American History

American History: Economic Impacts of the Civil War


American civil war was fought during 1861 -1865. The issue igniting this confrontation surrounded slavery conditions associated with its extension beyond the agreed period. United States of America and several of the Southern States were engaged in this furious bloody contention. There was no foreign involvement. However, after four years of fatal battles taking the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers; destruction of many valuable Southern states infrastructure and collapse of the Confederacy; slavery in print was legally abolished in United States of America and the impacts of these encounters still live on in the country’s economic culture (Schecter, 2007).                

Impact of the civil war on Industrialization

In analyzing the aftermath of American civil war many historians have described its significance as being characteristic of an industrial war and one of the earliest in world history. It encompassed utilization and destruction of infrastructure such as telegraphs systems, railroads, steamships and extensive production of many destructive weapons. Due to the massive demolishing of infrastructure during the war and reconstruction in the aftermath it could be concluded that this forged acceleration of industrialization in the American society (Schecter, 2007).

Importantly, telegraph systems were replaced by more sophisticated communication devices such as telephones. While railroads were not abolished refined subways emerged; motor operated engines quickly replaced steam as a direct impact of the American civil war. War ammunition was no longer limited to short range guns, but converged into mechanisms targeting the enemy from a distance. This signaled moving from hand operated machinery to ones which  required manual labor before the war (Huddlest, 2002).

        When the movement from farm labor to factory work is considered after the American civil war historians are still undecided regarding the true positive impacts this aspect of industrialization in the society. For example, the war abolished slavery. There was no longer accessible cheap labor. Farmers had to pay more for production of the same commodities revolutionizing the workforce to accommodate factory trained employees. Consequently, while the war did force the necessary industrial advancement economically production costs escalated (Huddlest, 2002).


Evaluation of economic impacts in the North and South:-

The South focused on improving the image mainly of blacks and reducing slavery. As such, the economic impacts could be considered more severe than the North where slavery had almost faded away and attempts to reduce it was not highlighted. Definitely, since more Southern States were involved in the war most of their infrastructure was destroyed. The states which suffered  greatly were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana (Huddlest, 2002).

Precisely, the overall debt incurred amounted to $65 million. Historians posit that northern states controlled the Federal government during and after the war. Southern states had no voice in the democratic process since the majority was inhabited by slaves and poor whites. North winning the war secured their control over the south and thereby further hindering economic progress in those parts of the country continued. As such, rebuilding economically had its severe impacts, because Republicans ruled who were in opposition to the abolition of slavery. A long period of socio-economic injustices squealed the war in the South populated by blacks. Therefore, the economic impacts in the north were minimal or non-existent compared to the south (Schecter, 2007).


Huddlest, J. (2002). Killing Ground: The Civil War and the Changing American Landscape. New York. John Hopkins University Press

Schecter, B. (2007). The Devil’s Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America. New York. Walker and Company.