Manifest destiny, slavery, and the civil war essay sample

1. Established at the outset of the nineteenth century was Manifest Destiny, which emerged as the guiding tenet and ideology for American foreign policy. Manifest Destiny of the 1840s has been argued to be a product of American nationalism and the impulse to expand its frontier to the west coast of North America. Ultimately, the ideology of Manifest Destiny drove the territorial expansion that resulted in the outbreak of the Civil War. The history of American expansionism during the nineteenth century indeed retained a racial paradox at its core: while American conquests across the Pacific Ocean and the North American continent implemented and reinforced the precept of white hegemony, beginning in the 1840s, the conquests were in fact done under the ideology of Anglo-Saxon supremacy. Beyond mere semantics, this argument is legitimated through various speeches and marches that referred to American expansion as Anglo-Saxon expansion. Nonetheless, the primary spark of the Civil War was territorial expansion and the question over whether or not the newly acquired territories would be slave states or frees states. This issue is part and parcel of the question over whether or not the American Civil War was inevitable in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War that had taken place during the eighteenth century and freed the United States from British oppression.
The issue of slavery has been pinpointed as the primary cause of the Civil War, although many scholars deplore such a reductive analysis of the American Civil War. The institution of slavery was the fulcrum of the economy in the American South, and without it, the South could never have subsisted or competed with the North’s industrialized and manufacturing-based economy. The impulse to expand further complicated the slavery question within the United States, as Manifest Destiny and westward expansion retained the specter of retaining new discoveries along with territories. Unfortunately, the debate over whether the newly acquired territories would remain slaveholding states or free ones was the cause of tense political debates. The 1790 Northwest Ordinance established the principle that all territories that were located north of the Ohio River were mandated to remain free, while those South of the river would remain slaveholding territories. Until 1820, there was a balanced of power between slave states and free states in the two regions. The conflict reignited with the 1820 Missouri Compromise when Maine and Missouri were added to the Union, although conflict was averted when Maine was rendered a free state and Missouri a slaveholding state. While the compromise averted controversy, it unequivocally postponed rather than prevented it from exploding in the following decades. The Mexican-American War followed in 1846 and resulted in territory in the American Southwest immediately becoming a part of the United States overnight, which spawned the Compromise of 1850. The ideology of race has been produced and reproduced throughout American history, which is evident through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo after the U. S.-Mexico war which ended in 1848. Mexico ceded 5 million square miles of land, and it shifted the geopolitical borders of the United States and Mexico arbitrarily and overnight. The war was fought as a dispute over the Rio Grande territory and ultimately led to the expansion of American borders. Manifest was at play here as the central and overriding rhetoric ideology for American expansion between the 1840s and 1898. Ultimately, the Compromise of 1850 admitted California into the Union while also granting other newly acquired states the sovereignty to decide whether or not to be a slave state or free state.
In 1845 the United States looked internally at the battle with regards to slavery of the Native Americans and Africans. American politicians and leaders asked themselves if the United States was a nation of free, waged laborers or a nation of enslaved, black workers. The expansion debate thus circled around this issue of enslaved workers versus free, waged laborers. It is unequivocal that no compromise could truly be forged due to the fact that the South depended on slavery for its economic viability. The North did not need slavery for its manufacturing and industrial economy to thrive, which is why the abolition movement gained traction during the 1840s when territorial expansion became a priority for the American government as the ideology Manifest Destiny guided American foreign policy. Indeed, Ideology, or a common set of beliefs, in the United states functions as a lubricant of capitalism, which is motored by slavery as a form of exploited labor so that profits are reaped.
2. At the outset of the Civil War, it seemed clear that the Union had a clear-cut advantage over the Confederacy in every respect, as twenty three northern states with over twenty one million denizens represented the North, while the Confederacy merely had nine million people–three million of which were slaves–and only eleven Confederate states. Despite the disparate population numbers, the Confederate army was nonetheless commensurate in size. Beyond demographics, the Northern army had a huge industrial advantage due to the nature of its economic output and nature. At the outset of the Civil War, the Confederacy reported to have merely on ninth of the industrial capacity of its northern counterparts. However, such statistics are misleading because in 1860, the North reportedly manufactured almost all of the U. S.’ firearms, railroad locomotives, cloth, pig iron, shoes, and boots. In addition, the North had far greater access to railroads per square miles as well as gunpowder, which was imported. The North retained full control over the U. S. Navy, which meant that the Union had control over the seas, and a blockade could effectively put a stranglehold on the South. In turn, the South had at its behest various officers who were trained, as seven out of the eight total military academies were located in the south. The ingenuity of the South and its resourcefulness thus p roved vital due to the Confederacy’s handful of disadvantages. Various armories had been established by the end of the Civil War in the South. Moreover, during the war, because of the dependence on the north for gunpowder, the Confederacy constructed large gunpowder mills, and they melted down various plantation bells and churches in order to get bronze to manufacture their cannons and weapons out of. The greatest strength of the Confederacy, however was its defensive stance it took in the war, as it fought within the confines of its own territory. Southerners were far more familiar with the landscape than their northern counterparts, which enabled them to heckle with and harass Union members when the Union invaded their territory.
Both the political and military objectives articulated by the Union were far more difficult to accomplish than Union leaders had imagined because the United had to conquer and occupy the American South that had seceded. Moreover, it had to commandingly squash the ability and will of the South to resist them, which was a formidable obstacle to overcome in this war. As such, the Confederacy enjoyed the morale advantage at the outset of the war because they were fighting in order to maintain their way of life and southern union. Slavery transformed into a moral cause within the Union agenda once President Abraham Lincoln promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, a political strategy veiled under moral precepts. At the outbreak of the Civil War, key questions such as the question of slaveholding states remained unanswered. While the North clearly had the advantage over the Confederacy on paper, many facets and factors that were not yet determined at the outbreak of war rendered it impossible to determine who possessed the clear-cut advantage.