Girding for War: The North and the South
The Menace of Secession
President Abraham Lincoln declared that secession was impractical because the North and South were not geographically divided. He also stated that with secession, new controversies would arise, including the national debt, federal territories, and the fugitive-slave issue.
South Carolina Assails Fort Sumter
When President Lincoln was elected, there were only two significant forts in the South that flew the Union's flag. Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, needed supplies in order to support its men. Therefore, Lincoln adopted a middle-of-the-road solution. He told the South that the North was sending provisions to the fort, not supplies for reinforcement. Taking the move by Lincoln as an act of aggression, the South Carolinians fired upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.
Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee all seceded after the attack on Fort Sumter. The 11 seceded states were known as the "submissionists."
Lincoln now had a reason for an armed response, and he called upon the Union states to supply militiamen.
Brothers' Blood and Border Blood
Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia were the Border States. They were the only slave states that hadn't seceded from the Union. The Border States contained the Ohio River, a vital necessity for both the North and the South.
The official statement that Lincoln made for war was to fight to preserve the Union, not to end slavery.
The Five Civilized Tribes (Native American) (Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles) sided with the Confederacy. These tribes were allowed to send delegates to the Confederacy congress. Most of the Plains Indians sided with the Union.
The Balance of Forces
The South had the advantage of fighting defensively on its own land and it did not have to win in order to preserve the Confederacy-it just had to fight to a draw.
Abraham Lincoln offered Robert E. Lee command of the Northern army, but Lee turned the job down deciding to fight for his home state of Virginia. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson was Lee's chief lieutenant.
There were not a lot of factories in the South, but the South was able to seize federal weapons from the Union.
The North held ¾ of the nation's wealth, and ¾ of the nation's railroad system. It also had nearly twice as large of a population of the South as more and more immigrants arrived in the North from Europe.
Dethroning King Cotton
The South counted on foreign intervention to win the war.
The common people of Britain supported the North, hoping to extinguish slavery. Britain restrained its own and French ironclads from breaking the Union blockade.
The British manufacturers depended upon cotton from the South, but before the war from 1857 to 1860, a surplus of cotton had developed in Britain, allowing it to function without purchasing cotton from the South. In 1861, the cotton supply ran out and many British factory workers were laid off. As Union armies penetrated the South, they sent cotton to Britain. King Wheat and King Corn, which were produced great quantities in the North, proved to be more powerful than King Cotton. Therefore, Britain wasn't able to break the blockade to gain cotton, because if it had, it would have lost the granary from the North.
The Decisiveness of Diplomacy
The Trent affair occurred in late 1861. A Union warship stopped a British mail steamer, the Trent, and removed 2 Confederate diplomats who were heading to Europe. Britain started to send troops to Canada in retaliation, but the situation was ended when President Lincoln freed the Confederate prisoners.
Britain shipyards were unknowingly producing Confederate commerce-raiders. The British ships left their ports unarmed, picked up arms elsewhere, and captured Union ships. One notable ship was the Alabama.
In 1863, two Confederate warships were being constructed in the British shipyard of John Laid and Sons. Their large iron rams would have destroyed the Union blockade. To avoid infuriating the North, the London government bought the ships for the Royal Navy.
The British established the Dominion of Canada in 1867. It was partly designed to strengthen the Canadians against the possible vengeance of the United States.
Emperor Napoleon III of France dispatched a French army to occupy Mexico City in 1863. He installed Maximilian as emperor of Mexico City. The actions of Napoleon were in direct violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Napoleon was counting on the Union not retaliating due to its weakness. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Napoleon was forced to abandon Maximilian and Mexico City.
President Davis versus President Lincoln
The one defect of the South was that its own states could secede. Some state troops refused to serve outside their borders.
President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy often had disputes with his own congress. Davis's task as President proved to be beyond his powers. Lincoln and the North enjoyed a long-established government that was financially stable and fully recognized at home and abroad.
Limitations on Wartime Liberties
Due to the fact that Congress was not in session when the war broke out, President Lincoln proclaimed a blockade, increased the size of the Federal army, directed the secretary of the Treasury to advance $2 million without appropriation or security to 3 private citizens for military purposes, and suspended the habeas corpus (stated that a citizen could not be held without the due process of a trial) - all of which were required to be approved by Congress.
Volunteers and Draftees: North and South
Due to lack of volunteers, Congress passed in 1863 a federal draft law. Men who were called in the draft could pay $300 in order to buy a replacement. The Confederacy also passed a draft law.
The Economic Stresses of War
The North increased tariffs and excise taxes to financially support the war. It also created the first income tax.
In early 1861, after enough anti-protection Southern members had seceded, Congress passed the Morrill Tariff Act. It was a high protective tariff that increased duties 5%-10%. The increases were designed to raise additional revenue and provide more protection for the prosperous manufacturers. A protective tariff became identified with the Republican Party.
The Washington Treasury issued green-backed paper money. The greenbacks were backed by the nation's fluctuating gold supply. Hence, the value of the greenback was constantly changing.
In 1863, Congress authorized the National Banking System. It was designed to stimulate the sale of government bonds and to establish a standard bank-note currency. Banks who joined the National Banking System could buy government bonds and issue sound paper money backed by the bonds.
The Confederate government was forced to print blue-backed paper money that was subject to "runaway inflation."
The North's Economic Boom
Newly invented laborsaving machinery enabled the North to expand economically. Mechanical reapers (farm machines used to harvest grain) allowed for men to leave the farms for the war and provided grain that contributed to Northern profits.
The discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania in 1859 led to a rush of people known as the "Fifty-Niners."
The Civil War opened up many jobs for women that were originally occupied by men.
A Crashed Cotton Kingdom
The North's blockade severely hampered the South's economy. Transportation in the South collapsed during the Civil War. Cotton capitalism had lost out to industrial capitalism.