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Big takeaways from the Civil War

The American Civil War, a pivotal event in U.S. history, ended slavery and transformed the country from a union of states to a nation. It spurred industrialization, expanded women's roles, and redefined citizenship. The war's end marked the start of the Gilded Age, a period of rapid growth and change.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user rebekah esquivel
    why is there no mention of the native Americans role?
    (30 votes)
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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user trek
    Given that Pennsylvania was settled by religious groups that were strongly abolitionist, is it really accurate to claim that they would not have taken a stand against it at , especially since so many escaped slaves passed through Undeground Railroad stations in Pennsylvania?
    (5 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Kim Kutz Elliott
      This is a good point, Trek! I am actually a native Pennsylvanian and so it was the state that came to the top of my mind when picking a random Northern state. That being said, abolitionists were really a tiny minority of the population overall, and generally viewed as the lunatic fringe up until the mid-1850s. Though there were lots of Quakers in Pennsylvania, there were also plenty of white Democrats who thought that ending slavery would mean that lots of freed African Americans would come north and swamp the labor market, depressing wages and making jobs scarcer for white men. So Pennsylvania might not have been the best example, but there would have been plenty of Pennsylvanians (probably a majority of them) who wouldn't have been too happy to see the end of slavery.
      (25 votes)
  • purple pi purple style avatar for user ScienceMon
    Has there ever been another war in history that ended slavery?
    (7 votes)
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  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user jptownerhaywood
    is there any information for the effects on the north and south after the civil war?
    (4 votes)
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    • boggle blue style avatar for user Samuel
      Oh yes, here are a few.
      The southern economy was decimated but the northern economy prospered.
      Wars cost money, lots and lots of money, neither side in the civil war had enough money available to finance their efforts. The union tried placing taxes on agricultural and manufactured goods as well as imports, but these did nit provide revenue quickly enough. The federal government printed more paper money. Private citizens loaned the confederate government about 100 million and another 15 million in loans. Some 168000 men died during the war, the highest number of American casualties of any war in our history that was about two percent of the population. The war was such a huge tragedy for the country, affecting so many people, that it’s effects have run deep in many ways, including economically socially and racially.
      Hope this helps!
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Gwendolyn Youmans Jacobs
    how were the new rights given to freed slaves taken away after the civil war
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user ArthurWellesley
      There were a lot of problems with this. The US government made the effort to emancipate them, but afterwards did hardly anything. While a few schools and things were opened, for the most part they were left on there own. Many stayed with there former masters. Many others left there homes, but had nowhere else to go. Many lived in poverty and were not much better of than when enslaved, some of them were unfortunately even worse off.
      (5 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user NatSurf1
    Why didn't the south lie low and put spies in the government, and wait until they would have enough people in the government that they could take over, and keep slavery.
    I am not with slavery it is cruel but why did they just go for an all out attack instead of slowly infiltrating and taking over?
    (3 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user Kishore Karthick
      The advantage of an all out attack over gradual infiltration is, an all out attack is more promising in terms of victory. As of now you have more soldiers so with one big war you win. In a gradual infiltration, you take a gamble. You don’t know what strategies will the enemy take and whether or not will they will become stronger in the long run.
      Hope that helps...
      (2 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user ArthurWellesley
    Were there any Confederate soldiers ( besides the James brothers) that made a name for themselves after the civil war?
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby blue style avatar for user lilhuddy
      Jefferson Davis — Mississippi.
      James Zachariah George — Mississippi.
      Wade Hampton III — South Carolina.
      Robert E. Lee — Virginia.
      Edmund Kirby Smith — Florida.
      Alexander Hamilton Stephens — Georgia.
      Zebulon Baird Vance — North Carolina.
      (1 vote)
  • duskpin seed style avatar for user Meryem Hatouane
    is it true that Booth was also an actor
    (1 vote)
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  • starky tree style avatar for user noa.gibson
    Does this video mention at any point the actual causes of the civil war?
    (1 vote)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user 25andrewy1
    Is it true that some women became spies during the civil war?
    (1 vote)
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    • male robot donald style avatar for user jwblue127
      Many former slaves and some southern Unionists provided valuable local knowledge to Union forces. Confederate women spies, such as "Rebel Rose" Greenhow of Washington, D.C., and Belle Boyd of Virginia were particularly celebrated for their exploits in a Romantic age.
      (1 vote)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] We've been discussing the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 until 1865. It was the deadliest conflict in all of American history, in which 620,000 Americans lost their lives. We briefly went over the very end of the war, as Grant caught up to Lee at Appomattox. And Lee surrendered, and then confederate sympathizer and sometimes spy, John Wilkes Booth assassinated American President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was followed in office by Andrew Johnson, who will preside over reconstruction. But now that we've talked about the progress of war, from the first fighting at Fort Sumter in April of 1861, to the last surrenders in November of 1865, I'd like to take just a few minutes to contemplate what some of the bigger issues that the Civil War raises are in American History. And what impact will it have on the future of American life? Well certainly one of the most important things, if not the most important thing to come out of the Civil War is the end of slavery. You know, before the Civil War, before the 1850s, your average White American, who lived in say Pennsylvania or Kentucky, probably wasn't very fond of slavery, but probably wouldn't have gone out of his or her way to take a stand against it. I think Lincoln himself was very representative of this view, in that, he hated slavery, but he thought that he had no right to interfere with it and he mostly just wanted to make sure that slave owners couldn't bring enslaved people out west to take lands from, what he saw as hardworking, deserving, poorer Whites. By the end of the Civil War, no one could argue that African Americans, especially in the north did not deserve citizenship. Throughout the Civil War, African Americans proved their important to the nation, time and time again. Especially through their military service in units like the 54th Massachusetts for example. And so, for the approximately four and a half million enslaved people who lived in the south, they now had their freedom. And the story of what happens to these people who have been freed from bondage, is perhaps the most interesting, and important story of American history. Does all men are created equal mean all men and women are created equal? That is the question that will occupy the nation in one way or another, up until the present, really. Another major important takeaway from the Civil War is that that Civil War represented a movement in the United States, from a union of states to a nation. And you can even see how Abraham Lincoln's thinking on this changes over the course of the war. He starts to even use the word nation more and more. Throughout the early part of the history of the United States, you see this balance of power between states and between the Federal Government really shifting all of the time. You see things like the nullification crisis in the 1830s when South Carolina said we don't like this tariff. We think that as a state, the union is composed out of the consent of the individual states, and therefore the state has the right to nullify a law it doesn't agree with. The same sort of situation happened in 1860 over slavery. The southern states believed that Lincoln would outlaw slavery, and thought that it would be more important to secede as a group of states protecting in their words, their states rights, then to be subject to the laws of the nation. Well the Civil War ends that kind of thinking. In fact you even see it from how people write the name of this country. Frequently it might have been said before the Civil War these United States. It's a group of states that are united. After the Civil War, it becomes the United States. One nation, indivisible. And so this is the moment when the Federal Government really begins to grow. You know during war time, the north had to really organize as a nation to provide resources for their populace and for the soldiers and so the President gained powers that he had never had before, and the Federal bureaucracy itself grew a great deal. And you're going to see this throughout the 20th century, really up until the 1970s that the Federal Government in the United States is going to have more and more power. A third important takeaway from the Civil War is that during the Civil War the north industrialized to produce all of the goods and material that the north needed to succeed. They built factories, and railroads and those factories and railroads, and all the rest of the impressive engineering that went into winning the war is then going to be turned toward making an industrial behemoth in the post war era. So, a lot of things that started during the Civil War in terms of national industrialization really carry on in the post war era, known as the Gilded Age. That help the United States become the worlds premiere industrial power, and later, based on that industrial power, one of the worlds premiere political powers. Another thing that is not often talked about with the Civil War is the growing role of women in the United States polity. Ya know in the American Civil War, at first it was very taboo for a woman of good birth to go and become a nurse. But as the war progressed, that kind of Victorian thinking, believing that a woman belonged only to a very feminine and domestic sphere of life, really had to fade away in the face of the reality that women needed to play a role in the war. In the north women became nurses. They helped to chair the American Sanitary Commission, which was one of the key hospital groups of the time period. And in the south, many women also really took over the running of family farms as White men went away, White women, poorer White women for example would be in charge of a farm themselves. A White woman who belonged to a slave owning family herself, would then have charge of enslaved people. So women took a much more leading role during the Civil War. After the Civil War, some of that falls away. In fact, there's a really difficult moment in the movement for women's rights when in 1870, the 15th amendment granted African American men the right to vote, but not women. And so the women's movement will take some time to regroup in the late 19th century. But the Civil War, like many later wars, brought women outside the home. And after the war they were not anxious to go back there. They became involved in many charitable organizations, often known as social housekeeping. As women do more and more things outside the home. Which will eventually grow into the women's movement of the early 20th century, and lead to women getting the right to vote. This is just a small sampling of some of the major impacts that the Civil War had on the United States. Often when we think about United States history, we think about it cutting off at the Civil War. Most college courses or high school courses are organized the US before the Civil War, and the US after the Civil War, because it's a really defining moment in our nations history for these reasons, and for many others. The United States entered the Civil War a loose union of states divided by territory and beliefs, and exited the Civil War a single nation. Modern, industrial, peopled by an incredibly diverse range of citizens from all over the world. In other words, after the Civil War, the United States will really come into its own. And that's because the Civil War was the moment when the United States grew up. The United States in 1870, looked a lot more like the year 1900, then it did the year 1860. The 13th amendment, and later the 14th and 15th amendments ruled that people of African descent were citizens of the United States. Remember, beforehand, enslaved people in the south counted for only 3/5ths of a person, and that person couldn't vote, move freely, or own his or her own labor, not to mention their own life. The Civil War decided once and for all that everyone born in the United States was a United States citizen. But what citizenship really meant for African Americans, for women, for Native Americans and immigrants, even for Whites. Was still something that would be hammered out through the rest of the 19th century and the 20th. After the Civil War, the old problems of sectional tension and states rights, were put to rest, but they were replaced by new problems. Problems of modern America. Industrialization, poverty, immigration, and so is the guns of the Civil War fell quiet, the United States embarked into a new era, The Gilded Age.