» Abraham Lincoln took the
presidential oath on March
4, 1861. He came into
Washington disguised to
escape assassins. He thus
became the president of
the dis- United States of
America. American people
would endure four years of
anguish and bloodshed, and
Lincoln would face tortuous
trials of leadership such
have been visited upon few
» Lincoln’s address was firm and that there wouldn’t
be any conflict unless the South provoked it.
Secession, the president declared, was wholly
impractical because physically they can’t.
» Uncontested secession would create new
controversies. What share of the national debt
should the south be forced to take with it? How
would the fugitive slave law be resolved, and the
Underground Railroad would certainly redouble its
activity, and it would have to transport its
passengers only across the Ohio River, not all of the
way to Canada.
» The United States had been paramount republic
in the Western Hemisphere. If this powerful
democracy should break into two parts, and
the European nations would be delighted.
European with no unified republic to stand
across their path could more easily defy the
Monroe Doctrine and seize territory in the
The issue of the divided Union came to a
head over the matter of federal forts in
the South. As the states left they seized
the United States arsenals, mints, and
other public property within their
borders. Fort Sumter was in Charleston
harbor, with fewer than a hundred men.
Fort Sumter was in need of supplies, if
no supplies were coming, its commander
would have to surrender, without firing a
shot. Lincoln did not feel that such a
weak course squared with his obligation
to protect federal property. If they went
and resupplied this Fort, the South
Carolinians would fight back. They would
not tolerate a federal fort blocking the
mouth of their Atlantic seaport.
» Lincoln made a middle of the road solution. He notified South
Carolina that they are going to resupply the fort. He promised that
there would be no arms, ammunition, but to the Southern eyes
still spelled reinforcement.
» A Union force was set out for Fort Sumter, a move that the South
sought as an act of aggression. On April 12, 1861, the cannon open
fired on the Fort. After a 34 hour standoff, the fort surrendered.
» The assault on Fort Sumter provoked the North to a fighting pitch:
the fort was lost, but the Union was saved. Lincoln issued a call to
the states for 75 thousand militia-men, and volunteers sprang to
the colors in many numbers. On April 19 and 27, the president
proclaimed a blockade of Southern seaports.
» The call for troops, in the North and the attack on Fort Sumter in
the South was now both a call to wage war against each other.
» The only slave states left were
the crucial Border States. This
group consisted of Missouri,
Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware,
and later West Virginia.
» In dealing with Border States,
President Lincoln did not rely
solely on morality, he worked the
legality method. In Maryland he
declared martial law where
needed and sent in troops,
because this state threatened to
cut off Washington from the
North. Lincoln also deployed in
Missouri, where they fought side
by side Unionists in a local civil
war within they larger Civil War.
» The South seemed to have great advantages. The
confederacy could fight defensively behind interior
lines. The North had to invade the Confederacy, and
drag it back to the Union side.
» The South did not have to win the war in order to win
its independence, they just had to fight back and stand
» Militarily the South from the opening of the war had
the most talented officers. General Robert E. Lee,
embodied the southern ideal, and at first Lincoln
offered him to fight on the Union side, but when
Virginia fell into the Southern side he felt obligated to
fight with him home state. There was also Stonewall
» Besides their leaders, the Southerners were
also bred to fight. They were accustomed to
managing horses and they made excellent
cavalrymen and foot soldiers.
Weaknesses of the South
» The South had fewer factories. Yet by seizing
federal weapons, running Union blockades, and
developing their own ironworks.
Advantages of the North
Nevertheless, as the war dragged on, grave shortages of shoes, uniforms,
and blankets disabled the South. The economy was the greatest Southern
weakness; it was the North’s greatest strength. The North was not only a
huge farm but a sprawling factory as well. The north had about ¾’s of the
nation’s wealth, and it included ¾’s of the 30 thousand miles of railroad.
The North also controlled the sea. Their navy established a blockade that
will choke off Southern supplies, and eventually shattered Southern
morale. The sea power also enabled the North to exchange huge amounts
of grain for ammunitions and supplies from Europe.
The Union also enjoyed a much larger reserve of manpower. Their
population was around 22 million; the seceding states had 9 million
people, including 3.5 million slaves.
Large numbers of them were induced to enlist in the Union army.
Altogether about one-fifth of the Union forces were foreign-born, and in
some units military commands were given in four different languages.
North Weaknesses
The North was less fortunate in it higher
commanders. Lincoln was forced to use a costly
trial and error method to sort out effective
leaders form the many horrible officers, until
Ulysses S. Grant, who was determined to win at
any cost.
» In the long run, the north had the advantage,
but the south and their chances for
independence were favorable.
» Southerners counted on hard economic need to bring Britain to
their aid. Why did King Cotton fail them? It failed because he had
been so lavishly productive in the immediate prewar years of 18701860. Enormous amounts of cotton in those years had piled up in
British warehouses.
» After a year and a half of not producing any cotton, there was a
cotton famine in Britain. Britain looked elsewhere for their cotton,
and Egypt and India responded to Britain and increased their
output and captured share of the world’s cotton market. Finally,
booming war industries in England, which supplied both the North
and South relieved unemployment.
» The north was able to produce many amounts of grain, and at
that time Britain suffered with a series of bad harvests. They were
forces to import huge quantities of grain from America, which
happened to be the cheapest and most abundant supply.
» Jefferson Davis was tense,
humorless, legalistic, and
stubborn- and was repeatedly in
hot water. He was an excellent
orator and an able administrator;
he at no time enjoyed real
personal popularity and was often
at odds with his congress.
» Davis was somewhat inclined to
defy rather than lead public
opinion. He suffered from
nervous disorders, including a tic.
He overworked himself with the
government and military
operations. No one doubted his
courage, sincerity, integrity, and
devotion to the South.
» Lincoln also had his troubles,
but on the whole they were
less troubling. The North
enjoyed the prestige of a long
established government,
financially stable and fully
recognized at home and
abroad. As the war dragged
on, old Abe grew tactful, quiet,
patient, yet firm, he developed
a genius for interpreting and
leading public opinion.
» During the war he
demonstrated charitableness
toward the South and
forbearance toward backbiting
» When Lincoln took the oath of office, he swore that
he would uphold the constitution. But when war
broke out Congress was not in session. Brushing up
against objections, he boldly proclaimed a
blockade. He also increased the size of the Federal
army. He suspended the precious privilege of the
writ of habeas corpus, so that anti-unionists might
be arrested. Lincoln’s regime was guilty of many
other high handed acts.
» Jefferson Davis was less able than Lincoln, because
he encouraged intense spirit of localism and states’
rights. The South seemed willing to lose the war
before it would surrender local rights-and it did.
» More than 90 percent of the Union troops were
volunteers, since social and patriotic pressures
to enlist were strong. Most volunteers would
pocket more than 1000.
» Like the North, the South at first relied mainly
on volunteers. But since the Confederacy was
much less populous, it scraped the bottom of
its manpower.
» The north was blessed with the excise tax on
tobacco and alcohol. An income tax was levied and
although the rates were painlessly low by later
standards, they netted a million dollars.
» Congress passed the Morrill Tariff act which
increased existing duties some 5 to 10 percent and
this boost pushed sharply upward by the
necessities of war.
» The Washington Treasury also issued greenbacks,
which was paper money that totaled 450 million at
face value. Greenbacks fluctuated and at one point
only worth 39 cents.
» An impoverished South was beset by different
financial problems. Custom duties were choked off
as the blockade continued. Confederate bonds
were sold at home and abroad to nearly 400
million. Only about 1 percent of the total income
was raised in this way.
» As their income was drying up, the Confederate
government was forced to print paper money. That
Confederate money finally sank to the point where
it was worth 1.6 cents when Lee surrendered.
Overall, the war inflicted a 9000 percent inflation
rate on the Confederacy, contrasted with 80
percent for the Union.
» The South fought to the point of exhaustion. The
suffocation caused by the blockade, together with the
destruction wrought by invaders, took a terrible toll.
» Possessing 30 percent of the national wealth in 1860,
but by 1870 they only claimed 12 percent. The South’s
bid for independence exacted a cruel and devastating
» Transportation collapsed. The South was driven to the
economic craziness. They melted window weights into
bullets; gourds replaced dishes; pins became scare that
they were loaned with reluctance.
» Now cotton capitalism had lost out to industrial
capitalism. The South of 1865 was to be rich in little but
amputees, war heroes, ruins, and memories.

Girding for War: The North and the South