Discuss the Political, Social, and Economic Impact of the Civil War on the US
The total number of military causalities on both sides exceeded 1 million. More men died in the Civil War than in all other American wars combined until Vietnam. However, the Civil War impacted the United States well beyond just deaths.
The Civil war brought fundamental alterations in the life of the nation, changing the economy, the political landscape, as well as ways of life. Economically, wartime measures had introduced new federal involvement in both he banking and transportation systems.The National Bank Acts of 1863, 1864, and 1865 helped to create a uniform currency in the nation. It also forced many major state institutions to join the national system.
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This gave the federal government even greater control over the economy of the nation. This also allowed for the government to assist in the establishment of businesses. There was also rapid and mass industrialization that took place in both the North and South.
Such was needed in order to supply all the products needed to survive as well as fight this modern war.This brought about the Second Industrial Revolution. Much money was invested into public transportation, especially the railroads, in order to allow for easier and swifter transportation and communication. The government had also exercised its power to support manufacturing and business interests via means of tariffs, loans, and subsides. With the support from the government, there came a rise of capitalists. The extremely rich elites invested their money in a business and in turn created even larger profits. The War also, for the first time, brought economic unity to the US.
The South joined the market system, abandoning their former semi-subsistence economy. Industrialization and large economic enterprises clearly had arrived to stay. Politically, important changes had accompanied the maintenance of the national unity. Under Republican leadership, the federal government had expanded its power not only to preserve the Union but also to extend its freedom. Through the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, freedom was given to all slaver. However, this did not grant them any rights nor did it grant them equality in any form.The executive offense definitely expanded its power, exercising martial law as well as suspending habeas corpus during the war.
Constitutionally, this war shut the door on secession for it was determined as unconstitutional. Nullification also no longer existed, showing that federal law was supreme. State government must yield to the federal government. The only way to change a law that a state legislature disagrees with is by bringing it before the Supreme Court. Other than this, the state was not allowed to decide on the constitutionality a federal law.The federal government also extended its reach into the economic realm by implementing the National Banking Acts which gave it more power in the economy. Life during and after the Civil War shifted drastically.
Life the south has dramatically altered. Greater awareness of class inequality came about as there were unfair draft laws. The Civil War in the south was truly the rich man’s war, but the poor man’s battle. Many of the ordinary folks sacrificed necessities, while the rich only had to give up their luxuries at most.The south soon also realized that the semi-subsistence culture would not work if they wanted to become independent or fight this modern war against the North. So, the South had to turn to industrialization. Along with the North, industrialization occurred rapidly.
This devalued human labor, causing wages to plummet. Along with massive inflations, the gap between the rich and the poor in society grew larger and larger. Despite emancipation, blacks were guaranteed nothing more than freedom. This left a population of poor blacks who were left to fend for themselves.Slavery disappeared, but racism still ran strong. In fact, racism probably ran stronger than ever before. The war also expanded the role of women in society.
In the absence of men, women had to step up to fill the spots that were left open. This allowed for women to gain even greater freedom and economic power. War had come and gone, changing many things in its path. Wartime actions taken by the government of the United States spurred on the economy, changed the political arena, and also altered America’s society forever.