The Civil War of 1861 has been one of the saddest events in American history. The United States divided into “the Union” and “the Confederacy” to fight against their own brothers. Even though many political, economic and social events led up to it, ultimately freedom is what the South was pursuing. Due to this fact, I believe the correct, or more appropriate name for the Civil War would be the “War for Southern Independence”, not only because of their fight for liberty, but also for their determination to preserve their society intact.
The Old South had had troubles with the United States since the beginning of the 19th century. Unfortunately everything culminated in the elections of 1860, where president Lincoln was elected, representing the Republican Party, and South Carolina started something that would lead to a disastrous finale, secession. Since the Republican Party was sectional (from the North), the South was confident that Lincoln would never have their best interests at heart. Following South Carolina’s footsteps, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas seceded as well.
Which eventually lead the United States to fight for their Union. As a proof that they could, and wanted to be independent, the Confederacy adopted a Constitution in 1861, which was very similar to the one of the United States, except that it had many problems with taxation and states versus federal rights. The South being able to create their own government, with president Jefferson Davis in command, demonstrated the fact that the South not only yearned for their freedom, but also that they were prepared to defend their new acquired sense of independence at all costs.
The Confederacy displayed their determination and high sense of morale in Fort Sumter, a federal fort in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Afraid of being attacked by Northern troops (after president Lincoln decided to “provision” the garrison), the southern rebels attacked mercilessly in April of 1861. They had just begun experiencing free reign, and they were not prepared to loose it. They would fight for the “cause” until the end, hoping their society would not be affected.
A very important difference between the North and the South was their way of life. The north had a more equal division of classes, whilst the Southern citizens lived in a “planter aristocracy”, which consisted of a select group of rich planters that provided the cream of the political and social leadership of the section. The planter aristocrats possessed numerous slaves and were owners of large plantations. When the south realized slavery was at risk, they fought more arduously, since slaves granted certain southerners their high social position.
In addition, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all slaves to be free in areas under rebel control, the war turned into not only a fight for freedom, but also against abolition. This gave southerners even more reasons to skirmish with the Union, since they did not want their society to change. They still had the belief that whites were better than “niggers”, they were not prepared to be at the same level with them.
Furthermore, since Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, slavery reinvigorated. Southern planters needed more and more slaves to work the machines. Abolishing the “peculiar institution” would mean destining the Southern society to ruin. Not only would they have to work their own plantations, they would also be in the same level as “white trash”. The idea of changing their way of life terrorized Confederate citizens, leading them to fight a war for independence.
Their desire of freedom and independence led the South to defend their cause and ideals until the end. They did not agree with the North, and certainly did not trust them. In addition, losing to the Union would mean total destruction of life as they knew it. They had to fight mercilessly for their cause. Because of their fight for liberty and their determination to preserve their society intact, I believe the most apt name is: the “War for Southern Independence. ”
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