American Civil War

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American Civil War

American Civil War


Slavery remains one of the most debated topics among politics and ethics even in today's society. However? today slavery does not play a key role in deciding our political desires as it did in the 1800's. Although? slavery has occurred throughout time? dating from the Roman Empire to present-day Africa? slavery is an issue that affects people from all over the world. Numerous debates have taken place about the effects of slavery on the African-American community and whether or not the act of slavery is ethical or not. Slavery is a cruel method to keep people against their will to perform strenuous work without discretion (Steven? 1996).


What are the points of agreement and disagreement between the two authors? Stanley Elkins and James McPherson? concerning the institution of slavery?

In McPherson's expression? the war was "a tragic war of brothers." This view? which brushes class and economic issues aside? treats the two sides in the conflict as more or less moral equals. Other historians have even asserted that the horrors of slavery were exaggerated and that the Old South was not so bad after all.

On the so-called left? historians have argued that the Civil War and Reconstruction period had the effect merely of shoring up the white landowners and ensuring a docile and dependent source of cheap labor in the South. Another group of historians? including a number of prominent black historians? assert that while the war resulted in the abolition of slavery? its democratic content was negligible. They assemble quotations from Lincoln which prove that he was no abolitionist? adduce evidence of racism in the North or among northern soldiers and conclude on that basis that the war was not a struggle for genuine equality and social justice.

McPherson in his book convincingly demonstrated the genuinely revolutionary character of the Civil War. In response to those who denied the existence of meaningful change? the author pointed out that "the abolition of slavery represented a confiscation of about three billion dollars of property—the equivalent as a proportion of national wealth to at least three trillion dollars in 1990. In effect? the government of 1865 confiscated the principal form of property in one-third of the country? without compensation (McPherson? 2001)."

He further showed that while the black population in the late nineteenth century suffered severely from poverty and racism? the relative changes were quite extraordinary. The rate of literacy for blacks? for example? increased by 200 percent in the 15 years from 1865 to 1880 and 400 percent from 1865 to 1900. Based on the work of two other historians? he points out that "black per capita income in these seven states [of the lower South] jumped from a relative level of only 23 percent of white income under slavery to 52 percent of the white level by 1880. Thus? while blacks still had a standard of living only half as high as whites in the poorest region of the country ...
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