Who Won the War and Peace?
There is an issue that followed the Civil War that can only really be addressed in retrospect. Who won the Civil War? Not necessarily the war itself, but who won the peace. There is not really a single or definitive answer because the effects and the outcomes of the war are still being determined. This question is nebulous in the fact that certain aspects can be attributed to the South winning some aspects of the war and the North others. Also, do we include the impacts on former slaves as a Northern victory or do consider them to be their own side during this conflict. Many people will say that the North undoubtedly won the war, but the South’s social hierarchy did not really change that much after the war. The former slaves went on many times to work for their former owners achieving not much more than when they were slaves. The South implemented many unjust laws to still allow the whites to stay ahead and to keep the blacks poor and dependent. Overall, though, I believe that the North and the former slaves won because of the outcome of the Civil War. Although the effects of the war were not immediate for the slaves and abolition did not automatically mean freedom and equality for slaves, the war and the legislation that followed it set the groundwork for the advancement of black people. The thirteenth through the fifteenth amendments helped to pave the way for blacks to enjoy the same opportunities as whites. Obviously the North achieved its objective of reuniting the country and preserving the Union. There are many factors to which one can say that the North actually won the peace.
First I will talk about the North achieving peace and the objectives that they wanted when it comes to reuniting the union. It is clear that the United States was reunited because of the Civil War. With the reentry of the Southern states came certain concessions that the each state had to make. The most important was the adoption of new state constitutions that made clear that the national constitution had precedence over any local law. This made the fact clear that there are state’s rights, but they cannot negate national policy. To those in the North that were worried about the fate of the Union, the Civil War proved to be a victory.
The addition of three amendments to the constitution after the Civil War should be considered to a victory for the Northern and African American cause for the Civil War. These newly added documents protect the rights of all the citizens of the United States. Not only do they protect the rights of these people but they also establish who is a citizen and who is protected by the constitution. Most importantly it allows freedom to those who were mot protected before the Civil War, namely the former slaves.
The Thirteenth Amendment:
This amendment specifically outlaws the institution of slavery and involuntary servitude. This means that the Emancipation Proclamation was formally made law by United States government. The South was made to accept the new reforms to the constitution in order to be allowed back into the Union, so therefore they had to accept the fact that they could no longer depend on the use of slaves to advance economic growth in the South. Not only did this amendment not allow slavery but it also made clear that due process must be given to anyone who is subjected to involuntary servitude. No longer could blacks or anyone for that matter be made to work against their will. This policy could be enforced by additional legislation by Congress. This amendment was an obvious victory for those who were slaves before the war. From a Northern white perspective this could serve as victory for all those who opposed slavery before the war.
The Fourteenth Amendment:
This amendment specifically grants due process to any citizen of the United States. A person who is a citizen, including all those who were once slaves, cannot be deprived of anything unless they are duly convicted. This means that all former slaves have all of the rights of the whites. Also representation is granted to all those who are male and age twenty-one or over. This means that blacks now have the representation in the country that had previously denied it to them. Those who rebelled against the Union are no longer allowed to be a part of legislation or any other high-ranking government office unless it approved by a two-thirds majority of congress. This limited the Southern influence in congress and in the government as a whole allowing an influx of Northern influence throughout the states. This was a huge victory for the North. The South also took another hit due to this amendment. Any state or debt that was incurred in rebellion would not be reimbursed. Also any losses that would occur because of the removal of the slavery system would not be compensated. This means that the South was made to pay for their rebellion, and that the condemnation of slavery was absolute. The North would not feel sorry for any economic loss due to rebellion or abolition of slavery.
The Fifteenth Amendment:
This amendment grants the right to vote to anyone who is of legal voting age. It specifically addresses the issue of race concerning voting rights. This is a major victory for all the slaves; blacks now gained the voice to help their cause. (Note: this does not include or mention women)
The Civil War seems to be a victory for the North and for those who were formally slaves. Not only did the Union get reunited and blacks were now allowed the same rights as everybody else, but also the white South declined in power. The government was now dominated by an economically flourishing North and was able to evolve its views into law. As the South rebuilt after war and tried nursing a weak economy, the North went on with its normal routine.
The Civil War was a great and terrible time in America’s history. Although there were still many injustices after the war, it provided the framework for equality and human rights for all. The blacks of America still had a long road ahead to achieve full equality, and it still has not been achieved yet, but the gears of progress were set into motion because of the Civil War. Without a doubt the North won the peace, achieving both of its goals of the war, preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery.