Civil War Historical Background

After the election of Abraham Lincoln, believing that he would restrict their rights to own slaves, southerners decided that secession was a better option than to give up their economic system and way of life. Lincoln and the North opposed the South’s withdrawal.

President Lincoln maintained that secession was illegal and that The Confederate States of America was not valid as a new nation to the world. Lincoln hoped that secession would end without conflict, but the two regions fought a war that exploited the advantages and opportunities each held before their differences were resolved.

The North’s population was bigger than that of the South, therefore giving a potential source for military enlistees and civilian manpower. The South didn’t have the substantial number of factories and industries that the North had to produce needed war materials.

The North had a better transportation network, which could be used to resupply military forces in the field. The Union controlled the Navy and their army was well fed.

The South had fewer advantages. The South was able to fight on its home terrain, and it could win the war simply by continuing to exist after the hostilities ended. The South also had a military tradition that encouraged young men to serve in the armed forces or attend a military school. In addition, the South had the leadership of great commanders, including Robert E. Lee, Joseph Johnston, and "Stonewall" Jackson.

The South had to worry about its slave population which posed the threat of rebellion and assistance to the Northern cause. The Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in all territories held by Union Troops, intensified the fears to the South.

To defeat the South, the North had to achieve several goals. They had to control the Mississippi River to allow unimpeded movement of needed Western goods. And, the South had to be cut off from international traders and smugglers that could aid the Southern war effort. Then the Confederate army had to be incapacitated to prevent further northward attacks, such as that at Gettysburg. The South’s ability to produce the needed goods and war materials had to be curtailed.

The south didn’t achieve its goals and after four years of fighting the North won the war. The country had to find ways to heal the wounds during Reconstruction.

Source: Civil War Historical Background
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