This site is designed to help us learn about Social Studies and other areas of interest "beyond the classroom." I plan to enter a post at least once a week, so I hope you join us in this conversation on learning.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This entry is primarily, but not exclusively, for our 8th grade classes. I hope you enjoy your time spent here!
We have been studying the American Civil War (1861-1865). There are many complicated issues surrounding this war. The casualties resulting from this epic war exceed 660,000. This, to me, is a staggering figure. It makes me ask “What issues were so important to government leaders and citizens of that time that they would allocate so many human and material resources to that struggle?” As residents of a Northern state, a state that was also on the “winning” side of this conflict, it is not uncommon for our students to align themselves with the Union cause while criticizing the Confederate cause in the process. After all, the Southern states seceded and fired on Ft. Sumter (Charleston, SC), and Lincoln was only fulfilling his oath to “...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution....” ...oh yea! ...and the South had slaves! A closer look at some of these issues may, however, reveal some information to get you questioning where you stand on the issue of southern secession and the Civil War in general. I hope so.
When South Carolina and the other southern states seceded following Lincoln’s election, they based their actions on the belief that their “states rights” were being lost to the more populous, and soon to be more numerous Northern states. They were concerned that the North was controlling legislation in Congress and using this power to enhance northern interests at the expense of the “South.” If things continued as they were, the northern states would not only control Congress, but it would be almost impossible for a southern candidate to be elected to the Presidency. Given that, Supreme Court judges would all be Republican appointees, thus jeopardizing the system of “Checks and Balances” that was so carefully integrated into the U.S. Constitution by the “Founding Fathers.”
The North denied these southern accusations, and, eventually, the wealthy men who controlled southern politics convinced southern citizens to secede. The Confederate States of America was formed with Jefferson Davis elected as the first President.
The following links (Morill Act,Homestead Act 1862, Contract Labor Law )contain information concerning some of the legislation that was passed during the Civil War and shortly after. There was no longer any southern opposition in Congress, so these laws were passed without much resistance. Read through them. Think about what you are reading and ask yourself if the South had legitimate reasons to withdraw from the Union.
Also, read this site on the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. ...I thought northerners were for emancipation and granting civil rights to all people regardless of color?!! Once you have done this, please answer the "Secession-Draft Riots" survey that is found in my Wikispaces folder.