The American Civil War – History start-up unit

Economic impacts:


The long-term effect of the Civil War on the US economy was to accelerate the development of big business manufacturing in the North initiated by the demands of war production. The shortage of labor created by war conscription pushed industrialization in the Northeast, the spread of mechanized farming in the Middle West and the opening of new farms and mines in the West, with post-war decommissioned soldiers facing unemployment. Inflation reached 117% during the war years but wages rose only 43% in the name of patriotic sacrifice, yielding high war profit margins for corporations. War speculation fueled the rise of the finance sector, causing sharp disparity of income and wealth between financiers and workers hitherto unknown in the US economy.

My Findings: There were many economic impacts of the American Civil War. One main idea was that due to the necessity of more machinery and artillery, new business opportunities and innovations started to arise. This meant America were developing bigger businesses much faster than they had previously, and supplying a larger output. As most of the working class were away fighting war, they had very few men left to actually build and develop these products. This then meant they had to come up with new ways to produce this higher demand of output, and thus began the industrialisation through the North. This idea then spread to the mid west, where it was developed to keep up the maintenance of farms, before reaching the west were it was then used to open new farms and mines, ready to open when the soldiers came home from war looking for work. Other economic impacts included the rise of inflation, which is the term for a steady increase in the general price of the CPI (consumer price index). This increased by 117% as the war continued, but only 47% for their wages, resulting in companies having much larger war profit margins.

Long term consequences:


The Civil War, of course, ended slavery in the United States. It did not immediately bring equality to African Americans. However, by ending slavery, it made eventual racial equality (to the extent that we now have it) possible. It also broke up the old aristocratic system in the South and made that region more democratic in the long term.

My findings: There were many long term consequences to the civil war. Possibly the most important of these was ending slavery, and starting to bring in equality to African Americans. By ending slavery, it meant that African Americans were allowed to start becoming equal citizens with the white people, even if there were no immediate results. Some would argue that we still don’t have full racial equality, but due to the civil war, having full equality was, and is now, a possibility. A second consequence was the introduction of democracy to the Southern states, which was at the time, mainly run by the aristocrats (the rich). This began to decrease the previously widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Short term consequences:


The Civil War was America’s bloodiest conflict. The unprecedented violence of battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Stones River, and Gettysburg shocked citizens and international observers alike. Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands died of disease. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. Taken as a percentage of today’s population, the toll would have risen as high as 6 million souls. (See link for more casualty statistics).

My findings: One of the most significant short term consequences of the American Civil War was the casualties. This was an immediate consequence, and resulted in a huge number of loss of lives. It was suspected to be the war which took the lives of the highest percentage of americans, as well as injuries and captures. According to the data, 620,000 were killed, 476,000 were wounded, and 400,000 were captured or missing. The state will the highest deaths was Virginia and North Carolina, closely followed by Alabama. If we were to look at which side of the battle suffered the worst from this short term consequence, we would definitely say the South. This is because looking at the statistics for the civil war troops, they had just over a million men to start with, compared to the numbers of the North, which reached just under five million. Although the North saw slightly more deaths, they still had a number of troops which was around twice the size of that of the South. Of course, not every eligible man was fighting, but the numbers in the North mean that when you added up the number of deaths, soldiers, and eligible non participants, they had almost three times the amount of the South. From this we can see that the deaths and casualties of the American civil war was a significant short term consequence.

Positive consequences:


The Southern transportation system also experienced a revolution as manufacturers needed a steady way of transporting their goods to market. The railroads expanded rapidly as hundreds of miles of track were laid throughout the South. Small farmers were especially interested and inspired by these changes. They further applauded the division of many large plantations and hurried to purchase more land. They were also excited by the chances to increase their political power by cooperating with the Republican state governments.

My findings: There were many positive consequences that came from the American civil war. One of these was the improvement to transportation, which was mainly seen in the South. As the industrialization and productivity had increased over the course of the war, more goods were being produced, and therefore there was increased demand for better transportation. Markets were booming, and so the need for this new infrastructure were met, thus developing the productivity of the South. This brought more jobs, and pushed the economy, all while making the South an easier place to get around. As the uses of transportation grew, so did the farmers, who all rushed to buy more land, and the selling of their goods was getting easier by the day. This of course was a large enough change to catch political attention, meaning farmers were able to gain more political power with the Republican state governments. The improvement to transportation and increased political power were important positive consequences of the American civil war.

Negative consequences:


Hundreds of thousands of slaves freed during the American civil war died from disease and hunger after being liberated, according to a new book. The reality of emancipation during the chaos of war and its bloody aftermath often fell brutally short of that positive image. Instead, freed slaves were often neglected by union soldiers or faced rampant disease, including horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many of them simply starved to death. About a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered “the largest biological crisis of the 19th century” and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians.

My findings: One negative consequence that was neglected after the end of the American civil war was the well being of black slaves. After suffering years of slavery, having family members sold, being treated like animals, and having no rights, the end of the civil war should have brought an end to this. The abolishment of slavery meant that the slaves were finally free, and had far more rights than the years previous, but they were still seen as second class citizens. The civil war meant that the up keeping of a lot of farms was near non existent, and there was a shortage of food in many states across the country. Many black slaves starved to death as a result, and very few were tended to by union soldiers. Disease was everywhere, and the blacks were all at high risk of getting them, as their living conditions, food, water, and general well being was never up to the same level as the whites had. At one point, a lot of people believed that they would die out all together. One negative consequence of the civil war was that a large percentage newly freed black slaves died after the end of the American civil war.

Political impacts:


The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” More than a half-million black men became voters in the South during the 1870s (women did not secure the right to vote in the United States until 1920). For the most part, these new black voters cast their ballots solidly for the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.

My findings: There were many political impacts that came after the end of the civil war. One of these was the introduction of new amendments, specifically the fifteenth. This stated that the newly freed blacks were eligible to vote as well, disrupting previous voting patterns. This new change found that the majority voted for the Republicans. At the time, this was because the southern politicians in those days were Democrats, who did not welcome blacks at all. This change in voting patterns greatly impacted the politics of America after the civil war.

 Social impacts:


The Civil War was more than just a series of battles. It was a nationwide catastrophe that had a profound impact on all aspects of American society. Men were taken from farms, factories and plantations and sent to fight one another leaving women and children to tend to the home front. Huge casualties on both sides meant that everyone was directly affected by the carnage, even those living far from the scene of battle. In the areas where battles did occur, homes, farms, schools, and bridges were leveled. War led to the dislocation of American society on an unprecedented scale.

My findings: Social impacts were seen across the country, and were a major part of the American civil war. As there were very few men at home to tend to farms and crops, women had to do most of the hard work to keep these up and running. This changed the social structures of those at home, as women no longer had as much time in the day to see others or keep up the same social lives they had before the war began. The societies often had to become closer together as they struggled through the war, as everyone needed to give a helping hand once in while. This is how society was impacted as a result of the civil war.

Historical significance:



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