North versus South

Different developments in the North and South-The northern soil and climate favored smaller farmsteads rather than large plantations. Industry flourished, fueled by more abundant natural resources than in the South, and many large cities were established (New York was the largest city with more than 800,000 inhabitants). By 1860, one-quarter of all Northerners lived in urban areas. Between 1800 and 1860, the percentage of laborers working in agricultural pursuits dropped drastically from 70% to only 40%. Slavery had died out, replaced in the cities and factories by immigrant labor from Europe. In fact, an overwhelming majority of immigrants, seven out of every eight, settled in the North rather than the South. Transportation was easier in the North, which boasted more than two-thirds of the railroad tracks in the country and the economy was on an upswing. Far more Northerners than Southerners belonged to the Whig/Republican political party and they were far more likely to have careers in business, medicine, or education. In fact, an engineer was six times as likely to be from the North as from the South. Northern children were slightly more prone to attend school than Southern children.
The fertile soil and warm climate of the South made it ideal for large-scale farms and crops like tobacco and cotton. Because agriculture was so profitable few Southerners saw a need for industrial development. Eighty percent of the labor force worked on the farm. Although two-thirds of Southerners owned no slaves at all, by 1860 the South’s “peculiar institution” was inextricably tied to the region’s economy and culture. In fact, there were almost as many blacks – but slaves and free – in the South as there were whites (4 million blacks and 5.5 million whites). There were no large cities aside from New Orleans, and most of the ones that did exist were located on rivers and coasts as shipping ports to send agricultural produce to European or Northern destinations. Only one-tenth of Southerners lived in urban areas and transportation between cities was difficult, except by water. Only 35% of the nation’s train tracks were located in the South. Also, in 1860, the South’s agricultural economy was beginning to stall while the Northern manufacturers were experiencing a boom. A slightly smaller percentage of white Southerners were literate than their Northern counterparts, and Southern children tended to spend less time in school. As adults, Southern men tended to belong to the Democratic political party and gravitated toward military careers as well as agriculture.

Abolitionist movement-The abolitionist movement was a social and political push for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. Advocating for emancipation separated abolitionists from more moderate anti-slavery advocates, who argued for gradual emancipation, and from “Free-Soil” activists who sought to restrict slavery to existing areas and prevent its spread. Radical abolitionism was partly fueled by the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, which prompted many people to advocate for emancipation on religious grounds. The abolitionist movement became increasingly prominent in Northern churches and politics beginning in the 1830s, which contributed to the regional animosity between North and South leading up to the Civil War.

Missouri compromise-The Missouri Compromise was an effort by Congress to defuse the sectional and political rivalries triggered by the request of Missouri late in 1819 for admission as a state in which slavery would be permitted. At the time, the United States contained twenty-two states, evenly divided between slave and free. Admission of Missouri as a slave state would upset that balance; it would also set a precedent for congressional acquiescence in the expansion of slavery. Earlier in 1819, when Missouri was being organized as a territory, Representative James Tallmadge of New York had proposed an amendment that would ultimately have ended slavery there; this effort was defeated, as was a similar effort by Representative John Taylor of New York regarding Arkansas Territory.

Extension of the Missouri Compromise Line westward but it never reached the Pacific
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Fugitive Slave Act-The Fugitive Slave Acts were a pair of federal laws that allowed for the capture and return of runaway slaves within the territory of the United States. Enacted by Congress in 1793, the first Fugitive Slave Act authorized local governments to seize and return escaped slaves to their owners and imposed penalties on anyone who aided in their flight. Widespread resistance to the 1793 law led to the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which added more provisions regarding runaways and levied even harsher punishments for interfering in their capture. The Fugitive Slave Acts were among the most controversial laws of the early 19th century.

Underground Railroad-The Underground Railroad was a network of people, African American as well as white, offering shelter and aid to escaped slaves from the South. It developed as a convergence of several different clandestine efforts. The exact dates of its existence are not known, but it operated from the late 18th century to the Civil War, at which point its efforts continued to undermine the Confederacy in a less-secretive fashion.

Dred Scott case-The Dred Scott decision was the culmination of the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, one of the most controversial events preceding the Civil War. In March 1857, the Supreme Court issued its decision in that case, which had been brought before the court by Dred Scott, a slave who had lived with his owner in a free state before returning to the slave state of Missouri. Scott argued that time spent in a free state entitled him to emancipation. But the court decided that no black, free or slave, could claim U.S. citizenship, and therefore blacks were unable to petition the court for their freedom. The Dred Scott decision outraged abolitionists and heightened North-South tensions.

A photo of Dred Scott
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Formation Confederacy-The Confederate States of America was a collection of 11 states that seceded from the United States in 1860 following the election of President Abraham Lincoln. Led by Jefferson Davis and existing from 1861 to 1865, the Confederacy struggled for legitimacy and was never recognized as a sovereign nation. After suffering a crushing defeat in the Civil War, the Confederate States of America ceased to exist.

A map of the Confederate states
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Causes of the Civil War (1861-1865)-At the time of the American Civil War, the American North was industrialized and it was trying to compete with the European industries. For that reason, the North was asking for high tariffs on imports, in order to protect its industries. On the contrary, the economy of the American South was based on agriculture. Many states were cotton economies that were also using black slaves from Africa, while slavery had been forbidden at the American North and Europe.
The South did not want high tariffs, because they did not want to pay for more expensive manufactured goods from the American North. The American North was not happy with that, and it was demanding the South to abolish slavery, which would, however, increase the cost of production of cotton. At the time the South had more influence over the Democrats, and the North had more influence over the Republicans, and therefore most Democrats were asking for slavery to be legal and for tariffs to be kept low, while most Republicans were asking the opposite. At the end of 1860, the Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the United States, and he decided to go ahead with the abolition of slavery and the introduction of high tariffs on imports. Some Southern States decided to leave the United States and form a separate state. The crisis that followed led to the American Civil War of 1861-1865. The North won the war and slavery was abolished while high tariffs were implemented.

Developments and outcome of the war-Economic developments and Reconstruction. The Civil War greatly improved the economy of the North but harmed the economy of the South. The Civil War disrupted the Southern economy badly. First of all, it freed the slaves, thus removing the bulk of the Southern workforce and forcing the South to readjust its economy. The most difficult task confronting many Southerners during Reconstruction was devising a new system of labor to replace the shattered world of slavery. The economic lives of planters, former slaves, and nonslaveholding whites were transformed after the Civil War. The final outcome impact of the Civil War was that the North had won the war and slavery was abolished. The impact of the Civil War was the evolution of new war weapons and changes in the economy and the way people lived.

Emancipation Proclamation-On September 22, soon after the Union victory at Antietam, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave, it was an important turning point in the war, transforming the fight to preserve the nation into a battle for human freedom.

Historical accuracy of the movie

“Glory” is a war film of the first African-American enlisted company that engaged in the U.S. Civil War, led by their commanding officer Robert Gould Shaw. In comparison to the previous movie “The Patriot”, this movie is a whole lot more historically accurate and realistic even though both of them are listed as a work of fiction. “Glory” is probably the most historically accurate and powerful movie made about the Civil War and thus has received many rewards.

Firstly we should give the movie some recognition for staying true to itself, meaning that it really shows how wars were fought back then and leaves out all the absurd fighting and other nonsense. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry lost the battle at Fort Wagner, but it was never about winning the battle. It was rather about them going in first and most importantly fighting in a white man’s war. All the happenings, engagements and conditions were very realistic and detailed. The movie also goes into depth with the personalities of its main characters. We meet many different black soldiers throughout the movie, each of them having their own characteristics, but in the end, they have to learn how to cooperate and it makes for a quite touching scene. The bond created between the soldiers themselves and also their commanding officer Shaw is one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

We could call ourselves nitpickers if we wanted to find errors within “Glory”, but even this movie needs some corrections. For instance, the viewer might be left with a perception that the 54th was the only African-American Infantry created during the war. Many others were indeed established and especially in the year 1863 after the haunting battle at Fort Wagner. Clearly, some of the main characters such as Major Forbes and Trip were fictional, yet possibly the biggest character build-ups within the movie are the ones of Trip.

Lastly, when looking at the reviews we are left with mostly positive feedback and close to none negative responses. “Glory does not rely on the visual aspects to accomplish its perfection, but rather it relies on the emotional to convey its message and humanity.” (1) A comment which states that the core of this movie is the emotion behind it and I could not agree more. As we already analyzed this glorious movie does exactly what it was supposed to do. It showed the truth and puts emphasis on the sacrifice of these black soldiers. It speaks directly to the viewer and plays with their emotions. “I was hoping for a little more action but I guess I was satisfied with what little war violence was in it.” (2) A comment made by a viewer who was left a bit disappointed due to the lack of action in the film. This is quite understandable and it all comes down to what the viewer wants from a movie. In reality, the 54th didn’t participate in many battles, so there wasn’t much action to show.



(1) ‘One of the most intricately perfect films’,  2004. IMDB, Available at:

(2) ‘The best civil war movie to date’, 2008. IMDB, Available at:

A visual depiction and its relevance to the topic

The image I have chosen to analyze is a painting that depicts a conflict between the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry and the Confederate soldiers. It is worth mentioning that the amount of detail on this painting is quite astonishing. The painter has managed to create an expression in each of the figures. We are met with a fierce firefight which has just taken off as only a few soldiers have fallen and formations have not yet been formed. Each regiment had its commanding officers and they are shown on horseback in the background. Although usually, they were right in front of their soldiers to keep the morale up and guide them. The fighting style is somewhat similar to the one used in the American Revolutionary War. Soldiers are in tightly closed formations and have to fight using only their muskets until they are close enough to make use of the bayonet attached to the musket or sword. This way of fighting resulted in high rates of casualties and injuries. The idea behind it was to either convince the enemy to leave their position or let them be killed.

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