The Civil War, Part I: Crash Course US History #20

Hi I’m John Green this is Crash Course US
History and today we come at last to the Civil War, the conflict that in many ways created
a nation. So here’s what you won’t be getting today.
We will not be describing battles and tactics. If that’s your bag, might I suggest Ken
Burns or if you prefer books, like 1000 authors, my favorites being James McPherson and Shelby
Foote. And 2. We won’t be bashing and/or praising
Abraham Lincoln very much, although we do have multiple Lincolns here because we’ve
heard that’s good for ratings. I mean, to watch or read certain accounts,
you would think that the Civil War was a lengthy chess game played by Abraham Lincoln against
his cunning opponent Abraham Lincoln, but of course there were other people involved.
We are going to quote a fair bit of Lincoln, though, because, you know, that won Tony Kushner
an Academy Award nomination. 3. We won’t be claiming that the Civil War
was somehow secretly about something other than slavery, because that is just so early
20th century. And 4. There will not be a lot of jokes today
because hahaha 700,000 people died. Mr. Green, actually only 680,000 people died.
Yeah, it depends on how you count, you snivelling little ghoul. But recent estimates are between
680,000 and 800,000 total casualties. Deadlier for Americans than the American Revolution,
World War I, World War II, and Vietnam combined. intro
So let’s start with some basic facts about the American Civil War. 1861 to 1865, which
corresponded with the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The Union, or more colloquially the
North, fought against the forces of the Confederate States of America, or the South.
Sometimes people call the Union ‘the blue” and the confederates “the gray,” but in
fact the uniforms weren’t very uniform, they were all different kinds of color. And
also, with all that dirt and blood, they were all just brown. Alright, let’s go to the
Thought Bubble. You’ll notice from this map that not all
the states that held slaves were part of the Confederacy. The border states of Kentucky,
Missouri, Delaware and Maryland allowed slavery and never left the United States. All of these
border states were critical to the Union–Maryland was north of the nation’s capitol in Washington
D.C.; Kentucky controlled the Ohio River; Missouri was the gateway to the West; Delaware
actually wasn’t that important. So none of that should be particularly controversial,
unless you’re from Delaware, but the causes of the war, that’s another story. The Civil
War was about slavery–actual historians will back me up on this, like David Goldfield,
who wrote, “Both Northerners and Southerners recognized slavery as the immediate cause
of the Civil War.” Also, Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, “One eighth
of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union,
but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful
interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.”
That said, in comments lots of people will be like, the war was about agriculture versus
industry, or the states’ rights to protect themselves from the tyranny of a big federal
government, but if it were REALLY about that, the Civil War would’ve started during the
Nullification crisis in the 1830s, when–as I’m sure you’ll remember–Andrew Jackson
said that South Carolina couldn’t declare a federal tariff null in their state. Why
didn’t that cause a Civil War? The Confederate government passed the first
conscription act in American history, implemented national taxes, created a national currency,
and had a government bureaucracy of about 70,000 people, more than the federal bureaucracy
in Washington D.C. Thanks, Thought Bubble. That said, in the
beginning of the war, Lincoln deliberately tried to downplay the slavery angle, arguing
that the war was only about preserving “the Union.”
But the war was also about religion, for both sides. As David Goldfield put it, “In protecting
the Revolutionary ideals, northerners would preserve God’s plan to extend democracy
and Christianity across an unbroken continent and around the world. Southerners welcomed
a war to create a nation more perfect in its fealty to God than the one they had left.”
But it’s also important to remember that regular soldiers often had more prosaic reasons
for going off to fight, as you will eventually learn when you are forced to read The Red
Badge of Courage, Goldfield tells the story of one Alabamian
who enlisted only after his girlfriend mailed him a dress and told him he should start wearing
if he wasn’t willing to go fight. And for Northerners, Union, religion and an
end to slavery mixed together to form a potent rationale for war. It’s summed up nicely
by Julia Ward Howe’s words to the song that would become famous as the Battle Hymn of
the Republic: “As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” You thought
I was going to sing, but you were wrong. So spoiler alert the Union won the war, which
in a sense was unsurprising, because they had massive advantages:
For starters, they had many more people, approximately 22 million as compared to 9 million in the
South, of whom 3.5 million were slaves and therefore unlikely to be sympathetic to the
Southern cause. Also, the north manufactured more than 90%
of all goods in America; its factories turned out 17 times more textiles than the South,
30 times more shoes and boots, 13 times more iron, and 32 times more firearms.
Plus, at the outbreak of the war the North had twenty thousand miles of railroad compared
with the South’s ten thousand. This made it easier for the Union to move
its army, which over the course of the war enlisted more than 2 million men, compared
with 900,000 for the Confederacy. Even northern agriculture was also more productive,
taking greater advantage of mechanization than southern farmers did.
Really the only advantage the south had was better leaders, like most of the tactically
famous generals of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J. E. B. Stewart,
etc., were Southerners. And also, by the way, they all had great last words.
Lee said “Strike the tent,” Stonewall Jackson said “Let us cross over the river
and rest under the shade of those trees,” and JEB Stuart after being mortally wounded
in battle said to his close friend and lieutenant, “Honey-bun, how do I look in the face?”
Famous Union general Ulysses Grant’s last word was “Water,” which isn’t near so
good, but he said that last word after having survived the war and getting to be, like,
President of the United States and stuff. Right but anyway, this all raises an interesting
question: Was the result of the war a foregone conclusion?
The Confederacy had to create a nation from scratch and build national unity among people
who were committed to the autonomy of their individual home states. So that’s a problem.
And, then there was the issue of overcoming class conflicts, especially when the ruling
class was often exempted from actually fighting in the war.
But when you put aside all that nation-building stuff and just focus on the actual fighting
of the war, the question of the union’s inevitable win becomes much trickier.
Some have argued that all the Confederacy really to do was outlast the Northern efforts
to bring them back into the Union, like Washington had to do against the British.
And the idea was that the war of attrition would eventually wear down northern resolve.
But, there were two problems with this theory. First, the North had such superiority in its
resources that it would take a long time to wear down.
Secondly, fighting a war of attrition would be costly to the South, as well and their
resources would be depleted long before the North’s.
Oh it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. Woah! That was intense.
I try to identify the author of the Mystery Document. If I am right, I do not get shocked,
but I’m never right because Stan makes it too hard. Alright, let’s see what we’ve
got today. “I therefore determined, first, to use the
greatest number of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy, preventing him
from using the same force at different seasons [and] second, to hammer continuously against
the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition … there should be
nothing left to him but submission.” [1] Okay so the strategy of attrition was a Confederate
strategy. But, Stan is a jerk. But it talks about the enemy AND HIS RESOURCES,
which was kind of a Union focus. And more importantly, it talks about preventing him
from using the same force at different seasons. That makes me think it is a Union general.
Final answer Ulysses S. Grant. OH HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES.
Grant was different from previous Union generals in that he was willing to sustain enormous
casualties in pursuit of his goal to wear down the South.
Because of this, Grant was branded a butcher, like he was willing to weather incredible
losses including the 52,000 men — 41% of his army — who were injured or killed at
the battles of the Wilderness and Cold Harbor. But his grim determination not just to defeat
but to destroy his opponent is what made Grant one of the first truly modern generals and
also the most successful leader the Union found.
So, Grant’s brutal strategy coupled with the vast superiority in Northern resources
suggests that the outcome of the Civil war really was inevitable, but it also points
to some of the reasons to be cautious about that conclusion.
First off, it took three years before the Union actually fully adopted Grant’s strategy,
and between 1861 and 1864 it was possible that Southern victories would eventually force
the Union to give in. I mean, the Union lost a lot of battles in
the first two years, largely due to ineffective General-ing and nothing saps a nation’s
motivation for war like losing. Now, some argue that the North had superior
motivation to prosecute the war because they had God on their side and they were against
slavery, but that’s also pretty problematic. I mean, for many men who joined the federal
army, a war to end slavery had very little appeal, especially poor enlistees who might
be afraid that newly-freed slaves would compete with them for jobs.
Also, while we are correct in considering slavery unjust, southerners who took up arms
for the Confederacy saw themselves as engaged in a fight for their own freedom, rather than
a fight to protect slavery. The truth is, when it comes to fighting, motivation
is a very tricky business, and I’m most comfortable agreeing with James McPherson
who argued that motivation waxes and wanes with victory, and that the outcome of the
war was contingent on a number of turning points.
And we’re just gonna discuss two of the most important: July 1863 and August 1864.
July 1863 saw two of the most important Union victories in the whole war. In the western
theater, General Grant laid siege to and captured Vicksburg Mississippi, thus giving the federals
control of the lower Mississippi river. I mean, by then, the North already had New
Orleans, which made it pretty much impossible for the Confederates to ship cotton or anything
else along the Mississippi River. After that, Grant was able to turn his attention
to the east with the aforementioned hammering of the enemy and their resources.
More famously, especially in the eastern part of the United States, the first three days
of July 1863 saw the battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
This was General Lee’s furthest major offensive in the north and had he won the battle it
is likely that panic would have set in in places like Philadelphia and maybe even New
York. Actually panic did overcome New York in draft
riots that killed more than 100 people and only ended after troops from Gettysburg were
called in. I’m not going to go into detail about either
of these battles, but they shifted the tide of the war in favor of the North, although
not enough to bring the war to a quick end. Confederate forces would never again threaten
a northern city. August 1864 saw another turning point that really spelled the doom of the
Confederacy, and that was when Union general Sherman took Atlanta. Atlanta was a railroad
hub and manufacturing center but its capture was more significant politically than militarily
because it happened close to the election of 1864.
And that American election was really the last time that the Confederate states of America
could have won the Civil War. It’s easy to forget this, but Lincoln actually
had to run for reelection during the Civil War, and by the summer of 1864 the war was
pretty unpopular and it looked like Lincoln might lose.
The capture of Atlanta changed public opinion about Lincoln and meant it that his Democratic
opponent and former top general George McClellan didn’t stand a chance of winning, which
was really significant for the war because Lincoln was committed to ending it with a
Union victory and McClellan, meh. I think it says a lot about American history
that in the end the war’s outcome was insured not just by military victories but by a political
one. Next week, we’ll examine the effects of
the Civil War and the enduring questions that have arisen out of it, such as who, exactly,
freed the slaves? But, until then, thanks for watching.
Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. The script supervisor is Meredith
Danko. Our show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and myself.
Our graphics team is Thought Café. And our associate producer is Danica Johnson, also
responsible for felt Abraham Lincoln. If you want to suggest captions for the libertage,
you can do so in comments where you can also ask questions about today’s video that will
be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we
say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome.

  1. The biggest lie: John Green: i usually get these right. LIES I ONLY SAW U GET SHOCKED ONCE AND I HAVE WATCHED YOU FOR ALMOST A YEARRRR love your channel btw
    and yes i know this comment is late

  2. Lincoln said it was at first to preserve the Union, although one could argue the reason to preserve the union is slavery.

  3. The south having better military leaders is only true if you only look in the eastern theater in the first half of the war.

  4. Many people don’t know that Abraham Lincoln was actually against giving former slaves equal rights. And actually wanted to deport them to Liberia

  5. You were wrong that is not what the Civil War is about It’s about if the federalist or The state that’s what it was really about

  6. so this isn't about history but did anyone notice the little easter egg at 4:53 with the little kodama in the background ??

  7. African Countries: Still practicing slavery in 2019!
    White Americans: Still blamed for slavery in 2019!

  8. "If it were really about that it would have started in the 1830"
    – actually several laws were already ending slavery starting at the first continental Congress [1794]. Then 1797, 1800, 1803. Your should read how strict the punishments were. New slaves weren't allowed. (African only, you could still abuse plenty of Irish and Scottish but most died. Your claim is actually cited as proof upwards of 1M people died for no reason but for to bring the nation under debt of the Rothschild banking system. (1M includes injuries from raids on civilians and slaves)
    As Lincoln stated in multiple speeches it was about preserving the union.
    South Carolina declared Independence December 20, 1860. "And your arguement that it would have begun earlier if it wasn't about slavery"
    General Freemont liberated Missouri slaves in 1862 and Lincoln sent them back to their masters. It was later that year John Stuart Mill discussed keeping Europe away based on the "slavery component". Remember Irish and Scots knew slavery as well.
    -You're wrong about the railroads. The south alone had more railroads than any nation on earth, nextrunner up being Russia. This was a time before standard gauges and the industrialists who pushed for war would bring about the corporations which began the oppression of a new type of slavery….wage-slavery.
    France wanted to help the confederacy. Mexico wanted the opposite of anything Europeans wanted. Russia actually put its navy off Boston and San Francisco to ward off Rothschild influencers on the young republic.
    The War of 1812 was Rothschild ordered to punish the United States for voting against the renewal of a central bank. US won the war and Nathan passed away.
    “Either the application for renewal of the charter is granted, or the United States will find itself involved in a most disastrous war.” – Nathan MayerRothschild
    “Teach those impudent Americans a lesson. Bring them back to colonial status.”
    His son [Lionel] took parliament in 1858. They backed 'the northern trust' who put Lincoln in the whitehouse.
    Remember, the war started at ft sumpter as an embargo. It was about money, not morals.
    Mary Todd's family owned slaves.

  9. I was telling my history teacher that I've had other history teachers that say the cause of Civil War was slavery or other things caused it. The way I see it was multiple of other reasons why we has the Civil War the main point is to know that Slavery is why we had the Civil War. If anyone wants to comment on this and tell me what else caused the Civil War feel free to comment.

  10. My brother liked over my shoulder halfway through the video and asked why there are so many Abraham Lincolns, and I told him that it's good for ratings 🙂

  11. Thousands of dirt poor southerners risk their lives so a handful of rich people could have free labor. It is lies like this that keeps racism alive. Thousands of dirt poor southerners fought because they did not want any part of the federal government, most were against slavery themselves they were fighting for freedom from the tyranny they knew being part of the federal government would bring. The North made it about slavery to give a cause other than what it was this is how war works ( PROPAGANDA ) The war was about having all States under one rule and nothing else. Lincoln wrote in a letter himself that if he could do it without freeing one slave he would and that letter still exists today. The civil war was about federal rule and nothing else stop telling lies about the only people who wanted and fought for slavery were rich plantation owners. But thanks for spreading the lie and giving a reason to hate innocent people who are long dead who only fought for their own freedom and keeping racism alive and well.

  12. If the civil war was about slavery then why didn't Lincoln free all the slaves instead of just the confederate state's slaves?
    Seems like it wasn't about slavery if they didn't try freeing all of them at the same time.. Why'd he allow slave codes against freed slaves if it was about justice and equality?
    It's like you're reading the empire's history book without applying any critical thought to it..

  13. ==The Real Reason Behind The Civil War==

    In 1775, the Revolution began in Massachusetts. When the Northerners united in pushing for Independence from Britain, they were surprised how fast the slave-owning Southerners joined them. What was kept secret was how the rich Southern plantation owners owed million$ to London banks and how London markets took 40% of the profits from their cotton and tobacco exports. A successful rebellion meant they wouldn't have to pay back these debts and they'd have full control of their markets.

    Fast-forward to their grandsons in 1860. Lincoln's election produced an instant call for secession from the slave-owning Southerners. What was kept secret was how the rich Southern plantation owners owed a billion dollar$ to New York City banks and how NYC markets took 40% of the profits from their cotton and tobacco production. A successful rebellion meant they wouldn't have to pay back these debts and they'd have full control of their markets.

  14. You fought for your folks but you didn’t die in vain. Even though you lost they speak highly of your name, cause you fought all the way Johnny reb Johnny reb. You fought all the way

  15. the end of slavery came about because of free market capitalism and industrialization. lol I cant believe im one of those… but its true. when do humans just do things because we have morals? wtf please. the whole westward expansion thing what do you call that? I think we said it was our god given right to expand and kill the natives. we are savages but we are the winners and writers of history. the winners just put a positive spin and take control of the narrative and say it was mainly about slavery. a lot of smart people are influenced by these "societal inputs" or biases as you guys call them. if you are a real teacher you should be able to point out other instances in the studies of humanities or other social sciences where this keeps happening. I mean ill look into it but it just keeps repeating itself. these are some critiques and observations I make for a book im writing. if you find this interesting please consider following me on facebook lol the truth is slavery was just not economically beneficial to the markets and expansion of industrialization and eventually globalization. think about it. the end of slavery only came about because of market progress not human morals. history is much more perverse. I seek to expose these truths but I don't choose a side I only seek to make you guys aware of whats really going on. I am not saying that what he is stating is not factual but it is only one side of the story and the main radiating force behind the end of slavery.

  16. All you need to know: it had nothing to do with slavery, it was the event international Jews used to firmly take control of the United States and create the ravenous monster known as DC.

    As the war criminals of the north swept through the south Jews followed like a plague of locusts. Several Union generals literally banned Jews from the areas they had invaded.

    That was how Jews took control of virtually every southern industry.

  17. Uhh so I watched all of the CrashCourse US History videos and not only passed my class but raised my grade from a low C to a high B?!! College is a scam, YouTube can teach you anything you ever need to know?! Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.

  18. I'm playing this in the backround hoping my subconscious will absorb this and spit it out by the exam

  19. Didn't really expect it, but this is quite well done for a 12-minute synopsis. Covered a lot of ground and raised many key highlights and influences. Damn good explanation of how the Confederacy could have possibly won the war, I've always agreed with this concept. So many (even some prominent historians) spout the opinion that the South had no path to victory, which if you have spent much time studying the Civil War, you should know that the political climate combined with the public's weariness of war made conditions ripe for a conclusion and negotiated settlement, which Lincoln truly could have become powerless to affect. Never heard the McPherson quote before. Dead on.

  20. I hardly understood what he said probably because I'm not American (not British either but you can guess where) and he talks really fast but I needed to learn this for slave trading… I always wondered what the turning point was to become more civilised like we are now, I heard of the war between the Americas but didn't know why… at the beging if the video I put 2 and 2 together and had my "AH HA!" moment. Dang why didn't they teach us this earlier! I've been wondering this for 3 years and I'm in grade 7.

  21. Okay the fact that you think the Civil War was founded over slavery primarily astounds me. Tell me exactly what happened during the Battle of Fort Sumter and why it happened? Then I want you to explain to me why Jefferson Davis was never convicted of any war crimes. Then you need to State the real reason why Southern Farmers didn't have the mechanical advantages, because the north would not sell them the Machinery or tools. So the South would not give them cotton or tobacco and people like clothes on their back and nicotine. There's a lot more ways we can go into this but Lincoln really did not give two turds about freeing the slaves that's why he did it in the middle of the Civil War and not the day the Civil War was declared.

  22. The Northern strategy of attrition was necessary because the weapons of the time, especially rifles and long range artillery, gave the tactical advantage to the defense. It was very difficult to get a crushing Napoleonic victory in the 1860s, although both sides tried a bunch of times.

  23. You are leaving out Antietam in 1862 which I argue is the true turning point of the war. Before then, it was at least feasible for the great European powers to recognize the CSA. After Antietam and the Emancipation Proclaimation, it became politically impossible for the rabidly anti-slavery English and French to take the Southern side.

  24. In the USA Constitution, there are two sections which combined to give terrorists(slavers) a "welfare benefit" of excessive representation in the USA national government. This governmental "free stuff" allowed USA terrorists to dominate the USA national government until around 1850-1860.
    The abolition movement and the prohibition of slaver terrorism in the new territories severely reduced the "free stuff" to which the terrorists had become so accustomed. The slaver terrorists' "feelings" were very hurt. The "welfare queen" terrorists "felt" compelled to make a lame attempt at forming a separate country based solely on terrorism, The csa.
    The USA civil war was caused by a gang of "butthurt" terrorist slaver "welfare queens". And, those terrorists and their defenders were/are all "conservatives".

  25. Shout out to Crash Course and John Greene for doing my American History 1 professor's job for her. She has a doctorate yet makes us watch these instead of hear her lecture. And we're ok with that and so is she.

  26. 600k dead? Pah we in mother russia – the largest country – like things BIG! Like a civil war with 20 milion dead tovarishchi and belyye predateli.

  27. Fun Fact: Lincoln was offered Elephants to fight in the war from the Kingdom of Siam but he refused them.

  28. Shelby foote? Really? You're going to take history advice which is supposed to be as non biased as possible from someone who has said he would still fight in a civil war today? Epitome of a lost cause historian.

  29. In a single episode you covered more than three years of US history courses in my jr high and high school time…. maybe it's just a western thing, but the entire study of the civil war was "it happened because the south wanted to keep its slaves. the north won" and then we move on to The New Deal.

  30. When you have to come out and say "Let's not act like the civil war was about anything other than slavery." You are clearly saying "There's a whole bunch more to the story than just freeing slaves……." And there certainly is.

  31. At 4:26 he says the Union won the war while showing a picture with 3 inverted stars at the top of the tent. Why would satanic symbolism be displayed? For the same reason the Supreme Court in Israel has all of the illuminati architecture in it.

  32. Yes, Lincoln's 'campaign for re-election' was during the Civil War; but I've heard that America's (our … but talking about us in the third-person makes us sound 'international' LOL) Presidential election-cycle wasn't the year-long circus that recent broadcasting-tech has made it into. Is that right?

  33. Although I agree your explanation of why the north won…the war was NOT about slavery. It was about money. The south had basically paid off the cost of the revolution and were then facing higher tariffs put in place by Lincoln. That's why they hit fort sumpter first…it was a tax collection base. The civil war was also called "the war if northern aggression" for a reason. Just remember that the winner gets to write the history books!

  34. This one kind of sucks. The typical social media video of the speaker cutting in and out from themselves because they cannot speak eloquently for more than 13 seconds at a time while trying way to hard to be witty and sarcastic and ultimately leaving you feeling less knowledgeable than you were before you started the video.

  35. Funnily enough, if Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated he likely would’ve started a program to ship all black people back to Africa.

  36. I type in Crash Course Civil War and what is 4 scrolls down, this vid. Why not at the top? Do you guys have your tags set up properly?

  37. Just to let you know Mr. Green, you are by far the most idiotic yankee I've ever seen. I've never heard so much rubbish come out of someone's mouth before. I'm surprised that you are not in a mental hospital for thinking that the American Civil War was about slavery. You and your yankee lies disgust me. For your information, the American Civil War was about states rights. Kentucky, the state I was born and raised in was not a border state by the way. The Confederacy accepted Kentucky as their thirteenth state on December the tenth, eighteen sixty-one. Good day to you sir.

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