From Oppressed Slaves to Champion Soldiers

This is just a small example of the doubt and hatred that was bestowed on the African American soldiers. However, during the war, they proved themselves to be brave and courageous men on and off the battlefield on many occasions. Despite deep prejudices and harsh criticisms from the white society, these men were true champions of patriotism.
The cause of the Civil War was tension between the North and the South. The sectional division between the areas began in colonial times, largely resulting from geographical differences. The South was ideal for growing tobacco due to the warm climate and the fertile soil. Plantations brought in black slaves from Africa to provide most of the labor required for growing the crop. In time, other plantation crops such as cotton, sugar cane, indigo, and sugar beets were to thrive in the South. "By the onset of the Civil War, 2.4 million slaves were engaged in cotton production" (Long 16). A rural way of life that supported an agrian economy based on slave labor was quickly established in the South. The North, however, was a cooler, rockier climate that would not support the development of plantations. As a result, the North\'s economy came to depend more on trade and industry than on agriculture. This economy supported the growth of cities, although many lived in rural areas during the colonial period. The sectional division between North and South had widened enormously by the mid - 1800\'s. The United States had expanded all the way to the Pacific Ocean and was rapidly becoming a major industrial and commercial nation. However, industry and commerce were centered in the North. The Northerners welcomed modernization and the constant changes it brought to their way of life. Their ideals included hard work, education, economic independence, and the belief that the community had the right and responsibility to decide whether an action was moral or immoral. While Northerners looked forward to a different and better future, Southerners held the present and past dear. They enjoyed a prosperous agricultural economy based on slave labor and wished to keep their old way of life.

By the 1800\'s, northerners viewed slavery as wrong and began a movement to end it. Even though an antislavery minority existed in the South, most Southerners found slavery to be highly profitable and in time came to consider it a positive good. Such situations as the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act raised tensions between the North and the South. The Compromise of 1850 was a group of acts passed by Congress in the hope of settling the dreaded slavery question by satisfing both the North and South. The Compromise allowed slavery to continue where it desired, but the trading of slaves was prohibited in Washington DC. New territories would have the choice to decide whether to permit slavery or not. This act also required that the North return escaped slaves to their owners. The Kansas-Nebraska Act dealt with the problem of Slavery in new territories. This Act allowed slavery in Nebraska and Kansas. It also provided that when the people of each territory o! rganized as a state, they could decide by popular vote whether to permit slavery to continue. The Dred Scott Decision, where a slave claimed freedom because he had lived in a free state and territory for some time, was denied his freedom. The Supreme Court declared that no black could be a US citizen. The ruling aroused anger in the North and showed that the conflict over slavery was beyond judicial solutions. Another situation was the raid at Harpers Ferry. An abolitionist named John Brown and his followers attempted to start a slave rebellion by seizing the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Va. Brown, however, was captured 28 hours later by troops under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Brown was convicted of treason and hanged two weeks later. Many Southerners saw the raid as evidence of a Northern plot to end slavery by force. During the election of 1860, Lincoln was chosen by the Republicans as their party candidate. The Democrats chose Douglas for their ticket. Lincoln won all electoral votes of every free state except New Jersey, which awarded him four of its seven votes. He thus gained a