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U.S. History

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History 121 is a study of the United States from colonial and indigenous colonial beginnings to the period of the Civil War and early Reconstructions. This research paper will focus on the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln made South Carolina’s succession from the Union on 20 December 1860 as a foregone conclusion just after he had worn the presidential election (Frank, 2006). The state had been waiting for a chance to unite with the south against the antislavery force and by 1 February 1861, there were five southern states. On 4 March 1861, Lincoln was sworn in as the president of the United States of America (Frank, 2006). He made a declaration that would restore the bonds with the Union. This resulted to the confederate guns opening fire on 12 April and it was the commencement of an era of war that saw many Americans die than in any other prior conflict. The seven states that had seceded did respond positively to the confederate action. When Virginia seceded on 17 April, other states followed suit and they included Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. The slave states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware remained loyal to the union despite showing sympathy to the south because the enlarged confederate and the free soil were on the border. Hence, each side entered the war with high hopes of winning the war. Despite the north, having an advantage of a population of 22 million that comprised of 23 states while the south had only 11 states with 9 million people that also comprised of the slaves. In addition, the north was industrially superior because it provided abundant facilities in the manufacturing of arm and ammunition and it had a superior railway system. The south also had certain advantages over the north in that the defensive war was to take place in its own territory. They also had a strong military tradition and they possessed military leaders who were experienced.

Bull Run in Virginia was the first large battle that stripped away the illusion that victory was to come quickly and easy. In contrast to the military failures in the East, the Union was able to attain success in the West and slow strategic victories at sea. Lincoln advocated a blockade on the Southern Coasts, which led to the prevention of exporting cotton to Europe and the importation of clothing, medical supplies and the much-needed ammunition to the South. In 1862, David Farragut a brilliant union naval commander wentto Mississippi river and forced New Orleans the largest city in the South to surrender. The Union won almost uninterrupted victories and led to 10,000 people to be killed and wounded on each side at Shiloh making it the highest number of casualties in America. The second confederate victory in Bull Run responded tentatively making General Robert E. Lee to retreat across the Potomac with his army intact thus making Lincoln to fire McClellan. Although Antietam was momentous, it was inconclusive in terms of military. When France and Great Britain were on the verge of recognizing confederacy, they did delay their decision, making the South suffer because they did not receive economic aid or the diplomatic recognition that it desperately wanted.

On July 22, 1862, Lincoln showed a draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet but it was not until 1 January 1863 when Antietam gave Abraham Lincoln the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that declared that slaves were free in the rebelling states (Frank, 2006). In the beginning, it had no or little impact because slaves were freed in the confederated states only, leaving slavery in boarder states but behind it all, it was now a desired objective by the Union. Emancipation Proclamation allowed the recruitment of African Americans in the Union army (Hart, 1994). Since the union had being sheltering the slaves who had escaped. Throughout this time, African American men had continued to put pressure on the army so that they could enlist them. Only a few commanders had made the incentive in the field to recruit southern African Americans into their forces but it was not until Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation that the federal army would officially accept black soldiers into its ranks (Hart, 1994).

The Emancipation Proclamation allowed them to be trained and recruited as soldiers who eventually fought in battles from Mississippi to Virginia (Hart, 1994). The Union’s military prospects in the East remained bleak despite the political gains that had been represented by the Emancipation Proclamation. In July 1863, victories at the Gettysburg and Vicksburg were a major turning point in the war despite the bloodshed. While in the West, the Union did gain control over Tennessee, thus creating a way in which to invade Georgia. This made some of the people to critical of the proclamation because it only freed some of the slaves.&nbssp; Frederick Douglass was jubilant because he felt that it was the end of slavery. Therefore, it would act as a moral bombshell to the Confederacy for they also feared that Lincoln would give in to pressure from northern conservatives thereby failing to keep his promise. Despite the opposition, the president remained firm on the issue of Emancipation Proclamation.

Hence, he had officially freed all slaves within the states or parts of states that were in rebellion and not in Union hands and it left one million slaves in Union territory still in bondage (Hart, 1994). Throughout the North, packed churches, meeting halls, the new African Americans, and their white allies celebrated while I the South, most slaves did not come to hear of the proclamation for months. This made the purpose of the Civil War to change from only fighting to preserve the Union but now fighting to end slavery.

On 9 April 1865, General Lee was surrounded by the union army giving him no other option than to surrender to Grant at Appomattox courthouse. Robert lee did win the admiration for his brilliance in leadership, greatness in defeat and ending the civil war months later. According to the war, it produced a greater hero in Abraham Lincoln in that he had been able to weld the union again by his warmth and generosity. 23 days later after General Lee surrendered; Lincoln unfolded a Generous Reconstruction policy but was later on assassinated after his last public address by John Wilkes Booth at Fords Theater. Since Lincoln had already set the stage in that, the southern states had never legally seceded because disloyal citizens had misled them.   

Andrew Johnson in 1865 proceeded in carrying out Lincoln’s reconstruction program. Reconstruction began during the war and they continued to 1877 in an effort to solve the issues caused by reunion, specifically the legal status of the 11 breakaway states, the freedmen, and the Confederate leadership. Northern leaders during the war agreed that victory would require more than the end of fighting and that they had to encompass the two war goals: all forms of slavery had to be abolished and secession had to be repudiated. Lincoln and the Radical Republicans had disagreed sharply on the criteria for these goals and the degree of federal control that should imposed on the South.  Eventually the disputes became central to the political debates after the Confederacy collapsed.

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