University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Agree or Disagree: Was the Us Civil War the 2nd American Revolution
The United States Civil War was the second American Revolution. Both wars’ focal point was to acquire freedom from their oppressive governments. The Civil War and the American Revolution possess similarities. Such as they had not many men, not that much money, and not that much firepower; but they still fought for independence.
The American Revolution or the American Revolutionary War, some may call it, was started from a decade-long growing tension between Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the British government. The British government was trying to raise revenue by taxing the colonists using bills including: the Stamp Act, Townshend Tariffs, Tea Act, etc. Using the Stamp Act, the government tried to reduce some of their enormous debt. Stamp Act was passed and it required that every legal document be written on stamped paper showing proof of payment. In response the colonists organized the Stamp Act Congress to voice their disagreement to the bill. Another bill they passed was the Quartering Act, which in a nutshell required colonist to house British soldiers. The British government used this bill because of the increased defense cost in America and they felt that the colonist should help with the financial burden of housing and feeding the soldier since they helped them during the war.
Plus they wanted to show who the boss was. In response to this, the colonists in New York argued that the bill was unfair and that they should be asked and not told what to do, so Parliament passed the New York Restraining Act, which stopped the passing of any laws until the assembly went over the law. The soldiers were forced to pitch tents in the middle of Boston Common, making the colonist not that excited either. The British government was now known for passing insane laws, but when the government passed the Coercive Acts the colonists had enough. The Coercive Acts were also known as the Intolerable Acts. They closed the port of Boston to trade except for food and firewood until the colonists paid for the tea they destroyed at the Boston Tea Party with the Boston Port Act.
It created British military rule in Massachusetts and made town meetings forbidden without approval with the Massachusetts Government Act. It gave protection to British officials being prosecuted in Massachusetts and allowed them to be prosecuted in England or any other colony that wasn’t Massachusetts with the Administration of Justice Act. The bill renewed the Quartering Act and gave the French in Quebec control of the Ohio Valley and made the Roman Catholic Church the official church of the area with the Quebec Act. In Lexington and Concord British troops and the colonies’ militiamen were getting into scuffles and that was how to armed conflict started. In response to this the colonists created an event known as the First Continental Congress in 1774.
At this event all colonies, excluding Georgia, sent representatives to the First Continental Congress making it the first national meeting of the colonies. They came together in opposition with the bills the British government was passing so they issued two new documents. The Declaration of Rights, which opposed Parliament’s right to tax the colonies, but affirmed allegiance to the British, and the Articles of Association, which asked the colonies to make British imports illegal if the Coercive Acts were not eliminated. It took three major battles to lead up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. The Declaration declared the colonies independent from Great Britain. The American Revolution ended with the Treaty of Paris, but now before another three more major battles.
The American Civil War was sparked by difficulties in the spreading of power and who was more powerful, the state or federal authority. The North, at the time, was industrialized and running smoothly, while the South was more agricultural. The North had factories, while the South had farms. The South was dependent on slave labor; it was their root to running their economy. The North didn’t want slavery to spread across the rest of the lands and the South was in fear that their economy would essentially fail without slave labor. So in 1854 the United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened all the new territories to slavery, but allowed them to choose whether they wanted slavery or not, this was called popular sovereignty. Both sides, anti-slavery and pro-slavery were in disagreement with this new law, which led up to the formation of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party was a new political group based on the opposition of the expansion of slavery to western lands. The Dred Scott case confirmed the North’s worse fears, and confirmed the South’s dreams. The Dred Scott v. Sanford case took place in Missouri. Scott argued that because he lived in the free state he would therefore have emancipation from his owner. Unfortunately his case brought to a rabid supporter of slavery, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney who disagreed. The court claimed that no African Americans, free or enslaved, could become a legal U.S. citizen, hence not being able to file a petition for freedom.
This case made rising tension between the North and South climb to new heights. So when an abolitionist named John Brown and a few of his supporters raided Harper’s Ferry in 1859 the South was convinced that the North was fixed on the destruction of slavery. John Brown had hopes that the local slaves would join in and raid with him and his supporters, but they didn’t. Brown’s plan was foiled when he and his supporters were captured by Colonel Robert E. Lee’s US Marines. He was sent to court, charged with treason, and was given the death sentences. Brown was hanged for his ‘crimes’ on December 2nd, 1859. The South was looking for reason to leave their polar opposites. So when Abraham Lincoln was elected to presidency it was the last straw for the seven southern states and the seceded from the United States.
Lincoln’s election led to danger for Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. April 12th, 1861 Lincoln sent a fleet to deliver supplies to Sumter, during their visit the Confederate Army fired the first shots of the event that came to be known as the Civil War. After just two days of gunfire, Sumter commander Major Robert Anderson surrendered, leaving Sumter in the control of Confederate forces; who were led by Pierre G.T. Beauregard. After Sumter, four more Southern states, including: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee, joined the Confederate Army. The North had advantages, like an enormous population and factories to build weapon supplies in, and railroads. The South had military traditions and some of the best soldiers, but even they couldn’t surpass the North in numbers and supplies.
The next major battle took place in Manassas, Virginia. This battle was known as the First Battle of Bull Run. General McDowell led 28,000 men from the Union Army in a fight against General Beauregard’s 33,000 Confederate soldiers. The Union Army marched toward Richmond, but was met by the Confederate forces emerging north from Manassas. The battle lasted five hours. During that five hours the Union soldiers had most of the Confederate soldiers retreating, except the team led by General Jackson. Jackson had a great ability holding his ground, which is why people had come to call him “Stonewall.” His technique helped the Confederate soldiers hold up until reinforcements arrived, then they were able to drive the Union Army back to Washington. Both sides faced heavy casualties, but in the end the South claimed victory.
The next battle was led by General B. McClellan. McClellan was slow to advance and that angered Lincoln. Finally McClellan led the Potomac Army to the peninsula between the York and James Rivers and captured Yorktown on May 4. Robert E. Lee and General Jackson joined forces and drove out the Potomac Army in the Seven Days’ Battle, which lasted from June 25th, 1862 to July 1st, 1862. During the battle McClellan called for reinforcements twice, the second time Lincoln refused and instead withdrew the Army to Washington. Soon after the battle McClellan was replaced by Henry W. Halleck. There were a lot of battles after this one, but the war ended with Lincoln passing the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves, and his assassination on April 14th.
Some similarities within the two wars were the leaders involved with the wars. The leaders tended to be former soldiers who were dedicated to their jobs, they were focused, and most of them possessed a useful skill that helped them win. Another similarity between the two wars would have to be the cause of war. Both of the wars were the response to an oppressive government and the problem of setting boundaries between people and government. Both wars were always on American land and Americans fought other Americans. Although the wars were fairly short they ended with unity.
Some differences within between the two wars would be the parties included in the wars. The American Revolution was the colonists versus the British government, while the Civil War was the North versus the South. The Civil War had far more advanced weaponry, while the American Revolution had close range fighting equipment, more medieval.
Overall the statement that the Civil War was the second American Revolution is completely true. They had common factors that contributed to the spark of the wars and they both ended in a common unity between all the participants.
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