Aftermath and Impacts of the Civil War

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How was the South affected by the Civil War?

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The outcome of the Civil War (1861–1865) provided a definitive answer to two issues which had haunted the United States in general and the South in particular. The first of these was whether or not a state had the right to secede from the Union. The answer to the secession...

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The outcome of the Civil War (1861–1865) provided a definitive answer to two issues which had haunted the United States in general and the South in particular. The first of these was whether or not a state had the right to secede from the Union. The answer to the secession question was that it was forbidden: the United States was a permanent amalgamation of states. Second, slavery was abolished.

The loss of the right to secede and the loss of its slaves were just two important results of the the war for the South. The South had suffered enormous human and material losses. Its economy was ruined. Its legal status was uncertain. Northern troops occupied the South. Many of its wartime political and military leaders, such as Judah Benjamin and Sterling Price, had fled abroad.

The South's economy faced numerous and seemingly insuperable challenges. Much of its infrastructure, such as railroads, had been destroyed by Union troops. Its currency and bonds were worthless. Cotton, the "king" of the prewar economy, no longer served as the basis of the economy.

The death or maiming of so many of its young men impeded postwar reconstruction. Those men who survived had to make a living in a prostrate economy.

Unfortunately, it was difficult for the South to accept blame for a war fought largely over the slavery question. Even today, many schoolchildren in the South are taught that the war was fought for states' rights.

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The main effect of the Civil War on the South was to diminish its power and influence within the American political system. From the very founding of the nation, the South had played a significant part in American politics. To a large extent, the United States as it existed prior to the outbreak of Civil War had been shaped by the Southern states, both for good and ill. The influence of the South in American politics ensured that the vexed issue of slavery was never adequately addressed, with the result being that war became almost the only way to resolve it.

However, once the Civil War had been lost for the South and slavery abolished, the vanquished South was inevitably forced to take on a subordinate role. Throughout the years of Reconstruction (1865-1877), Washington took control of matters previously devolved to the states to ensure that the South would not rise again. Inevitably, this meant that the South initially played no part in shaping the development of the post-war nation.

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The South was affected by the Civil War in many ways. One way was that slavery and all that slavery represented came to an end. This required the South to free the slaves and live in a society where nobody owned another person. The former slaves now had rights they never had before. These changes were dramatic for the South. Since the beginning of our country, many people in the South believed in the superiority of the white race. They were used to controlling the African-Americans and having many of them work as slaves without having any rights or freedoms.

Another way the South was affected by the Civil War was that there was complete destruction in the South. Towards the end of the war, the North waged total war on the South, destroying everything in the path of the Union army. Also, since most of the fighting in the Civil War was done in the South, there was much damage to the land and to property. As a result, the South had to be rebuilt after the Civil War ended. This led to a diversification of the southern economy as more industries were built in the South.

The South also had to reject their belief in states’ rights and in nullification. The South strongly believed that states should have the right to reject laws that hurt them. After the Civil War ended, the southern states had to write new constitutions that rejected the concept of nullification as a condition of being readmitted to the Union. 

The Civil War had a tremendous impact on the South.

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