Jan 25, 2018 in History

The Civil War as a Second American Revolution

The Civil War began in 1861 is often characterized as a second American revolution

Many historians and scientists after analyzing all the materials related to Civil War agree that this war was different from any civil war happened anywhere. Data about 600 hundred thousand people who died reveals that was actually a serious war. However, there are key events and features that allow classify this war as revolutionary one.

It was revolutionary in a sense that the term ‘civil war’ implies dramatic fight of organized groups of people with army forces within the territory of one state for the improvement of social norms or political system; and the Civil War that is under consideration had totally destroyed slavery regime existing for a long time on the territory of the Unites States of America. It is revolution and not any conflict within a nation is able to turn upside down the political and social rules and norms in a country. Henry Thoreau described the idea in his work Life without principle: “it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be; what is once well done is done forever” (p. 488). Revolution is a complicated system aimed to fulfill its key issues that usually contradict to the existing ones. It always takes place when the previous regime rules are no more effective, when people almost suffocate from the system and its leaders. Burke highlighted that “a love of freedom is the predominating feature” (p.3). Slavery became a wild feature in a society that experienced rapid development. In a new land where settlers were searching for better life nothing could change. That is why there appeared a new idea in human minds.

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will of legislative authority of man; but only to have the law of nature for this rule (Adams, p. 109).


Many historians now believe that Civil War was a transitory phase of a big plan

And this idea is proved by the considerable extent of the revolutionary war. This dramatic event led to the total changing of the political system. New government accumulated new ideas of arrangement of classes which determined new system of distribution of money. Boyd declared that “all Men are created equal” (p.1). The industrial development of the country was mainly caused by the Civil War: the rapid invasion of industrial capitalism was the consequence of destroying slavery. The absence of free of charge workers meant the necessity to enlarge incomes of owners in order to be able to pay for the work of the former slaves who needed money for living.

Economists name the key feature of the Civil War that allows call it a real revolution. Its main success consists in victory of industrial capitalism. The ruling class understood that new regime is an effective way in strengthening their influence and financial capital.

Legacy of Civil War as a Second American Revolution

The legacy of the Civil War as a revolutionary event became important for the development of future American society based on democratic principles. Negro emancipation led to the gradual increasing of their status in a society. Now there exists a politically correct variant of the word ‘Negro’ – Afro-American, as negro is considered to be an offensive word. Calhoun points out “Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved” (p.602).

One more achievement of the second revolution is the establishment of contract labor. As legislation, norms of banking, railroad tariffs and rules, regulations related to public land and many others. Adams pointed out “all positive and civil laws, should conform as far as possible, to the Law of natural reasons and equity” (p.109). These very features distinguish this Civil War among all civil wars which did not have such a prominent effect on the history of the world and of the United States in particular.

One more distinguished feature of the Civil War that its leader Abraham Lincoln had ideas different from these ones declared by the Revolution. Thus, being an inveterate mercantilist he refused free-market capitalism. Also he doubted canons of civilization, constitutional rights of people, freedom, equality and fraternity of people regardless their skin color. Nothing could alter his belief in superiority of white people in comparison with the black ones. He saw America created for people like him and not for others. Lack of coincidence between revolution and its leader outlines this event from the list of outstanding revolutions of all times.      

To sum it up it should be pointed out that the Civil War is justly considered to be a second American revolution. Douglass pointed out that “peace men preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage” (p.595). It brought key changes to the main aspects of human life. Different leaders were appealing to the equity of all people in their speeches. Any power was considered as violence. Only tolerance was believed to be acceptable in new society.

In spite of the fact that a big number of people died, the Civil War was marked by the triumph of freedom of black slaves and equity of black and white people. Equity was proclaimed as the main principle in social relationship formation. Tolerance was applied in the attitude to others concerning their religious, cultural or social preferences. Total revolution has brought total freedom in everything.


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