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 Posted: Thu Nov 10th, 2011 02:31 pm
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Texas Defender
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sgtredleg-

   Once again, we are in the realm of: "What ifs," so I'll add some of my views to the excellent response that Mark gave.

   First of all, I certainly wouldn't call Sherman's March: "Total War." While there was sometimes indiscriminate destruction of property that would have pleased the Vandals, there were relatively few crimes committed against people. There were no mass killings like you saw in WW II when the Germans invaded the USSR, or when the Russians reversed the process.

   Aside from killing over 600,000 Americans, what did the Civil War accomplish? Slavery was ended- but as you say, it probably would have ended on its own before the turn of the century. What I would maintain is that in spite of all the fratricide and physical damage done by the war, it resulted in the acceleration of the process of the US becoming a world power, and this in turn had a profound effect on world history in the 20th century.

   Events in Europe such as the Potato Famine and the revolutionary wars in 1848 had begun large scale immingration of Europeans to the US (The vast majority going to the north). This provided a labor force that encouraged a transition to a more widespread manufacturing economy.

  By 1860, this transition was well under way. But the necessity of war sped up the process as the northerners produced a prodigious amount of weapons and equipment to overwhelm the southerners. The new manufacturing economy led to a constant demand for more and more cheap labor, which encouraged more and more immigration. This demand lasted well into the 20th century. The US became a beacon for: "The tired, the poor, and the huddled masses" of Europe. Many millions of Europeans realized that emigrating to the US would provide more opportunities for a good life than they would have in their countries of origin. So, they came in their multitudes.

   My view is that the Civil War, as horrible as it was, resulted in the acceleration of the process of transforming the US into a world power (Which it was by the beginning of the 20th century) and a superpower (Which it was by 1945). I believe that if there had been no Civil War (whether the southern states left or not), this process would have taken longer, and as a result, the history of the 20th century would have been much different. In all probability, it would not now be remembered as the: "American Century."

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