Slavery Carolina lead the charge on leaving

Slavery was a crucial issue in America during the early years of its existence. It was not included in the Constitution and caused a deep sectional divide between the North and South. The debate on slavery would eventually lead to the bloodiest conflict America has been involved in, the Civil War. South Carolina lead the charge on leaving the Union in 1860. In South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession, they quote the Declaration of Independence saying “… right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES”. South Carolina government took these words and used it as their main force for leaving the Union. They did not want the federal government involved in state matters. Quickly following South Carolina, many Southern states left the Union on the same grounds. Only a month after South Carolina had seceded, Georgia decided to do the same. They realized that the Union was heading towards a major conflict and left to save slavery in their state since it was a major industry. In their Declaration of Secession it states “This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation … placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war” (United States Congress). The issue of slavery had been dividing Georgia, and the rest of the country, for a long time, Georgia believed that in order to save their citizens, they should secede. One week later, Louisiana also seceded, and this came as a surprise to most of the country. Louisiana had not always agreed with their fellow Southern states, they did not support the South Carolina “fire-eaters”, many Louisiana Whigs did not enjoy the idea of small government, they wanted to have a large national presence in their state. However, slavery was still prevalent in Louisiana and made the state most of its revenue. Louisiana left the Union on January 26, 1861, in a vote of 113 to 17 (Sacher). Within Louisiana, laid New Orleans, a major port city, just behind New York City for handling cargo in the United States (“Pre Civil-War New Orleans”). New Orleans also handled most of the Confederacy’s war supplies from foreign powers. From the beginning of the Civil War, New Orleans was a key target for the Union. Within months of the start of the war, New Orleans was under Union control. Just before the Battle of New Orleans, Union forces defeated the Confederates in Tennessee. Many Confederates had come up from Louisiana to defend Tennessee, leaving New Orleans open for attack ( Staff). Leading the Union Navy was David Farragut, an accomplished naval officer and a Southern who remained loyal to the North. Farragut was suppose to follow a plan set by Union officers that included him capturing two forts upstream from New Orleans before trying to capture the port city. However, Farragut went for a bolder plan and went past the two forts at night, firing at them. He successfully reached New Orleans and was able to have more troops brought in. On April 25th, 1862, New Orleans fell to Farragut along with two Confederate forts surrounding it (“David Farragut”). Four days later, New Orleans officially surrendered to avoid more casualties in the city. Capturing New Orleans was a considerable victory for the Union forces. As shown in the political cartoon, The New Orleans Pulm, Lincoln is sitting on a stool eating a plum, from New Orleans, celebrating the Union victory, proud of himself. The president had put his faith into a Southern man and it greatly helped him (“The New Orleans Plum”). The Battle of New Orleans was not only a successful naval win for the Union, it also forever change the New Orleans seen in today’s society. Culture in New Orleans experienced changes and continuities during the course of the Civil War. Before the Civil War had began, New Orleans was unlike any other city during the time. New Orleans was described as “… an American city – just a very different place with a very peculiar history. New Orleans is a place where Africans, both slave and free, and American Indians shared their cultures and intermingled with European settlers” (“Pre-Civil War New Orleans”). Before New Orleans was under the United States control, the French and Spanish both ruled the territory. Both of these foreign powers would largely influence the Creole culture found in New Orleans. The French widely influenced the language and the Spanish architecture is seen throughout the city. The French largely encouraged the mixing of races between whites, Native Americans, and Africans. Although there was slavery in New Orleans, some bought their way to freedom and continued to live in New Orleans. However, only about 150 emanicaptations were recorded during France’s reign. When the Spanish took over New Orleans, they continued many of the same traditions introduced by the French. Under Spanish reign, about 2,500 slaves were freed. Many of them bought their freedom, earned it for actions of bravery in battle, or for saving their master’s life. Some of the slaves freed were black mothers of mixed children, who were freed to raise their child out of slavery by the father. Many freed black males  became highly skilled craftsmen, educators, and planters. Freed black women were known for being cooks or hairdressers. While the Spanish were open to the culture growing in New Orleans, they did not want French settlers to remain in the city and enlisted the help of blacks to remove them from New Orleans. Blacks came from the United States to help with the removal as well, and they found the black Creoles to be exotic. Black Creoles practiced Catholicism, spoke Creole and/or French, and had a completely different way of life compared to other blacks from America. To avoid major conflicts and culture clashes, Creoles and Americans lived on opposite sides of New Orleans and even ran separate governments. The Americans mainly claimed the uptown side. The culture of Creoles was unlike anything Americans had ever seen before, from their language to prays and other customs common to the city (“Pre-Civil War New Orleans”). The most popular of these customs is Mardi Gras, a huge celebration the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday to signify the last day to indulge before Lent begins. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, was introduced to the American continent by French explorers who founded the territory. The first Mardi Gras to take place in America was in 1703, in what is now Mobile, Alabama (“Mardi Gras History”). Celebrations grew rapidly for the event and popularity also grew once New Orleans was established. The Spanish allowed for the festivities to continue, but masked balls that were favored under French rule were banned and it also continued under the Americans. In 1823, black creoles started the balls again and the carnival had its first parade in 1837 (“Pre-Civil War New Orleans”). In the 1840s there was a push for Mardi Gras to be canceled due to wild behavior from citizens. However, six men from Mobile, Alabama who had been apart of a New Year’s Eve parade for years, put together a parade for Mardi Gras that quickly grew in popularity and saved the tradition for being forgotten (“Mardi Gras History”). The Civil War would dampen this celebration and other customs of Creoles because of its violence and the prejudice of American citizens from both the North and South. Following the Battle of New Orleans, Benjamin Butler lead Union forces into New Orleans and claimed it for the Union on May 1st, 1862. Over the next few years, Butler would cause many issues for New Orleans and its citizens. Prior to commanding Union forces in New Orleans, Butler was “a man of contradictions” (Gauthreaux). He supported Jefferson Davis’s presidency and when he joined the Union army, he quickly became known for his erratic personality. Butler attacked and captured Baltimore, without any orders to do so, arresting Maryland leaders in favor of the secession. Despite his behavior, Butler was successful and gained respect from the public, Lincoln saw this and made Butler a major general (Gauthreaux). Butler’s behavior also led to lasting effects on the city of New Orleans during his seven-month reign. He extended policies among the citizens that were widely hated. In response, women would teach their children Confederate songs, people wore Confederate pins, and others did not acknowledge the Union soldiers. In one case, a woman reportedly dumped a chamber pot onto Farragut’s head from her balcony in hatred (“General Butler and the Women.”). Butler did not stop at the domestic citizens of the city, his harsh treatment towards foreign residents would led to European support for the Confederacy (Gauthreaux). Butler’s unpopularity would reach a new high with General Order #28, this order stated “… any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town…” (Butler). Two arrests were made under the order however, both women were released from prison after only serving fractions of their sentences (“General Butler and the Women.”). The local newspaper, the Daily Picayune, was shut down for printing a story about the general order. Citizens were asked to paint their chamber pots with Butler on it to show their hatred. Eventually, Butler allowed the Picayune to print again, if they returned in favor of the Union. After missing 34 issues, the Picayune began printing again in favor of Butler and his troops (“Resumption of the Picayune”). Butler had taken away first amendment rights from New Orleans because he only wanted pro-Union works in circulation. After only seven months, Butler was removed from his post in New Orleans. He was placed in charge of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, this was also known as the Army of the James (Gauthreaux). Although Butler only served in New Orleans for seven months, he left a lasting scar on the city. His policies tarnished customs that were common in New Orleans and violated the citizens rights and freedoms. After the fall of the Confederacy, Union troops left New Orleans and left the city changed forever. Although, creole culture was still prominent it was not viewed the same. Widespread violence swept through New Orleans in the form of hate groups. The White League, a popular group in Louisiana, made it their goal to wipe out the African Americans and their influence. In their platform they stated “… teach blacks to beware of further insolence and aggression…” (“Louisiana White League Platform”). Another violent group, the Knights of White Camellia, mainly used intimidation to scare opponents and were an ultimate failure in achieving their goals (Nystrom).


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