Post-Civil War Political, Economic, Social Changes


Ford & Carin (2004) argue that American history has been defined by two historical events; the Revolution of 1776 to 1783 and the Civil War of 1861 to 1865. The Revolution created the United States as a sovereign nation. On the other hand, the Civil war determined the independence or the Union for the Confederacy (Gallagher & Gary, 2003). The Civil War took about four years, three weeks and six days and lost over six hundred and twenty-five thousand lives.

The main cause of the Civil War was the conflict between the Free states, and the slave states (Kingseed &Cole, 2004). The states sought to prohibit slavery that existed in some territories and were not being considered as states. Some slave states in the South seceded, and they formed a new nation. The secession became the cause of the Civil War because the Northern States, which were considered as Free states did not recognize the legitimacy of the newly formed state. The Civil War had major impacts and changes in America. These changes were political, economic, as well as, social changes.

The Changes

One of the major impacts of the Civil War was the banning of slavery in the U.S. (Kingseed & Cole, 2004). Before the war, the Black Americans were considered as slaves by their White counterparts. This was a major cause of the secession of the southern states as they sought for freedom and confederacy. During the war, many slaves fled to their freedom. After the war, in January 1865, the thirteenth amendment was passed and implemented.

The law abolished slavery in the U.S. and the success in amendment and implementation of the law brought freedom to over four million African American slaves. Most of the people who were considered slaves stopped working for the whites. We cannot ignore the fact that most of the people who the slaves were working for suffered great losses because they would no longer get access to cheap labour. As a matter of fact, they were against the liberalization and fleeing of the African slaves. The second change was that the Civil War opened its citizenship to any person who was born in the U.S irrespective of the race.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the US constitution that was ratified in 1868, addressed the citizenship rights and protection of the laws (Ford & Carin, 2004). In addition, the African slaves who lived in the U.S by then were able to get the American citizenship. More than four million former slaves acquired their citizenship. Gallagher & Gary (2003) reiterate that the amendment ensured that one would become an American citizen by birth or naturalization.

It also ensured that such kind of citizens would enjoy some rights and freedoms that they did not enjoy before the Civil War. Such freedoms and rights include freedom to migrate and rights to own property. Some people protested the fact that both the Whites and the blacks would enjoy equal rights and freedoms. That notwithstanding, the amendment still stood and has taken its ground up to date.

Another change was that the Civil War ensured that the Women’s rights movements gained momentum (Gallagher & Gary, 2003). The movements gained more strength, as well as, acceptance in the American society. The Feminist movements advocated for the rights of women. Before the Civil war, a woman had no right to hold any office, own property, vote and earn among other rights and freedoms. A woman had no access to higher education, but all this changed after the Civil War.

Sexual discrimination drastically dropped, and women started getting recognition. The women got their rights and freedom without any gender discrimination. These included higher education, employment, public offices and the right to own properties among other freedom and rights (Ford & Carin, 2004). It can be noted that many women entered different professions, especially the medical professions.

Lastly, America experienced major changes in its economy after the war (Ford & Carin, 2004). The country moved from an agrarian based economy to an industrial based economy. In essence, cotton farming lost its prominence in the economy. Kingseed & Cole (2004) argue that the slaves who were working in the farms had become liberated; therefore there was a drastic drop in the labour force in farms. In addition, the banking system and national currency were established during the war.

This changed the American economy to date. The households started stabilizing financially, thanks to the major changes that took place during the Civil War (Gallagher & Gary, 2004). The Civil War led to the collapsing of the southern economy after the abolishment of the slave trade. Lastly, many people joined the trade unions and their influence greatly increased. This helped the workers to fight for their rights. In essence, the workers got their rights as well as enjoy some privileges. Some of these included better working conditions, higher terms of payment as well better delegations in the management (Kingseed & Cole, 2004).


The adverse effects of the Civil War cannot be ignored any time the American history is in discussion. It was a war that not only brought more deaths than any other war, but it also defined the present American society and systems. The reconstruction of America after the war gave the Americans their current rights and freedoms. The greatest achievements of the Civil war were the abolishment of the slavery, as well as, giving of equal rights to all American citizens.

Works Cited

Ford, Carin T. The American Civil War: An Overview. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2004. Print.

Gallagher, Gary E. The American Civil War. Oxford: Osprey Publ, 2003. Print.

Kingseed, Cole C. The American Civil War. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2004. Print.

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