of workers. In the southern states, many farmers "owned" whole workforces of slaves.The combined workforce was in excess of 4 million slaves. By the 1800's, the African slave trade had been outlawed; existing slaves however were not freed. Men and women of the North pushed to completely abolish slavery. The southern farmers regarded the opinions of the northerners as detached from reality. They did not want to be pushed around by the northern people, and The South feared that losing the slaves would have a severe economic impact on cotton plantations.Abraham Lincoln was against slavery, but for unity. He knew the issues of slaves needed to be resolved, and that there was much discontent among right minded northern people, and intolerance of their southern neighbours' slave trading ways. Abe Lincoln knew that in order for the country to be united, and the union to be strong, a forced decision on slavery would have to be made. He would have been content with letting the southern states keep their slaves, if this would have retained unity in the country. It would be perhaps fair to say Abraham Lincoln would have done anything to save the union.In a letter to Henry L Pierce and others dated April 6, 1859, he wrote:Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves: and, under a just God, can not long retain it.(Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, "Letter To Henry L. Pierce and Others" (April 6, 1859), p. 376.)This, along with another quote, from 1858, implies an idealism within Lincoln, to free slaves: He wrote in the collected works of Abraham Lincoln: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy"("As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, (August 1, 1858?), p. 532. )A different perspective is thrown on...

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