From Oppressed Slaves to Champion Soldiers

"They [Black soldiers] will turn and run at the first
sight of the enemy!" (Emilio 10) 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 Northís
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 - 1800ís. 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 1800ís, 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 majority of electoral votes and won
the election. However, Lincoln received less than 40 per
cent of the popular vote, almost none of which came from
the South. Southerners feared Lincoln would restrict or end
slavery. Before the 1860 presidential election, Southern
leaders had urged that the South secede from the Union if
Lincoln should win. Many Southerners