Socioeconomic reasons for the causes and outcome of the Civil War Analyzing the causes and the eventual outcome of the American Civil War can be a difficult task when you look at all the issues at once. The fields of the political, economic and sociological differences between the Union and the Confederacy are were we find the bulk of the answers as why the two regions of the United States separated. When trying to discuss the Civil War we must first explain why the Confederate states seceded and just as importantly, how they were defeated.
When trying to find the causes and the outcomes of the Civil War, I’ve chosen to ypass the political reasons and would rather discuss the areas of economic and sociological conflict. It is hard to discuss one of these aspects without showing how closely it is tied into the other. Economy is the child of sociological conditions and in turn sociological conditions predict an areas economic success and potential. Because of this strong interrelationship between the two, the word «socioeconomic» is best suited to describe this important area of conflict between the North and the South.
Almost a question of civilization versus barbarism the war between the North and he South showed America who held more power and whose way would lead us into a future for all Americans. The North and South were divided along an invisible economic line. States in the North were more industrialized than states in the South. In the South, cotton and tobacco provided the economy. These plantation crops created an economic situation based entirely upon agriculture. This was in stark contrast too the heavily industrialized Northern cities in America.
Slave labor provided the workforce on the Southern plantations and along with crops were the backbone of Southern economic power. Slave labor, which turned the wheels on the vast plantations growing tobacco and cotton, created an entirely different socioeconomic climate then the one found in the North. The inherent conflict between the progressive, industrialized, urbane North and the plantation lifestyle, made possible by cotton, tobacco and slave labor, ultimately revealed a nation sharply divided along socioeconomic lines.
The Civil War or «the war between the states», was the inevitable outcome of a developing nation uncertain as to whether it should remain progressive and industrialized or genteel and slowmoving. Unquestionably, the tobacco economy of the South as well as its cotton products were of vast importance to the entire nation. Still, the social structure of plantation life with its legacy and dependency upon slave labor, would not be tolerated by Northern states for much longer. A continued cry for emancipation and abolition by president Lincoln and others, both in the North and the South, fueled a war that teared our nation apart.
However, the Southern lifestyle was not all mint juleps and afternoons on the verandah. While the climate in the South was balmy and well conditioned to crop rowing, many Northerners mistakenly assumed the South and its people were lazy. They rejected the Southern work ethic as «no work ethic at all. » Many Northerners believed that they were the power base of the nations economy, and in many aspects they were. The Northern culture was disassociating itself on many levels from its Southern counterpart.
The debate over slavery was «the straw that broke the camels back. » Without the slave labor, Southern plantation owners and crop growers would be forced to restructure their entire reality. The Southern plantation aristocracy was a stunning concept, but times were changing. Even though it was our agriculture that brought our nation its first economic power, our growth towards industrialization grew more important by the minute. Pressures from across the Atlantic to abolish slavery were being heeded by the North and shunned by the South.
No European or foreign power would dictate policy and lifestyle to the headstrong Southern plantation culture. Internal strife, yielding nothing less than Civil War, would ultimately keep a domestic issue domestic. The «statesman of the lost cause», strongly believed in the honor, culture, economy and structure of the South. On the opposite side, Northerners were no less passionate about their cause. The Civil War emerged as a spectacular and inevitable ending to a prolonged clash of cultures- both social and economic.
The obvious outcome of the Civil War was the defeat of the Southern states and their Confederate army, government and way of life. The North had forged a policy to abolish slavery and the North had power, money, talent and hardware (all products of their particular industrialized economy and culture) to go through with it. After the embargo on Southern goods and blockade all but a few nails were left to hammer into the Confederate offin. The cultural and economic policies forged in the South were no match for the Northern war- machine.
The Northern war- machine was the product of a powerful economy which included shipping, importing, exporting, banking, factories and much else. The South had crops as far as the eye could see. Were the North had factories and ports, the South had plantations and slave auctions. The nations power structure was basically in the North. By 1861, the North was in a position of total dominance. They had a better army, better weapons, and were in a better position to win. The South had a lot of pride and product, but not much else.
Another major factor is that the population density on the South was overwhelmed by the North. The South following secession from the Union began with creating their own nation. They had to print currency, form political structure and organize an army -all things the North already had. They had to develop an army and system that did not exist before. Even though the Confederacy yielded Robert E Lee, arguably the most famous military figure if the war, he was most notable because he lost. He lost because the ledgling confederacy was a «house of cards» waiting to collapse.
They never had a realistic chance although they put up an awe inspiring four year fight. The socioeconomic differences between the North and the South were astounding. From the beginnings of secession the South was fighting a losing battle. The moral stand and power of the North was the main reason why the South disliked them. They two never seemed to agree on anything for too long. The American Civil War was a tragic necessity for a country whose commitment to democracy made its many of its institutions, like slavery, obsolete in time.