The American Civil War that happened in 1861 is one of the most important events of American history. It was a war that threatened to tear the country into two pieces. It also threatened to close for the slaves of the southern part of America all avenues to freedom and emancipation. The people of the northern part of America, on the other hand, wanted to free the labor and the land of the south for the purpose of establishing their industries. The main reason for the war was thus, the differences between the economic structures of the two parts of the nation, rather than the noble cause of emancipation which was outwardly posited as the driving force of the war. Books like Gone with the Wind talk about the changes that white people of the South had to make during and after the war. The book details the economic changes that happened in America after the war with business being the new means for making money as Scarlett O’ Hara discovers. The change in the economic structures brings very little changes to the lives of the erstwhile slaves as they are placed within a framework that denied them even the amenities that they had before the war. Even though Margaret Mitchell’s account is nostalgic about the structures of slavery, it offers an interesting view of how the war did not change the lives of the blacks but did change the economy of the South (Mitchell). One can thus, safely say that the main aim of the conduct of the American Civil War was the economic ambition of the white upper class
industrialists of the north. . The abolition of slavery became a facade for the operation of the war. It provided the supporters of the war with a noble aim that could cloak their more materialistic ambitions. Industrialism had led to the increase in the population of the people of the Northern states of the United States of America. This meant that they had more labor and thus the output of the industries of this region increased. This fuelled development in these areas and also the creation of better and improved infrastructure. This led to a chain effect where more industries were created in the north and as a result, more jobs were created too. This meant that Southern fears of a president who would be against the practise of slavery were being more and more real. With an increase in these fears, the upper classes of the South felt that their plantations and the ways in which they were run were being threatened. The abolition of slavery eventually led to great misery for the rich people of the ante bellum south. Their anticipation of this change in their economic position is what led them to viciously oppose the new reforms that were proposed by the north. This ultimately led the states of the south to secede from the union and this marked the beginning of the build up of the American Civil War (Hickman). That the real aim of the Civil War was not the emancipation of the African American community is evident from the fact that many of the problems that slavery created persisted even a century after the war. This can be seen from the large number of Civil Rights movements that took place during the 1960s in America (Slavery in America). The prejudices against the people of the black communities remained strong even in societies of the north that had argued against slavery. This exposed the hypocrisy of the abolitionist rhetoric of the Civil War. The changes that happened in America were mainly to do with the economy of the south that changed from its primarily agrarian one to one that also gave importance to industries.Taking a view of the Civil War that doubts its anti-slavery credentials may be argued to be a very pessimistic approach to American history. Economic reasons however, were the primary ones that led to the Civil War. An acceptance of this would lead to an understanding of the nature of the history of race relations in America for the hundred years that followed, up to the decade of the sixties when Civil Rights movements brought the issue of racism to the center.