Why The North Won The Civil War By David Donald: Reflection On The Economic, Military, Diplomatic, Political, And Social Reasons The South Lost

1391 words - 6 pages

Why the North Won the Civil WarHistorians have argued inconclusively for years over the prime reason for Confederate defeat in the Civil War. The book Why the North Won the Civil War outlines five of the most agreed upon causes of Southern defeat, each written by a highly esteemed American historian. The author of each essay does acknowledge and discuss the views of the other authors. However, each author also goes on to explain their botheration and disagreement with their opposition. The purpose of this essay is to summarize each of the five arguments presented by Richard N. Current, T. Harry Williams, Norman A. Graebner, David Herbert Donald, and David M. Potter. Each author gives ...view middle of the document...

His theories and beliefs formed a basis for military strategy and technique that would be used throughout the war. The Confederacy takes blame for their failure to adapt and develop new strategy as the war progressed. Williams sums this up by saying, "Lee and the other Confederate commanders were pretty much the same men in 1865 that they had been in 1861." (p.53) The North, however, is given credit for their willingness to modernize and adapt more effective strategies. This played a large role in contributing to the North's upperhand of leadership. Aside from solely military leadership, Williams merits the North in that President Lincoln was "an abler and a stronger man than Davis." (p.56) Lincoln's boldly offensive strategy that was eventually carried out by Grant proved successful to Union victory.Norman A. Graebner, in his essay "Northern Diplomacy and European Neutrality", attributes Southern failure to a different cause. Northen diplomatics, Graebner points out, are what saved the Union. If the Confederacy had received aid from a European power, it would have likely made a drastic change in the outcome of the war; the North knew this. The South hoped to gain allies with its dominant power in the cotton industry. Southern trade relations had improved dramatically since the explosion of cotton, and they hoped to use this to their benefit. Unfortunately, President Lincoln's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, made it his personal duty to prevent the intervention of a foreign power. Seward explained to the foreign governments that they were allies of the United States as a whole, and that no "de facto governments" existed. He was very successful in his efforts to wane other powers away from intervention. Threats were even made by Seward towards the British government explaining that any acknowledgement of the Confederate government would "be regarded as a manifestation of hostility by the United States." (p.65) In addition, the South failed to recognize the North's economic importance to its desired allies as well. Edouard de Stoeckl, the Russian Minister, made it clear from the beginning that Russia was a long standing friend of the United States and the last thing they wanted to see was a collapse in the Union. The British, followed by France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Brazil, issued a declaration of neutrality at the beginning of the war in order to prevent her involvement. This angered the North because by declaring neutrality, the British had recognized the South as a nation separate from the North. All the while, Seward had continued to sustain pressure among the foreign powers, making threats and promising wars. He scared away possible Southern allies by promising them war, and even threatened military action if they so much as spoke with Confederate leaders, officially or unofficially.The social aspect of Confederate defeat is discussed in David Herbert Donald's essay "Died of Democracy". He begins by pointing out that ...


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