Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A New Look at the Civil War

Howard Zinn beleives that a very important aspect of the Civil War that is often times left out of the history books is the conflict between rich and poor.

Fact: the Civil War killed about 600,000 american lives. (an equivalent of about 3 million of today's population). Most of those that died were poor.

The rich could avoid the draft by paying $300, the poor couldn't afford this and were the ones who died in battle.

In the south, only a small minority of people owned slaves, and those that didn't were convinced to think that their lives depended on slavery. For this, the poor men fought for the Confederacy too, while the rich slave owners grew cotton and made profit.

Overall Lincoln demanded unity amongst his army and his society. This unity was merely a front. Working people were attacked by soldiers if they dared to strike against oppressive employers. And those daring to criticize Lincoln's policies would be put in jail without trial. 30,000 prisoners received this fate. Yes, 30,000!!

To give you an idea of how many people that is... In 2006, the Atlanta Braves averaged 31,869/game. (ESPN.com)

To support Zinn, I've done some research and found a link to a rare recollection of 'Bread Rebellions'. The poor southerner was so affected by war they were forced to revolt just to feed themselves. Atlanta, Macon, Columbus, Savannah and Midgeville were all towns in Georgia who were affected. The middle and upper class citizens were 'unaware' that the poor were starving, which emphasizes the split between rich and poor.

Your Assignment:

Read the "Bread Rebellions" in the PDF document below and comment on the division of class that is discussed.

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Anonymous said...

I think the entire starvation era and everything was a direct result of the war. There were no men out working in to gain money for the family and a lot of women had children during this time and were not able to work.
As for the divison between classes, what is there to say. The rich had money to buy food and the poor didnt. I could see if the rich got together and bout food for relief movements but there were way more poor than rich, besides i dont think very many of the rich would have put there money out for complete strangers (look at todays society). The riots started by the poor could have put an even bigger rift between the rich and poor. the rich could view the poor as uncivilized, crazed people and be afraid to greet them on the street. If a rich saw a poor on the street, they might think about giving them money for food, but would most likely thinking of the risk of either getting injured or robbed.
Also the rich might have avoided the poor because of the media (well at that time the press)because it was printing such elaborate lies about the poor, making them seem as if their motive for theievery was not hunger but for the finer things of the rich. If i were one of these poor people of this time i would stay away from the rich for fear that they would have read an article such as this and have me arrested (or beat the crap out of me) on sight. -Thai Cromer

Leonard said...

I think the reason for starvation and rebellion at this time was all because of the Civil war.the wasn't enough money coming into a household and with the inflation going on only the rich would be able to afford food.
There was a division between the rich class and the poor class. this divison was because the way life was going for the poor made it seem like only the rich get to survive. the poor couldn't afford food but the rich sure could the had enough money to buy more food then they needed. the poor on the other hand could bearly buy scraps.
The poor thought the goverment should help but they didn't so the poor decided to riot. during these riots there was alot of stealing and some of stealing was from the rich people. this might of also made the division bigger.
The civil was mostly to blame for the division because it was the rich who had the slaves and the money, it was the rich who wanted to leave the union, and it was the rich that declared war, but it was the poor who had to fight. the rich had the choice to buy their way out of the fight but the poor couldn't.

Ivan said...

I think that the reason that the entire rebellion thing started was because of the rich people and the goverment.
The goverment clearly knew that the people who had money would pay the $300 so that they wouldnt have to go war. As a result the poor people were forced to go to war because they couldnt afford to pay the $300.
Like Thai said I think that the people who had money to give wouldnt because of the media and the lies that they were portraying. Most of the newapapers that published articles about the rebellions would just tell about the luxurious items that were stolen, but they forgot to mention the fact that the majority of the things that were stolen were meat and bread.
I think that the rebellions could have been prevented if the goverment would have provided enough relief, or would have listened to the request and demands for food from the starving.
The goverment knew what their people were going through but had the interest of war, rather than the well being of their people on their minds.

Adonis said...

I think the civil war was a big impact on starvation and rebellion. The poor families worked really hard and most of the time got nothing. The poors probably worked in factories getting low money for long long hours, with very low money. You dont get any food that way. And for those big families it was really hard; mainly for the father, husband figure because they were the ones looked up to when trouble came.
Than the civil war started and it was not fair. The rich people got to pay there ways out of the war by paing a poor person. In our text book it said, "This is a rich man's war and a poor mans fight." I think that makes perfect sense because, To most people the war was over slavery. And who owned the slaves, THE RICH WHITE OWNERS. And who wanted to end it, the white abolitionist that had fair ware fare.
Than the war started and most of the people fought on both the confederates and the yankees were poor people and that makes no sense to me. That was what lead to rebellions through the north and the south. So the poor had to fight starve while the father, husband figure is a way, and they have to rebell because it is to hard.
At the end it was a great lost for the poor because a lot of poor people died. That means the poor little children lost their dad, their wives lost their husbands. It was a really bad time for the poor.

Phuong!! :) said...

As we all know, the Civil War caused alot of expense to all the classes of society during that era; some more than others.
Of course most the men of each household were drafted and asked to take part in the war. So all the manpower of the family were taken away. Who would bring home the money and the food? The government would not consider helping either, and we all know women can be a little psychotic sometimes so that was their solution..
Like we dicussed in class, the Civil War was also poor vs. rich.
The rich people were afraid of the poor people. So they stayed far away. And that made the poor people angrier.
This time period was just chaotic.
No one knew right from wrong.
and the government had their minds set on the war they had no consideration for the lower classes.

Asha♥ said...

I think the whole "poor" stage was mainly occured due to the civil war.

The man of the house was out fighting in the war, and wife was at home talking care of the 7 children the family had and the kids couldn't work. It wasn't untile after the war that little children in the south were able to work in factories and stuff like that. So basically there was no one to take car, provide, or feed the family. And more than likely the man of the house was going to be killed in the war, due to the armies lack of intelligence of taking care of wounds and what not, and or other things.

Of course there was a division between the rich and poor. First of all, the rich didn't care anything for the poor or about the whole war for that matter. They had money and thats all they cared about. Also, maybe from their experiences with poor people on the street, they probobly knew them as beggers and people who steal from the rich all the time. It was said in the media back then and today even in books and movies that that was how it was. But what was the poor to do?

I personaly think the war plaied a very small part in why this division occured. It was bound to happen, and it was kinda sorta always there anyway.

buuuuttt......i have to go now so umm, yeah it was nice writing :)

Chr!st!n@ said...

I believe that this rich versus poor thing was a major problem during the civil war. The government really did not provide or care enough about the people and the people who just had money were better off in life. The poor had to struggle in life to provide for there families needs. Their husbands had to go off to war because they could not afford $300, unlike the rich men who pay the poor to go.
On the other hand, for the division class the rich just had a better start, they did not have to riot. They had money to buy there food and needs. It was not the poor women fault that they had to go out there and steal to get there food for there children.
I believe all this madness with the poor and rich could have been avoided if the government was just fair and seen what was going on instead of focusing more on the war. In addition, about what Thai said I believe that the reason the rich did not help was maybe because they fear the poor or that they were not concern at all.

Jexxa ;) said...

I would have to disagree with Thai about the rich being scared of the poor for rioting. I believe that during these days the rich didnt care about the poor and just cared about their own well being. If they didnt have to go to war it was better for them and they didnt care that other people were dieing for them. I do think that the Civil war had a little bit of impact on the division but i also think that it would be there no matter what. It is there today as well. The rich will always have more opportunities then the poor or middleclass. And during this time the poor riots was caused mainly by the civil war due to less money and what not but the division between them and the rich would be there no matter what.The war just brought the division deeper sooner... it probably wouldnt have escaladed this soon but would have waited until when the south had more industrialization. The war just brought it up sooner, not neccesarily caused it. It was already there to begin with. But the war did cause the riots.

Jaslyn said...

I feel that the reason for the starvation era was due to the lack of concern for the poor. If u look at it, it is sort of like today's society. The rich don't care much for the poor. hey, after all it's not them.
There should have been more concern for the poor. There was not much work for the men to do(if any work at all) and there was still no worry for the people who had to suffer. You would think that there was just a little more concern, since some of the women had children who were also suffering.
The division of the two classes, could it get any worse? It was just flat out wrong the way the upper class degraded the lower class or should i say the poor. I really can't blame the poor for doing what they did to survive. It's obvious that these people were doing everything possible not to starve and to keep their families fom starving so, why not give a helping hand where one is needed.Then, they decided to raise the prices on food. When things were already bad enough
On the flip side, as Thai said, The rich were probably afraid to even approach the poor. Afraid of what might happen if they gave them money for food. They might decide to rob or steal from the rich. But, at the end of it all, It was very selfish of the rich to look down on the poor the way they did. Help could have been given at some point and time.

andrew said...

the US government has a history of messing it up for the poor. basically after the civil war we went through a depression and it made a huge gap between rich and poor. the rich were allowed many more freedoms and were made even richer by the american government. the poor, however were subject to starvation. this lack of compassion by the rich and by the government made the bread riots occur. if they had shown a little compassion and sympathy perhaps this could have all been avoided.

Joe said...

Obviously the the rebellions were a direct result of the Civil War. Most people didn't have a reason to steal or organize in large groups to raid a warehouse for food before their main source of income was lost.
The rich had lots of options. The poor didn't. When you have no options, there's no rift between right and wrong.

*Amy N* said...

I think the rebellion started because the poor was not being able to buy enough food that they needed. While the men were busy fighting in the war, the women and children had to work to support the rest of their family. They were probably really desperate and stressed out about the fact that they were not able to make and afford the things they needed; meanwhile the "upper" class, all they had to do was pay someone to fight for them or pay their way out of fighting in the war. It was a hard time for the poor people; they did not have a choice but to fight the battle.

Chris said...

The rich and the poor will always have a barrier between them, as they do today. They just live two totally different lives with diffferent problems of their own, so they simply run in different circles. The poor rioted because of starvation. If the poor people and the rich people of that time switched places with each other, the outcome would probably be the same. Because if its right or not, people tend to their problems before they worry about a strangers, no matter how serious. And as far as the war, I think it made rebellion and rioting a lot easier to committ, and feel that it was right.

Naveed said...

I also think that the starvation and rebellions were a direct cause of the civil war. The poor were not able to buy enough food to feed their families. Also the men were not there either to obtain any income because they were all being drafted for the war. So the poor had no choice, they organized rebellions and stole food and other necessary items to survive. The rich had enough money and did not have to participate in the war. I also agree and think that if the government provided enough food for the people then the rebellions would never have taken place.

Derrick said...

The Civil War made a deep impact on starvation. It may have been because of the Civil War but at the same time starvation existed before the Civil War; but because the Civil War made this deep impact the starving population grew because the blockade made them lose their the normal access to food and goods as they had before the war. If you think about it the poor are still poor and the rich are still rich before and after the war. Therefore, since the goods were not able to come in as easy, they decided to raise the prices therefore, some of the middle class were not able to afford food anymore, the poor were already just barely getting by which means they can't afford food anymore and the rich were probably the only ones able to get food.
If we really do some thinking it's kind of like the modern situation with gas today. The prices of gas, I know used to at least touch a dollar and change. But now, it's two dollars with gas prices going down. Before 9/11 and the War on Iraq it was much cheaper, but after 9/11 we started to have problems. There were rumors of gas and oil running out all together. Price gauging started, and gas was way above the price it should have been.

~I guess mines was kind of long~

sujal said...

i agree with what leonard said about civil war being he cause of the starvation and the rebellion. the war was very costly because of which the inflation occured. the cost of bread and other important things increased and as a result, the revolution occured. there were also other things that happened like the enemity between the rich and the poor. this also has a lot to do with the war.

John said...

The whole reason for the rebellion is because of the civil war. If there was no war then people would not have to rebell at all, but with the starvation and no men to for in the fields there will be problems with the people which will cause trouble no matter what. Thats what I think.

grace said...

I also agree that civi war was the cause of starvation.

In away it was already their.But the only thing that made it major was the blockade. It effected all socal classes but made it worst for both the poor whites and freeblacks. With the men gone-survival was difficult.
And I know if i had no choice,i will do anything !!!!even if it ment to take something without pay.And that is what most of them did.

~Jasmine~ said...

I think that the poor/ rich problems was a major aftermath of the Civil War. The men weren't really doing anything and they bareley had funds to take care of the entire family.
I also think it was unfair on how the press put out false info about the poor and how they started the riot not because of hunger and famine, but for things that the rich already had.
In addition, just like during the war, the North and South was seperated. As a result, the poor and rich were seperated. Instead of the rich and the government helping feed the hunger, they didn't, causing the riot even worst by the poor stealing from the rich.

Greg said...

All of the starvation was because of the Civil War. The women did not have as many jobs as the men could have and the men were the ones who had to support the family. Since all of the men were in the war the women could not provide for much.
The division of classes happened because the poor class did not have good living conditions. So in the riots people would steal food and money to survive, not because they wanted to.

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