CIVIL WAR

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THE CIVIL WAR

 

The Civil War plunged Illinois into a period of political uncertainty and economic slowdown. President Lincoln faced strong opposition from both abolitionists, who wanted him to take a harder stand on the slavery issue, and anti-abolitionists or copperheads, who opposed the freeing of slaves. Some copperheads even went as far as proposing secession of the southern half of Illinois to the Confederacy. The influence of the strong antiabolitionist movement in Missouri where slavery was legal and the close economic ties to the south in St. Louis was seen as a threat to the Union. Because of this southern element in St. Louis and the need to keep Missouri's resources for the north, the city was occupied in 1861 as were other areas along the border that were torn between the Union and the Confederacy. The criticism in the north, mainly from the Democrats, was viewed as dangerous disloyalty by Lincoln, who suspended the writ of habeas corpus and allowed many pro-southern civilians to be arrested and held (Howard 1972:307-310; McReynolds 1962:211-217). Much of this protest was over the usurpation of governmental and economic control by the Union military occupation and suppression of freedom of speech and the press (Cole 1922:304, 305).

The end of the war found very mixed economic conditions existing in Illinois. The blockade of the southern commerce and the war effort in the north had helped to push the state into industrialization, as well as a diversification and intensification of agriculture to replace that which ..as cut off by absence of southern trade. Employment and wages had risen some, though they were negated by the rise in the cost of living and escalating inflation. The drain of manpower during the war was followed by an increasing demand on the working class. This provided a stimulus for organized labor, and laid the foundation for the confrontation between labor and industry to occur later in the century (Cole 1922:364-372).

 

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