The effects of the American Civil War largely contributed to the country that we live in today in many ways. It resulted in more American deaths than any other war in our history. It reshaped the American economy and confirmed the single political entity of the United States of America and a unified federal government.
The number of deaths that contributed to the civil war is unknown because of the lack of accurate population accounting. Still, with the help of census data, we have a fairly accurate figure. The total amount of lives lost during the civil war is estimated to be approximately 750,000. The Union is estimated to have lost almost four men for every three Confederacy lost. The number of lives lost during the civil war is almost double that of World War II, the second deadliest war for Americans.
One lasting effect of the war on America was how it reshaped the American economy into what is now considered the modern economy. Before the war, most people used gold dollars, but afterward, most people used paper currency. The new, consolidated government imposed an income tax on all Americans. Along with the vast income generated by taxes, the government also had a mobilized workforce of men who had served in the war. Those two factors led to the industrialization of America and the building a country-wide railroad system. Having the railroads allowed the government to irradicate all the buffalo in the country by shooting the herds with high-powered rifles while the train was moving, effectively making it very difficult for Native Americans to thrive and survive in their known ways of living. This made it easier for the government to fight and capture the natives and expand its territory without as much fear for the new settlers.
The war also resulted in almost 4 million slaves being freed and added to the American workforce. This led to sharecropping and a huge boost in food productivity and export potential. Because the now emancipated slaves had no means of creating wealth to buy property, they had to rent land from previous slaveholders in exchange for a portion of the crops they grew. Although the system was far from ideal, it did allow America to have an even more abundant supply of crops to export to other parts of the world, creating even more wealth and growth for the country, another contributing factor.
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