History of the Civil War Essay

Submitted By Darnsky
Words: 2519
Pages: 11

1. In what way did conditions in the South change or stay the same after the Civil War? Consider the economic, political, and social conditions of the South during Reconstruction? Also, consider how the position of African Americans in the South changed or stayed the same during this period.

The South before the Civil War was an open land, with an economy based around the top down agricultural industry. During the pre-war era, the south had been at the mercy of socio-political and economic legislation that the north had been pushing through and the Civil War marked desired sovereignty from the Union for the South. After the Civil War the South was a mess, and endured radical changes that both perpetuated its culture and changed the way it operated forever. Freed Slaves were oppressed under new and arguably worse pretenses, the North established even more control over the Southern States, and the push for “Manifest Destiny” only accelerated even faster. Conditions and culture did stay the same, but were changed in ways that were more extreme than before Before the Civil War Slavery was already in question as an institution that the South surely needed for the survival of their Agricultural Industry. The North had their own reasons to stop of slavery besides Abolitionist ideals that slaves were equal to white men, the key word being stopped. Very few influential people in the North were actually interested in the Abolition of slavery but were concerned about the expansion of slavery into other states. Even Lincoln who is forever an icon of ending slavery didn’t want to abolish completely. In the 19th century expansion of slavery was an issue about free labor societies. With capitalism in its incubation, there was a need for free labor because the US wanted more industry, but slavery was better for Agricultural systems, also, white men found it harder to get jobs when slavery was instituted.
The end of the civil war is synonomous with the end of slavery and this left 3.5 million slaves with freedom, but freedom alone. They were not given money, or education or land. Ex slaves found themselves having to submit to the growing system of sharecropping, which is where white land owners would entrap ex-slaves, sometimes the very same men they had previously owned, in contracts that they would receive compensation under unfair terms for the same labor. These contracts were so unfair that many white land owners considered sharecropping to be better than slavery because with slavery you were expected to provide slaves with a living space and the ability to survive, but with sharecropping they only needed to provide them with “fair compensation” which they were the deciders of. So, with African Americans even worse off than before, the south had become a “free labor” society in which African Americans were no longer owned but rather held legally under contracts which had no clause to protect them from starvation.
Although some White Landowners were able to preserve a little bit of their land and plantations, the War had left the south in Shambles and many previous landowners had lost it in the war. Because of this, Northern Business men, “Carpet Baggers” came down during the Reconstruction to buy land on the cheap, and by the late 1800s the majority of land in the south was owned by Northern Business men, specifically banks. The North saw great value in the land in the south that would help bridge the northern industrialization with raw materials that were abundant in the south. An example being West Virginia, this state was full of wealth because it had a lot of coal mining, which was very profitable and after the war Northern New York Banks owned most of the mines. There wasn’t just coal, however, the Agriculture economy still had use for the Industry of the North, there was still Cotton and Tobacco and plenty of land for future Railroad companies to use up. Even after northerners came in to buy all of this cheap land, the same