The Importance of Teaching American Civil War History

Many people think the American Civil War was a fight in America about slavery. It was not an isolated American battle. It had global effects that are important to note. Newspapers around the world followed and reported the news that America had the largest slavery system that was being crushed by war. America was showing the world that a new nation expanded the belief in democracy by allowing freedom to all people.

This global effect is why it is important to teach students about the American Civil War. The worldwide consequences of the American Civil War is the focus of this article and how it affects today and the future nations of the world. The information comes from an article, “The American Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction on the World Stage”, by Edward L. Ayers

Newspapers quoted President Abraham Lincoln as he addressed the global audience by saying, the Civil War embraces more than the fate of the United States. “It presents to the whole family of man, the question, whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy…can, or cannot maintain its territorial integrity.” He went on to say that the Civil War was a struggle that has confronted all nations in history with “a fair chance in the race of life.”

Lincoln’s words brought global attention to the conflicts facing the United States were conflicts that appeared throughout history at different times with different forms. The war defined: the meaning of nationhood; warfare in the industrial age; and the reconstruction of a society.

Basically, America was still a new nation experimenting with a representative government held together by law. It was not held together, as other nations by religion or monarch. The grand experiment that would have an effect on the world was based on how it handled a crisis that could tear it down.

A Look At the Global History of the United States

America was made up of global history. Creation of the society came from European ideas of government; the economy of Atlantic trade in which cotton was the most commodity; African slavery to work the Southern plantation fields; Manifest Destiny of getting more and more land from the American Indians and European powers; and the migration from Europe. As America was taking shape, the other nations were watching. It was the grand experiment of modern western history.

A closer Look at the Global Ideas That Made America

For the first 300 years after Columbus, slavery was widespread throughout the world. Colonies developed and enslaved people to work the land. Colonies came and went, and economies crashed. As a result, slavery, in most colonies, declined. In America, however, cotton became a giant in global economies. The slaves were worth more than railroads and factories. The American South moved toward the permanence of slavery.

Justice ideals circulated within European societies and it made the South appear aberrant as a modern society, which was based on slavery.

The South threatened to secede and the regional (Northern) Republicans emphasized the need for a Union. They argued that it was necessary for the integrity of a nation, created by a legal compact, to show large democracies that internal struggles can be survived. This allowed the United States to become a worldwide player alongside monarchies and aristocracies.

How the War Influenced Modern Global Warfare

Although America used the old-fashioned method of warfare, the technologies that were developed proved to be an influence worldwide. Importing ideas from abroad, both the North and South innovated railroads and telegraphs to extend supply lines, speed troop reinforcements, and allowed vast armies to mobilize. Many countries abroad thought that the use of the technologies would slow progress or get in the way of battles. On the contrary, the speedy communications and transport of troops became the tools of modern warfare.

Internal Changes After the Civil War

Slavery ended with Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation, but the struggle did not end. It was not until hundreds of years later was a semblance of liberty maintained. Even now, equality among all people has a tenuous hold.

The American Civil War was not an isolated incident in a small nation across the Atlantic. It had ramifications for global nations. The history needs to be taught for students to see how history is interrelated.