Education Why Civil War is Second American Revolution?

by JEFF STATS - Date: 2007-04-20 - Word Count: 735 Share This!

No doubt that the real meaning of the Civil War is completely different from the one we are used to. Civil War is called the Second American Revolution by some great historians. The term "Second American Revolution" was first used by Charles and Mary Beard about seventy years ago when describing the American Civil War. Only after everything was settled about the reunion and reconciliation, after the construction of monuments were completed, after all the veterans were satisfied, when most of the emotions were dull the Civil War could have been viewed from another prospective, the logical prospective that could easily point out "that armed conflict had been only one phase of the cataclysm, a transitory phase; that at bottom the so-called Civil War, or the War between the States ... was a social war, ending in the unquestioned establishment of a new power in the government, making vast changes in the arrangement of classes, in the accumulation and distribution of wealth, in the course of industrial development, and in the Constitution inherited from the Fathers."

Over the years the term "Second American Revolution" has been viewed differently by different parties. The historians of the Civil War Era always had difficulties with accepting this term. In any case, Civil War greatly changed the sense of balance of political power between North and South and significantly speeded up the appearance of industrial capitalism in the post-war period. Most historians see the abolishing of slavery in the South as the revolutionary result of the war. Another point of view is from people that lived through the war, they saw their struggle as revolutionary. People that lived in the South called their revolt a revolution against the tyranny regime of the North. Northerners, on the contrary, viewed their conflict as a struggle to keep the union, which was formed as the result of revolution against England, together. However, both sides viewed that war as the continuation of their fight for freedom that started in 1776.

The prominent historians Beards were very precise as to what they called a "revolution." In 1940 Louis Hacker briefly summed up what later became recognized as the Hacker-Beard Thesis: "The American Civil War turned out to be a revolution indeed. But its striking achievement was the triumph of industrial capitalism. The industrial capitalist, through their political spokesmen, the Republicans, had succeeded in capturing the state and using it as an instrument to strengthen their economic position. It was no accident, therefore, that while the war was waged on the field and through Negro emancipation, in Congress' halls the victory was made secure by the passage of tariff, banking, public-land, railroad, and contract labor legislation."

Some famous historians and James McPherson occasionally talk of Abraham Lincoln's "Second American Revolution" (the title of one of McPherson's books). They are absolutely correct to describe Lincoln as a revolutionary, however, the explanations they present to support this point of view are not fully complete. It is true that Lincoln led a revolution, but it was an anti-American revolution against nearly all the founding values of the country. It was a revolution against: free-market capitalism (Lincoln was a committed mercantilist); the principles of the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution; the system of states' rights and federalism that was created by the founders; and the prohibitions against waging war on civilians embodied in the international law of the time as well as the canons of Western Christian civilization. Lincoln through all of his life never believed in equality of all races. He always viewed whites as the superior race. Maybe he wanted all races to be equal but not in the U.S. Lincoln is thought to save the union, however, it was only geographically, he destroyed it philosophically, and the union was not voluntary anymore. Lincoln eviscerated constitutional liberties in the North, which permanently weakened the constitutional protections of liberty for all Americans.

Despite all of the arguing of prominent historians, the fact continues to be revealed as the history moves up but at the same time it sort of steps back away in history. I think, it is an individual right for everyone to view the Civil War as the Second American Revolution or not. Each generation will reason and view this event differently, according to background and political views.

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civil war, american history, history essay, american revolution

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