Effects of the Civil War


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In Chapter 15 of Inhuman Bondage, David Davis writes about the Civil War and describes the lasting impact it had on the United States. The most interesting aspect of Davis’ writing in this chapter, was to me, how the country came to terms with the war after it was over. With the North winning, slavery was effectively finished in the U.S. and President Lincoln was heralded as a hero. Davis gives an example of an African American man kneeling to the President during an instance of slaves being freed. Lincoln responded by telling the man “don’t kneel to me”(298). This is the type of characterization of Lincoln that I have come to expect. He is often portrayed as a beacon of moral superiority and hero of sorts. Davis writing in this section is consistent with that narrative.  Another interesting aspect of the chapter was how the North was able to keep the Civil War deemed a “good war” (299) by not decimating the south after it was over. This is in part because it was necessary in keeping the country together. Robbie Mangone discusses this more in his blog post (http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/a-necessary-evil/). In addition, Davis says that another reason it was deemed a good war is that the North didn’t unleash “full vengeance” on the states that had seceded and kept blacks from taking over parts of the south. He also goes on to explain that the North allowed the south to essentially recreate their own identity after the war was over which was huge in keeping tensions between the North and South at a minimum. This is something I hadn’t ever considered before. After a war of that magnitude, it is safe to assume that the South had deep-seated feelings of resentment and hatred for the North. Northerners had to act delicately in order to restore the country to where it needed to be. It was tremendously important that they handled the situation this way and I like that Davis included this in his writing.

Another important point Davis brings up in his writing is the shrewdness of President Lincoln during the war. He describes the President as “keenly aware” (309) of how delicate the issue of slavery still was during the war. The President was sure to act carefully and made sure that his Emancipation Proclamation did not include slaves from Union states like Maryland. This turned out to be a brilliant tactical move, helping the North assure victory. I think Davis did a very nice job throughout the chapter of characterizing the President, describing his impact on the outcome of the war and explaining exactly how significant this war was on the development of the country.