Who won America’s Civil War?

The North, obviously, most would answer, and from a military point of view, that is obviously correct. When we look at the issue of race relations, however, an entirely different answer is agreed on by post-war historians, that the South won the ideological war. The failure of Reconstruction, in fact, led America into government and culture dominated by racism for another 100 years following the Civil War.

The two goals of Reconstruction were to reunite the nation and provide racial equality in the South. For a time, the second goal was achieved, as Radical Republicans from the North dominated a government where the southern states had limited representation. In the late 1860s African Americans had the right to vote, and Blacks were elected to state legislatures and other important positions of power. The former leaders of the South, however, became increasingly angry at what they regarded as the ultimate injustice of African Americans achieving equality as a result of the Civil War. They gradually fought and schemed their way back into power, creating such racist political control structures as the Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws to reinstall racist government with everything but slavery. Southerners praised the attack when one of their legislators caned Radical Republican Senator Charles Sumner, causing him serious head injuries that took months to recuperate from. Opinion in the North, unfortunately, compromised with the South in the years after the war, and racism took the helm nationwide until the true beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in 1954 with the Supreme Court Case Brown vs. The Board of Education, which began the end of racial segregation in America’s public schools.

The legacy of chattel slavery, unfortunately for America, was very deep, for this was the most cruel form of slavery in human history. A slave was considered a piece of property with no human rights. Such an economic system led to deep seated prejudices that took far more than a Civil War to overcome.

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