American History of War

Civil War and World War 2

The difference between a civil war and a world war lies in the boundary within which the war is fought. Blattman and Miguel (2010) defined a civil war as an armed conflict between organized groups or factions within the same state. The groups often comprise government armed forces of the territorial boundaries of the particular state, often intending to establish a national or sub-regional government, defend autonomy, maintain or sustain a territorial control of a geographical area, or even try to attain secession. Civil War of 1861-1865 is a critical event in American consciousness whose cause, just like most wars, is still debated upon to date.

Varon (2008) argued that the American Civil War erupted from several long-standing disagreements and tensions concerning American life and politics. The Northerners and Southerners, both politicians and citizens, had been clashing on a range of issues, including economic interest, the federal government’s power to control the states, cultural values, and most prominently, slavery in the American life and economy. While most of the issues were settled peacefully using diplomacy, the institution of slavery remained a big issue. Bontemps (2008) writes that with lifestyle immersed in the long-standing white supremacy and agricultural economy, which relied extensively on slave labor, Southern states perceived enslavement as essential to their survival. With an economy that is more industrial-based than agriculture-based, the Northern region enjoyed a stable flow of European immigrants (Bontemps 2008). Many immigrants comprised the impoverished refugees from the 1840s and 1850s potato famine and could be hired at low wages to work in the factories. This significantly reduced the need for enslaved people in the North. The fertile land and the longer growing periods in the Southern states established an agriculture-fueled economy, with sprawling White-owned plantations that depended immensely on slaves for various firm duties. The economic disparity between the North and the South generated irreconcilable differences in political and social views that eventually brewed into the war (Blattman, & Miguel, 2010). Contrary to the civil war, which mainly happens within a state, the world war is a war where almost every country or most principal countries are involved (Berger, 2012). America was also part of World War 2.

Overy (2014) writes that on December 7th, 1941, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the US declared war on Japan. About three days later, following the US declaration of war on Japan, Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler declared war on the US, prompting the United States to declare war on Italy and Germany the same day. Massive mobilization efforts promptly followed the US involvement in WW2. The nation sent millions of men and women to serve overseas while those who remained in the country defended the US with every means they could get. Women who had never engaged in the military helped with various duties, including aircraft manufacturing facilities, military uniform production plants, munitions factories, and many more. As the need for more resources, including steel, increased, American citizens engaged in rationing activities, scrap metal drive, and recycling, while others cheeped in their hard-earned dollars. Spykman (2017) argued that the United States’ involvement in WW2 helped get the country’s economy back to its feet after the depression. Even though jobs were hard to come by a decade earlier, every American who needed a job now could get one. The war created nearly 17 million jobs, and workers could pay off their debts and begin saving.

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Overall, the Civil War and World War 2 impacted the US differently and had other causes. The Civil War was caused by tensions around slavery and led to abolishing slavery, while World War 2 resulted in US economic acceleration post-depression.


Berger, T. U. (2012). War, guilt, and world politics after World War II. Cambridge University Press.

Blattman, C., & Miguel, E. (2010). Civil war. Journal of Economic literature48(1), 3-57.

Bontemps, A. (2008). The punished self: Surviving slavery in the Colonial South. Cornell University Press.

Overy, R. J. (2014). The Origins of the Second World War. Routledge.

Spykman, N. J. (2017). America’s strategy in world politics: the United States and the balance of power. Routledge.

Varon, E. R. (2008). Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859. Univ of North Carolina Press.