Herman Melville was moved so much by the Civil War that he wrote a volume of sensitive poetry that treated happenings of the war in a quiet, mournful tone. “A Requiem” was the name of his poem about the Battle of Shiloh, since it was written to honor all of the soldiers that died there. Fought in western Tennessee in April 1862, the battle was one of the bloodiest events of the American Civil War. With at least 10,000 deaths of soldiers from each side, Shiloh was a very decisive event. It proved that war would be a long and bitter struggle despite all of the cheering, flag waving, and brave rhetoric of the previous spring.Order now
Just as the revolution before it, the Civil War absorbed the creative energies of the nation. Notable songs, speeches, journals, letters, and memoirs appeared. Many writers became involved with the Civil War, and the leaders of both sides produced some of the most important wartime literature. Walt Whitman, a poet, was a towering literary figure that emerged during the wartime era. There was no public opposition of slavery until the Civil War. Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence described the trading of slaves as a “cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty.
” This quote did not, however, make way into the final document. In a place where slavery was once profitable, the North, slavery had now disappeared. However, in the South slavery became the foundation of the plantation system. With the help of the Compromise of 1850 and the Missouri Compromise in 1820, confrontations were held off between slave states and free states for many years. There were few things that could be done to end the controversy. The South could secede from the Union, which they often threatened, or freedom of slaves, which many in the North demanded. In the 1850’s, the North and South entered on a collision course.
There was a big question that had been raised. “Would the new territories in the West enter the Union as free states or as slave states? ” Walt Whitman saw this conflict as on between “the passions and paradoxes” rather than a “struggle between two distinct and separate peoples” within the United States. It was clear that the North and South had developed on different lines. In the North, the phrase was “commerce is king” rather than the South’s motto “cotton is king. ” The Industrial Revolution and low priced transportation had helped turn the towns and cities of the North into centers of bustling activity.
There were many topics of interest and concern, such as: education, banking, science, and reform movements. Immigration was also changing the face of the North. Large groups of Irish and Germans, among others, were seeking a new life in the United States. Most of these newcomers would settle in the northern states after landing at seaports between Boston and Baltimore. The South, however, was a different place. It was a slower-paced region full of plantations and small farms. Although there were cities, it was defined by its cotton plantations. Rice, sugar, and tobacco were other important crops.
Technological progress had little effect on the South, with its hotly debated social issues and problems. One issue that made a large impression was slavery. The South believed that the need the “peculiar institution” of slavery in order to prosper. Statesmen might make tactical compromises on such matters as free states or slave states being carved from the new territories, but there could be no compromise on slavery’s legality. The northerners on the other side of the issue were just as adamant. William Lloyd Garrison published The Liberator, which was an abolitionist weekly. It demanded the immediate, uncompensated freedom for all slaves.
His first issue proclaimed: “I am in earnest-I will not equivocate-I will not excuse-I will not retreat a single inch-and I will be heard. ” There were few people in the antislavery movement that were as extreme as Garrison. Their basic goal was unacceptable to most southerners. In 1860, the controversy between the North and the South came to a head. That was the year that Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in a bitter four-way race. Lincoln was once quoted as saying, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. ” The nation “paradoxes and passions” that Whitman observed could no longer be contained by compromise.