The American Civil War in pictures (part 1), 1861-1865

The Civil War was certainly the most devastating event in American history. More than 600,000 northern and southern people died in the war, a higher number than all those killed in all other American wars combined.

50,000 people died in a single war. The high death toll particularly hurt the South, which had a small population going to war.

Nearly every American lost someone in the war: a friend, relative, brother, son, or father. In fact, the war was so divisive that it completely split some families in two.

For example, a US senator had a son who served as a general in the Union Army and another served as a general for the Union. Even the "Great Savior" Abraham Lincoln had four brothers-in-law who fought for the South.

However, as devastating as the war was, it also brought the states - in the north as well as in the south - closer together. After the war, the United States was virtually united in every sense of the word.

Most obvious, the war ended the debate over slavery that had divided North and South since the drafting of the Constitution in 1787. The states disputed the Missouri, Wilmot Proviso and Mexican Sessions, Texas, California, the fugitive slave law, Dred Scott. v. Sanford, Bleeding Kansas, and John Brown and were still unable to resolve the dispute.

In this sense, the Civil War became inevitable when it became clear that agreements such as the Three-fifths Clause, the Missouri Compromise, and the Compromise of 1850 had little effect.

With each decade, the two regions were further and further separated. However, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 ended the debate for good. Lincoln knew that only when slavery was abolished the debate would end and the Union would be reunited.

The Union victory also ended the debate on states' rights versus federalism. Southerners and Democrats believed that states had the right to abolish the federal government since the Virginia and Kentucky proposals of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison when Congress acted unconstitutionally.

In other words, he believed that the states—the Supreme Court—had the power of judicial review to determine whether Congressional laws were constitutional or unconstitutional.

John C. Calhoun raised this point in his South Carolina Exposition and Protest during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, when he urged his state to abolish Abomination's tariffs.

Whigs and Republicans, on the other hand, generally believed the opposite – that only the Supreme Court had the power of judicial review and that it was the duty of the states to obey the court. The defeat of the South claimed federal power over the states and settled the debate forever.

The civil war was also an important event in world history as the victory of the North proved that democracy works. When war broke out in 1861, many emperors in Europe slyly assumed that the United States was on the verge of collapse. He argued that democracy was too unstable, too messy and too fragile to be of any practical use.

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