The Effects of Civil War in Texas
The Civil War ranks highly among all the events that have had a great impact on American society. It is the most traumatic event that the Americans have ever experienced in history. The generation that lived during the Civil War must have endured a lot like the experiences of the event still run fresh in the memories of the current generations. While the Civil was a national disaster directly related to two groups, its impact did not go unnoticed even by the citizens living at the grassroots level. In fact, most of the effects of the Civil war were much felt by the people living at the poverty line even though most of their stories remain untold. The impact of the Civil War can only be understood extensively by studying states separately rather than creating a generalized image from information gained from the people living in major towns and cities. All states might not have had similar experiences from the war; surprisingly some of the states that fought in fewer battles could have had the worst experiences. Texas was among the states which fought battles during the war and eve seceded from the United States Union. Although Texas later rejoined the union and pledged her allegiance to the nation’s constitution, it took really long for the state to return to its original status before the war. A lot was lost during the war that would take years to rebuild. When the war began, every corner of Texas was immensely affected by the demands of war which the state adequately met. Despite the low number of battles Texas was involved in, the hardships endured were widespread in the state than other states in the United States. Texas experienced some of the excesses of political disorganization, economic and social failures. Political turmoil led to civil wars within the state, along with war with northern states. Economic demands for the soldier’s upkeep and sustenance for the people of Texas was in a deficit. All the while social relations deteriorated at an alarming rate, while men fought women began to take on the patriarchal roles. Texas was in for a struggle the moment they compromised their allegiance to the United States. The trauma experienced in Texas kicked off immediately after the state’s decision to secede from the United States Union to join the Confederacy. The secession was followed by a series of economic blunders which weakened the state’s economy and a sudden breakdown of the social structures.
The Civil War had a great impact on the politics of Texas ranging from weakening the state’s political system to making tough political decisions which the state would later regret. During the war, some political leaders were forcefully kicked out of their offices, and the state ceased being a member of the United States’ Union. Texas joined the Confederate States of America as a response to the election of President Abraham Lincoln since he strongly denounced slavery, an institution that was deemed very beneficial to most of the Texans for both agricultural and economic prowess. The secession happened immediately after the replacement of Governor Sam Houston following his denial to oath for the Confederacy. On March 2nd, 1861 Texas repealed an ordinance that had been made on July 4, 1845. In the 1845 ordinance, the state had affirmed an annexation to the United States and the nation’s constitution. The step was accompanied by a strong revocation of the allegiance and powers of both the federal government and the obligations stated in the nation’s constitution. Even though Governor Houston had approved the secession of Texas, he did not urge the state to become part of the Southern Confederacy. He felt that it would be better if Texas reverted to its former status as an independent state and adopt a neutral position. Since Houston owed allegiance to both the Texans and the Union, he chose to remain neutral on the matter. His removal from office marked a series of political upheavals leading to various battles.
The Civil War led to the imposition of some unfavorable laws to the Texan citizens. Although the population di not complain, the impact of the laws was much felt as it led to both social problems and economic breakdown. These laws lowered the general growth rate of the state and even the depletion of the already acquired wealth and resources. Texans had to give in to all laws enacted on them by the Confederate Union as they had revoked their membership to the United States. The Texans also desired to win the battle against the Northerners who were believed to be favored more by the government. The Texans felt that the abolition of slavery was not just an act of humanity but rather a move to suppress them economically.
The Confederate Congress passed the Conscription Act on March 16th, 1862. The act declared all the white men aged between eighteen and thirty-five eligible for military recruitment to fight in the battles on behalf of the Confederate frontier. Texas was not to be exempted from this as it had also joined the Confederate Union. The act was the first one of the nature in United States’ history. To maintain agricultural and industrial production, the Confederate passed various exemptions although they had refused to exempt plantation overseers at first. The exemption was reviewed during the last quarter of 1862 in favor of the white men owning plantations. In every plantation consisting of twenty or more slaves, one white man was to be exempted from the recruitment per plantation, a rule that rose to be popularly known as Twenty-Slave Law. The decision was a great relief to the Texans as they could monitor their plantations to ensure that all goes on as required for maximum yields. Plantations that were close to one another whose number of slaves compounded to twenty or more were also allowed to have an overseer exempted from the recruitment. The Twenty-Slave Law was believed to be key in maintaining the productivity of the black population working as slaves and also in ensuring the safety of the whites. Despite the wide acceptability of the law, some whites, especially the small scale farmers, became resentful citing that the law would only favor the wealthy who held a large number of slaves. Following the complaint, the law was further amended. Under the new amendment, the whites who were unable to secure an overseer not eligible for military recruitment and minors were exempted on a condition that they would be paying five hundred dollars as a fee for the privilege. The amendment through relief to the Texans was a bit exploitative. The minority had to pay a fine that was too high depending on their living circumstances.
The State of Texas contributed thousands of men to the war mainly due to the Conscription Law. An estimate of 60,000 Texans were recruited in the Confederate army. Since not all Texans supported the secession some those who still supported the United States did not relent. Around two thousand men joined the Union forces. The number of people joining the Confederate was much higher compared to that of those who joined the Union army. Both the numbers and the location of the Texas military forces on the Confederate frontier enhanced the Confederate’s ability and made their role in the battle distinctive (Campbell 2012). The Texas military strongly figured into the war strategy in the Confederate Frontier. The Texans played a very prominent role which at times goes unrecognized especially at the coastline in defending the border.During the civil war, Texas was politically torn as the citizens got polarized on the issue of membership either to the United States or the Confederate Union. The Civil War brought forth numerous political divides among both the leaders and their subjects. The differences in political beliefs resulted in many problems and divisions. Although many citizens widely accepted secession, it was a major ground for political divisions. The German immigrants occupying the Hill Country were major critics of secession. Some North Texas counties, Mexican Texans and many Tejanos were also opposed to secession. In some incident, such disagreements led to violence and unnecessary deaths. In 1862, thirty-six Union subscribers, majorly German Texans, were massacred in an attempt to flee to Mexico due to their political views near Nueces River. In 1866, a monument that lives up to date was erected in their honor.
During the Civil War, the state of Texas experienced an economic breakdown that demanded a lot of effort to restore. During the Civil War, the economic structure of Texas literally got destroyed. Firstly, the agricultural sector started deteriorating following the calls to abolish slavery. The economy had earlier heavily relied on agriculture as the backbone of its economy. The state experienced an alarming shortage of free labor following the departure of the initially acquired slaves. There was limited supervision of the available slaves and hence lower productivity. The freed slaves continually left the plantations leading to limited labor. The recruitment of the Texans into the Confederate army was a huge blow to the plantation farming system in the state. Lowered supervision in the plantations meant that the slaves would not do their best and hence low yields.
Low agricultural production consequently translated to low industrial production. The industries in the region highly relied on agricultural produce from the farms. The fall of the industries was largely attributed to the consequent shortages of goods. Products such as paper, salt, coffee, clothing, and medicine became rare commodities in the state. However, the trade which had been established along the Mexican border went on and aided increase the supplies in Texas. With progress in time, the United States’ naval blockade barred the trade. The Texans had to sustain their men at war and kept sending them items at all costs further impairing the state’s economy. Due to the decline of the established industries, the Texans opted to start sending hand-made items to the army. To maintain the food supplies, they grew more wheat and corn for their men at war. The need to feed the army increased daily, a fact which continued straining the economy of the state.
The economic decline in Texas would be fully attributed to the demands to sustain the soldiers at the battle fighting for the Confederate frontier. The demands required a shift of priorities to meet the most basic needs. During the war, food and weapon supplies were required in large amounts. Therefore, the state concentrated more on planting more corn and wheat to ensure that the soldiers were well-fed. The soldiers needed powerful weapons not only for their protection but also to defeat in the battles that they fought. Despite the efforts put in place by the citizens back at home to maintain the food and weapon supplies at par, some Texan soldiers would at times die of hunger. Similarly, the soldiers were in some incidences wounded severely by their enemies heightening the death rates. The shift of priorities explains the sudden fall of cotton farming in Texas during times of war and increase after the war. Even though the demand for cotton was high during the battles, the desire for food was higher.
The Civil War years were characterized by numerous trade barriers which continued until the end of the war. Texas ceased importing goods from the Northern states. Almost all the transportation networks were tempered with, and the US union blockades destroyed all the links for the cotton growers who were exporting their produce. Although the trade with Mexico was a relief to the Texans, they still suffered numerous shortages. The Texans lacked larger trade networks which would have benefited them more and helped them to build their economy.
The conscription act which was passed by the Confederate Congress contributed largely to the decline of the Texan social structures. Most of the Texan men, particularly the young and energetic ones were sent to war leaving their families and societies unguarded. The departure of the meant would lead to the decline of the family structure which is a crucial component of all societies. Conventionally, a complete family is made of father mother and children. The absence of the father figure in the families meant the loss of a key family building stone. Women are not ordinarily expected to raise children on their own. Men have special tasks to play within their families which cannot be fully and satisfactorily played by the women. Hence for every family to function properly, all key participants should be present. The absence of one figure, to some extent, implies malfunctioning at certain levels. During the war times, the women left behind took the roles of both men and women; taking care of the families, farming, providing security and guarding family’s property.
The civil war deprived family members the opportunity to live and bond together. The absence of men from home meant that they had little time to live and share with their families. The family institution, once well knit together started to disintegrate. The disintegration of the family meant that the values learned at the family level would also breakdown. Values such as unity started fading away slowly. The decline of social values would also be attributed to the heavy duties that women and children had to perform. Since they were overburdened, they would spend most of their time working leaving little or no time at all for socialization.
Societies during the civil war faced a period of clashes brought about by ideological differences. They fought one another in violent battles or advanced discrimination. Nearly every society desired to attain dominance over the other. These clashes cultivated disunity at the community level. Members of a particular society would harass those from another community believing that the defeat would make them superior. Due to this, people lived in fear of being attacked or even being killed.In the entire state, the recruitment of men into the army pushed the women to take burden by fulfilling all family needs. Orthodoxly, women, were only tasked with roles linked to taking care and providing for their families solely during the times of shortages and extreme hardships. The women who lost their husbands in the military battles had to continue with the role even after the war. The absence of men greatly impacted the societies leading to the reversion of social norms. The women and children were left alone to perform greater responsibilities which were rather too demanding for them.
Texas witnessed a huge population decline during the Civil War. Thousands of men died at the war while the reproduction rates went down due to the absence of men at home. Back in the state, people massacred one another due to ideological differences. The death of people at war and low reproduction was a threat to the future of the state. The decrease in population would translate into the limited workforce in the economy. The communities had started growing smaller and smaller. If the civil war had continued for quite some long, some communities would have perhaps become extinct. During the civil war era, there existed two opposing groups in Texas. One group supported the secession while the other was in favor of the United States’ Union. The hostility levels grew between confederate alias and union sympathizers. There existed endless conflicts between the two groups with each group seeking to outdo the other.
Conclusively, it is evident from the discussion that involvement in a war is costly- politically, economically and socially. War affects politics in the sense that politicians have no choice but to make tough decisions (life and death decisions) in various instances. Economically, wars demand huge funding both for buying weapons and sustaining the soldiers in the battlefields. Soldiers get torn away from their families who stay back patiently waiting for the unassured return of their loved ones. The Civil War changed the lives of everyone involved, particularly those of Texans. Although Texas was saved from most of the calamity suffered by other states in the Confederate alliance, Texas’ political feuds increased, its agricultural economy dependent on slave labor, was eradicated. The deaths of men: husbands, fathers, and sons only made the situation worse. The need for the State’s reconstruction politically, economically, and socially was hard, but necessary. Despite all the hardships endured by Texans, these ancestors’ tenacity and arduous perseverance in creating a state, post-war, viable for success is a testament to Texas’ resilience to bounce back after such devastation.