Feb 07 2013
What long-term impact did the Civil War have on American society?
The United States after the Civil War was in dire need for a reconstruction period, losing more than 600,000 Americans lives in the war causing business in all markets to have to rebuild. This long period of rebuilding and creating new inventions for the country led to a period called the Industrialization Period. After the Civil War, laws formed by the government that gave federal protection to all American citizens were enacted, thus demolishing slavery. The American people started to realize and believe that the United States were not just a collection of states, but had formed a country.
After the Civil War ended, the South was put into a very hard predicament about their economy. Their work force was now completely gone because the slaves had been freed, making the South look for new ways to get workers. Even though their railroads were mostly ruined, they were able to adapt and improve to make them a huge part of transporting their crops. The North on the other hand, gained a great workload from the amount of freed slaves that moved to the north. The North encountered a railroad phenomenon as railroads were built with federal government support, allowing the North to continue with westward expansion to support their economy.
The United States as a whole adapted and the economy became more and more power over time. The economy especially became financially stronger when “the sale of war bonds pushed the passage of the National Bank Act of 1863. This act allowed banks of a certain capital minimum to qualify for a Federal charter if they used at least one third of their capital in the purchase of war bonds” (C K Liu). These bonds allowed banks to collect interest on the capital form, which made banks more profitable and influential not only for themselves but for the government.
When the United States added the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution after the Civil War, these amendments freed the African Americans and gave them a legal status. These “Reconstruction Amendments” had a particular outcome for the African Americans; the 13th amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, the 14th guaranteed citizenship to all people born in the U.S. and that every state must give protection to all people, and lastly, the 15th amendment gave all males the right to vote regardless of their race. Although these amendments did not immediately bring equality to African Americans, it allowed an eventual view of racial equality in the U.S. to be formed.
In the end, the Civil War had both positive and negative long-term effects. The South would experience a lot of increased debt from the loss of railroads and workers, while the North flourished with its gaining of new railroad systems and industrialized factories. This Reconstruction period involving the addition of “federal and state policies” (Woodworth) helped the United States to grow and become a stronger country. Reconstruction “ended in the different states at different times, the last three by the Compromise of 1877” (Woodworth). Although the restoration of the Union was the main accomplishment of the war, the North and the South began to come together to expand the U.S. westward and to build it into a stronger, more economically advanced country.
Steven E. Woodworth, ed. The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research. Greenwood Press. 1996. 756pp online edition
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/JC14Dj03.html, THE SHAPE OF US POPULISM, Part 2, Long-term effects of the Civil War, Henry C K Liu Mar 14, 2008