Make your own free website on

Effects of the Civil War

Causes of the Civil War
Homefront of the Civil War
Effects of the Civil War
Civil War Timeline

The American Civil War

"Effects of the Civil War"


The Civil War was the war in which more Americans were lost than in all other U.S. wars combined. When the smoke cleared upwards of 620,000 men lay dead, and many more wounded. From the war, though, many changes occurred. First and foremost was how the South was to be treated, and should it reenter the Union. Life for black people in the country was also rapidly changed, and they even momentarily experienced social equality. The economy of the South was forced to undergo dramatic changes after the Civil War and was forced to industrialize and modernize extremely quickly.

Many important questions were left to be answered after the War, such as what was to become of the former Confederate States, and how should they be readmitted into the Union. Both Presidents Lincoln and Johnson believed that re-admittance should be easy and quick, and that any animosity between the North and South should be dissolved rapidly. On the completely opposite side, Congress believed that the South should have to pay for starting the War, and so held much higher standards for re-admittance. Congress "considered the confederate states to be 'conquered provinces'" and so once the Radical Republicans took the majority in the legislature; the Military Reconstruction Acts were passed. (Berard, pg. 2). These Acts divided the South into five militarily controlled districts. Under this policy Southern states would not be readmitted into the Union until the majority of its eligible voters approved state constitutions that included the 13th and 14th amendments. By doing this Congress believed that it was effectively putting the South in its place and forcing it at accept the consequences of its defeat. (Goldfield) It is by this point that the real effect of the Civil War can be seen. The War, in essence, firmly established the federal government's superiority over that of the states, and denied those states the right to secede.

After the Civil War the lives of African Americans most obviously changed dramatically. Ever since Lincoln's delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 black people had begun a road to gaining more freedom than their ancestors had ever dreamed of. The Republican controlled Congress passed and ratified the 13th Amendment in 1865, effectively preventing the Southern States from being able to return to slavery. Yet for all the good that came after the War, signs of a bleak future for newly freed slaves were becoming visible. Almost immediately after the South surrendered new social laws were passed by the Southern states to prohibit the activity of the black community. "The Black Codes placed taxes on free blacks who tried to pursue nonagricultural professions, restricted the abilities of blacks to rent land or own guns, and even allowed the children of 'unfit' parents to be apprenticed to the old slave masters. In effect, this was a continuation of slavery." (Cozzens, pg. 1). After Congress realized what was happening in the South with these new black codes, it passed several new laws in an attempt to prevent social inequalities. These laws consist of the admittance of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, as well as the creation of the Freedmen's Bureau. (Goldfield)

By the end of the 1860's , however, the people of the North began to grow tired of trying to maintain order in the South, and so as the North began to lose its will to enforce the civil rights laws that it had passed, white supremacists began to take hold of the South. The Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1866, began to use extreme violence around 1867. This surge of violence came as a result of the large number of African Americans entering politics in the South. As the Northern will to stop organizations such as the Klan failed, those organizations were able to spread their influence with increasingly less resistance. By the time of the election of 1876 Southern Democrats had all but regained control of the South. During the deadlocked election the Republicans traded the control of state governments in the South for the Presidency. (Goldfield) From this point until the last half of the twentieth century, black people in the United States would be forced into a lower level of social status.

The South as a whole was forced to undergo many economic changes in order to survive. One industry that took of in 1870's was the textile industry, which by 1900 rivaled that of New England. The tobacco business also severely changed as a new type a leaf that was better for smoking came to be widely produced, which ultimately lead to the South being the largest producer of tobacco worldwide. Yet even while the South was beginning to explore its new industries, the North continued to expand at unfathomable rates. In order to try to keep up with North expansion Southerners realized that they nearer railways to open up new markets. Between 1880 and 1890 the amount of railway in the South doubled, joined many previously isolated farming communities. (Goldfield) One essayist writes that "the war contributed much to the long-term economic climate that made a reunited America the industrial giant of the twentieth century" (, pg. 2).

The Civil War greatly changed out nation and it is a war whose effects were for the most part positive. With slavery abolished and laws aiming to give black people more rights in the South than those in the North, life for the black man seemed to finally be headed in the right direction. While the North still possessed the will to enforce its laws during Reconstruction it was able to maintain I high level of social order. However, once that will fade, the South seemed to slip into the dark realm of terror and oppression for the black community. As a result of reconstruction the Civil War also helped to modernize the Southern economy and to expand the national economic growth, setting the stage for the economic giant the nation would become at the end of the century.

Works Cited

Berard, Gary. "Civil War Reconstruction Plan." 3 Pages. Online. Internet. 11 June 2006. Available .

Cozzens, Lisa. "State of Blacks." 1 Page. Online. Internet. 11 June 2006. Available .

Goldfield, David. The American Journey. Upper Saddle Dale: Prentice-Hall, 1998.

"Northern Industry in the Civil War." 2 Pages. Online. Internet. 4 June, 2006. Available .

Property of MattInc. (c) 2006 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED