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Civil War (1861-1865) Brief


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This, being a Civil War, was so broad in its scope that almost everyone living through that era in the United States was affected. Some more than others, but even those that didn’t serve in either army were greatly touched by this conflict. The nation was divided for many years after the end of the war and some have said, that economically, the south didn’t fully recover until the 1950’s or 1960’s. Certainly the scars ran deep on both sides.

I’ve heard it said that with regards to the civil war, tensions had been brewing for some time. By way of analogy if you were to say that slavery was the fuse, then the idea of states rights was the explosive charge. More specifically, how much power does the federal government have to tell the states what to do. This concept in the constitution of “all other rights not enumerated” being devolved to the states and then to the people is a concept that has been a sticking point in many issues. I’m not sure, but I think it was Shelby Foote who said that the war changed the identity of the United States. Before the war, you would see phrases like “the United States are going to….” as we were a Union of Sovereign States (big S states here, meaning on equal footing with other countries in some sense.) After the war you would see the attitude change somewhat “the United States is going to….” So in his words, the Civil War changed the United States from an “are” to an “is”.

If one of your ancestors was born between 1806 and 1847 then it would be worth searching to see if they were involved in the Civil War.