The American Civil War was a four year war ranging from 1861-65, between the United States and the Confederate States of America, eleven Southern states that seceded from the Union. Slavery was one of the main causes of the war, but different social cultures and political beliefs factored into the start of the war. Before, during and after the war both the North and South tried to persuade the country’s people into siding with their side. The use of propaganda became very popular among the Union and Confederacy. Both the North and South used propaganda in the Civil War in order to persuade their people.
Propaganda had an effect both before and during the war. People in both the North and South believed their ideas were right and that they were going to easily win the war.They felt strong loyalty to ideas that their government supported. The people showed their support for the war by volunteering, their patriotism led the first soldiers to join the Union and Confederate armies.
Promise of new uniforms, weapons, and a short, exciting war also convinced young men to enter the armies. The new recruits believed soldiers lived lives of excitement and adventure. People’s patriotism and loyalty to their government greatly affected the Civil War. Visual propaganda was one of the most popular types of propaganda to be used in the Civil War. Recruitment posters employed patriotic appeals, slogans, and virtue words. Some targeted specific groups of people but all tried to convince the audience to support the war.
There are many examples of visual propaganda including “The Black Conscription” a cartoon which portrayed that black men shouldn’t be permitted to fight alongside white men. This was an example of racial prejudice and stereotyping in transfer, meaning a technique of projecting perceived negative qualities of one group to another to discredit it. “Dividing the National Map” was another cartoon mocking the four presidential candidates of 1860. The cartoon depicted the candidates tearing apart a map of the country, this symbolized the tensions underlying the election.
” The Amalgamation Waltz” depicted a ballroom dance where colored men dance with white women, while there are white male escorts on the balcony. This cartoon suggests abolition of slavery and amalgamation of freed slaves would result in horrible miscegenation. Miscegenation meaning marriage or sexual relations between a man and a woman of different races.
The use of visual propaganda was popular throughout the Civil War. Another form of propaganda used was written propaganda or literature. Fiction genres focused on the war, women defending home front, boy’s adventures supporting the war, and stories about opposing side.
The “Anti-slavery Almanac” by Hinton R. Helper instructed, persuaded, and horrified readers about the evils of slave system and discrimination of colored people. “The Impending Crisis of the South” stated that slavery deprived blacks of income that would stimulate the South’s economy. Slavery robbed poor whites of the opportunity to find work in the South and it told slaveholders to emancipate slaves for the good of the South. Uncle Tom’s Cabin published by Harriet Beecher Stowe, captured the inhumanity of slavery.
Written propaganda were in multitude during the war. Other forms of propaganda included writings, speeches, poetry, and music. Theodore Weld was a prominent abolitionist minister who tried to convince America’s necessity and justice of abolishing slavery through his writings and speeches. Songs and poetry about the war were enormously popular. Authors tried to convey that their causes were great and their heroes were admirable. The poems and music helped to unify citizens, inspire troops, memorialize the dead, and bind the nation’s wounds after the war ended. Abraham Lincoln, the president of the United States, believed slavery should not be allowed to spread.
Lincoln was a great example of a propagandist. In order to persuade others he once said ” I think that slavery is wrong, morally, socially, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union” (BrainyQuote.com).He believed the best way to preserve the United States was to limit slavery and let it dissolve over time. Lincoln proposed a compensated emancipation that stated slaveholders would be paid for freeing slaves, though slavery existed mainly in the South. Over years the whole country agreed to let it exist, so the whole country was asked to pay to get rid of it.
William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist, started his own abolitionist newspaper “The Liberator”, which was the most influential anti-slavery periodical during its time. His publication changed the course of American anti-slavery movement. He said abolition, rather than African colonization, was the answer to solving the problem of slavery. He once quoted ” Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion” (BrainyQuote.
com). Garrison also led mob parades with rope tied around his neck, in order to express his disgust with extreme views on slavery. Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Davis was also a Mexican War hero, U.S. senator from Mississippi, and U.S. Secretary of War.
Davis’s persuasive techniques consisted of persuading his own countrymen during the war into supplying the army with men, arms, and money. Jefferson Davis became a reviled figure once the Southern editors turned against him. He was accused of choosing poor generals and muddling in military affairs.
Northerners had supported the Civil War in the first place because it was to help keep the Union together. Many Northerners though began turning against the war with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Their views began to change. Some believed that the war should only be about restoring the Union and not ending slavery, but the Emancipation Proclamation was going to end slavery which was their reasoning for turning against the war. Jim Crow was a racial imagery propaganda used to support Jim Crow law and customs. Jim Crow allowed people to absorb in stereotypes, discrimination, injustice, segregation, and racism. Confederate memorials built during the Jim Crow movement, revise and distort the story of the Civil War.
They also deemphasize the role of slavery as a major part of the Civil War. The Jim Crow movement was a time of major segregation towards colored people in the United States. Propaganda was used in the Civil War by the North and the South, and it affected both before and during the war. It impacted many people in both the North and South to join their side in fighting for the ideas they supported. Patriotism especially led the people in the Union and Confederacy into making the decisions whether to side with the North or South.
Propaganda had an affect on the Civil War and will always continue to have affects on wars occurring now and towards the future.