Chapter 20 13 Themes

Chapter 20

Girding for War: The North and the South

Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.

The over-arching theme of chapter 20 is that both sides prepared for war. The North relied on numbers to their advantage, the South hoped for England to intervene on their side, and the border states were in the balance.

  1. After Ft. Sumter started the war, Abe Lincoln's #1 goal was to restore the divided nation. So, preventing the border states from leaving the nation was a top concern. "Border states" were slave states that hadn’t left the nation. Throughout the war, Abe would make concessions to “keep them happy.” The border states never left.
  2. All along the South felt that England would help them. The idea was that King Cotton’s dominance would force the English into helping the Southerners. This never happened, largely because Uncle Tom’s Cabin had convinced the English people of slavery’s horrors.
  3. The North had the advantage in almost every category: population, industry, money, navy. Both sides turned to a draft, the nation’s first. The draft was very unpopular and many riots broke out.

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