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Why did non-slave owners fight in the civil war - Research Paper Example

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The American civil war is one of the most important events in US History. Not only did it revolutionize the US constitution, but it changed the life of many who had previously been living in conditions of slavery…
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Why did non-slave owners fight in the civil war
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"Why did non-slave owners fight in the civil war"

Download file to see previous pages It is estimated that over three million soldiers took part in the civil war, with two million fighting for the Union states and one million fighting for the Confederate states (Catton & McPherson, 2004). Around 600,000 of these soldiers died in combat, making it the deadliest war in American history (Catton & McPherson, 2004). One of the main reasons for the American civil war was that many people in the northern states felt that slavery was immoral and unnecessary, whilst those in the south wanted to keep their slave-owning plantation way of life. It is easy to understand why those in possession of slaves would want to keep their lifestyle and their cheap labor source, but why did non-slave owners fight in the civil war? Inequality Whilst it may seem ridiculous to some to support a system that does not benefit yourself, such as non-slave owners supporting slavery in the civil war, but there are many reasons why. One of the main reasons is that black people and white people were not seen as equal at the time. The general consensus of the time was that those of African descent were a slave race (Hansen, Gallagher & Jakes, 2010) and deserved to be treated as such. This is one of the reasons why inequality lasted for such a significant amount of time after the civil war; it was difficult for some people to accept equality. Despite many soldiers fighting for the Confederate states not owning slaves, it may be that these individuals wished to maintain the quality of life. In the case of those who were termed ‘poor whites’, it may have been that they enjoyed being part of a system in which they were superior to one set of people; the African slaves. The abolition of slavery meant that everyone was equal, but those with money still retained some superiority. Those who were part of the ‘poor white’ lost their superiority altogether and may have felt uncomfortable with this idea. The culture of slavery was deep-rooted in society at the time and many are often uncomfortable with changes to the social order, and this may have been an example of this phenomenon (Catton & McPherson, 2004). The abolition of slavery did require a significant change to the social system of the day, so the Confederate supporters were not wrong to be worried. However, in recent decades the status of African Americans is now seen as equal to that of whites in the United States, so it is evident that some time has shown that there was a reason to fight for this equality, despite the problems it may have caused the Confederate soldiers at the time. It is interesting to consider how those labelled ‘poor whites’ of the day reacted to the abolition of slavery, and how they were now seen as equal to black, whereas prior to this the colour of their skin still set them apart. This was probably one of the major reasons why non-slave owners fought in the civil war. State Pride Something that may be easier to understand for modern Americans is the concept of state pride. As the ownership of slaves was so deeply ingrained into culture, some soldiers may have wanted to go to war to prevent themselves being under the legislation of the Union states who did not necessarily understand the way of life in the south (Hansen, Gallagher & Jakes, 2010). In many cases, soldiers would have been proud to be fighting for their state, despite their beliefs or their slave ownership status. Slavery was one of the main issues in the American civil war, but it was not the only one. Many people on both sides of the civil war believed in what is known as State Sovereignty, which essentially maintains the right of each individual state to control and create its own laws (Catton & McPherson, 2004). The Union was fighting to unite the states, both southern and northern, to create a more harmonious single ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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