The outcomes of the Civil War underwent multiple debates because of the existing arguments for and against the victory of the Union and vice versa. Although the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery proved the defeat of the South, there were significant elements in American history to prove that the South “won” the war. Not all people believed that slavery could be stopped, and many rich landowners did not want to free their workers. Thus, it could seem that the South won the Civil War because some states were able to protect against slavery, most African Americans lived in poverty, and Black rights remained significantly restricted.
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The attitudes toward slaves and their rights varied in different American states. On the one hand, slavery abolishment was officially ratified by Congress on December 6, 1865, and described in the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. On the other hand, many black residents continued addressing the President. In the “Petition of Black Residents of Nashville (1865),” they underlined their loyalty and devoted friendship with the Union because Tennessee masters wanted to bring their slaves back after the Government’s reorganization (Foner, 2019). These legitimate concerns were sent by African Americans who did not receive the required guarantees for their freedom even after the Union’s victory.
Another argument to discuss the possibility of the South’s superiority at the end of the 19th century was the petition to Andrew Johnson in October 1865. In the “Petition of Committee on Behalf of the Freedmen to Andrew Johnson (1865),” the citizens of Edisto Island, South Carolina, opposed the promotion of land monopoly as it was dangerous for the chosen course of freedom (Foner, 2019). The Government did not provide the freedman with enough resources and opportunities to improve their lives and protect their families. In the end, Johnson defined the petition, which explained many freemen remained poor without having properties and chances for surviving under free conditions.
Finally, even the creation of a Sharecropping Contract in 1866 could be considered the South’s victory. Evident benefits were renting possibilities for black workers, fixed wages, and similar crop shares. At the same time, in a Sharecropping Contract (1866), some limitations, like the obedience to supervisors, the binding nature of the agreement, and laborers’ payments for disobedience, were present (Foner, 2019, 2020). Many former slaves could not buy land from their supervisors and live as per their needs and interests. The intention to achieve a compromise between black independence and white control was hardly achieved, and the South proved its reasons for slavery to be permanent in the United States.
In general, the documents from Voices of Freedom and personal evaluation help create an argument that the South “won” the Civil War in some way. The number and powers of rich landowners prevailed over the supporters of slavery abolishment and limited the opportunities of free people in multiple ways. Time and long-lasting reconstructions were required to stop slavery, which allowed Americans to consider the South’s victory.
Foner, E. (2019). Voices of freedom: A documentary reader (6th ed., vol. 1). W.W. Norton & Company.
Foner, E. (2020). Give me liberty! An American history, Seagull (5th ed., vol. 2). W.W. Norton & Company.
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