The Demise Of The Confederacy Essay, Research Paper
Since the end of the American Civil War, historians have theorized and argued why the Confederacy did not become victorious, or maybe why the Union did. Three such examples are the essays of Richard N. Current, David Donald and James McPherson. These three essays prove that history is not an exact science and that three different men are entitled to three different theories and although not one or the other is necessarily right or wrong, there are ones that, on the surface at least, tend to give better arguments.
The essay by Richard Current seems to be the most objective paper of the three. He gives possible reasons why the South lost, and either backs it up, points out the faults, or leaves it up to the reader to decide. For example, he opens his article giving statistics to the overwhelming advantage the North appeared to have economically coming in to the war. He also shows that perhaps a contributing factor was poor leadership on behalf of the Confederate government. He gives examples of Davis doing things like failing to export cotton in grand loads and other economic decisions that in retrospect, seems nearly insane. After all this though, Current points out that yes, the leadership seems reckless in hindsight, but during the war, they seemed to be very legitimate actions in order to win the war. Davis goal wasn t to destroy the southern economy, but instead to devastate the North. The south also knew that with the help of England and/or France, the present disadvantages would be evenly weighed out and the tide of the war could change considerably. The idea was that if the South withheld cotton from the North, the northern textile mills would have nothing to export in order to trade with Europe. So, if Europe couldn t get the cotton from the North, they would have to get it from the South, meaning having to get through the Union naval blockade which meant interfering in the war on behalf of the Confederacy. In this new light, it seems harsh to call the Confederate leadership crazy, but the fact the fact that they made poor decisions is apparent. I believe Current went out of the way describing the leadership of the South to come back to his original point: the South would have almost needed a miracle (or at least a stroke of luck) to win the war, and she didn t get it. Her economic situation ultimately destroyed her, both directly and indirectly.
David Donald s main theory came from a different angle than that of Current s. Just like both Current and McPherson do, Donald explains the seemingly desperate situation on behalf of the Confederacy coming into the war. He comes from this to explain the strong democratic views of the Americans, and especially Southerner s at this time. He goes on to explain that Southerner s were so adamant in their freedom of choice that they insisted that even the commanding officers of the Confederate army be voted in by an election held by its own enlists . Donald goes on to explain that throughout the war, Davis sticks to democratic ideals at all costs. There is no temporary ban of the press, nor does he introduce martial law at the drop of a hat that most democratic leaders have been shown to do at times of war. This marriage to the democratic system is admirable indeed, but as Donald shows, it just cannot be done in times of war. People are led astray from important aspects of the war too easily. Morale is lost too fast and armies are unstable with the fact that unpopular officer s were disposed of frequently. Democracy is worth fighting for, but not necessarily with.
James McPherson s essay, Why the Confederacy Lost, starts out nearly the same way that both Current s and Donald s did. He explains the advantages the North had and rightly the disadvantages the South had. Hidden in between what seems to be the outcome of the war, and not the cause of the end of it, I believe McPherson s point was that the North winning the war was inevitable. Not because of her wealth and power, but because of her ideals. The Unions goal was to keep the Union together and strong. Fighting against the evil s of slavery and keeping democracy alive. He makes a very vivid point that without the Civil War, the United States of America would be nothing it is today.
In conclusion, all three authors had very good points. The historian that made the biggest impact on me was Richard Current. His arguments were all backed up and his way of presenting an idea and then giving the facts, allowing the reader to reach conclusions were impressive. Also, his seems to be the less romantic and possibly most realistic of the three points. All three mentioned it, and the facts were bewildering, the North had won the war before it even started.