CIVIL WAR IN THE USA (1).docx - Out of War, a New Nation...

This preview shows page 1 - 5 out of 15 pages.

Out of War, a New NationSpring 2010, Vol. 42, No. 1By James M. McPhersonEnlargeAn 1870 engraving of the Battle of Gettysburg, possibly Pickett s charge. (Libraryof Congress)The Civil War had a greater impact on American society and the polity than anyother event in the country’s history.
It was also the most traumatic experience endured by any generation ofAmericans.At least 620,000 soldiers lost their lives in the war, 2 percent of the Americanpopulation in 1861. If the same percentage of Americans were to be killed in a warfought today, the number of American war dead would exceed 6 million. Thenumber of casualties suffered in a single day at the battle of Antietam onSeptember 17, 1862, was four times the number of Americans killed and woundedat the Normandy beaches on D day, June 6, 1944. More Americans were killed inaction that September day near Sharpsburg, Maryland, than died in combat in allthe other wars fought by the United States in the 19th century combined.How could such a conflict happen?Why did Americans fight each other with a ferocity unmatched in the Western worldduring the century between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and thebeginning of World War I in 1914?
EnlargeThe Wilmot Proviso specified slavery should be excluded in all territories won fromMexico. (Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, RG 233)The origins of the American Civil War lay in the outcome of another war fought 15years earlier: the Mexican-American War. The question whether slavery could
expand into the 700,000 square miles of former Mexican territory acquired by theUnited States in 1848 polarized Americans and embittered political debate for thenext dozen years.In the House of Representatives, northern congressmen pushed through theWilmot Proviso specifying that slavery should be excluded in all territories wonfrom Mexico. In the Senate, southern strength defeated this proviso. SouthCarolina Senator John C. Calhoun introduced instead a series of resolutionsaffirming that slaveholders had the constitutional right to take their slave propertyinto any United States territory they wished.These opposing views set the terms of conflict for the next decade. When 80,000Forty-Niners poured into California after the discovery of gold there in 1848, theyorganized a state government and petitioned Congress for admission to the Unionas the 31st state. Because California’s new constitution banned slavery, thisrequest met fierce resistance from southerners. They uttered threats of secession ifthey were denied their "right’ to take slaves into California and the other territoriesacquired from Mexico. The controversy in Congress grew so heated that SenatorHenry S. Foote of Mississippi flourished a loaded revolver during a debate, and hiscolleague Jefferson Davis challenged an Illinois congressman to a duel. In 1850the nation seemed held together by a thread, with war between free and slavestates an alarming possibility.

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 15 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Summer
Professor
Adriana Arias
Tags
Abraham Lincoln, Test, Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, The Gettysburg Address,

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture