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8 things to think about as we mark the conflict's 150th anniversary

And the 620,000 ancestors lost. Other vestiges have weakened with the passage of time but are no less legacies of the four horrific, heroic years that shaped us as one nation. Here are eight ways the Civil War indelibly changed us and how we live: We have ambulances and hospitals. The Civil War began during medieval medicine's last gasp and ended at the dawn of modern medicine.

Four years later, legions of field-tested doctors, well-versed in anatomy, anesthesia and surgical practice, were poised to make great medical leaps. The nation's first ambulance corps, organized to rush wounded soldiers to battlefront hospitals and using wagons developed and deployed for that purpose, was created during the Civil War.

The idea was to collect wounded soldiers from the field, take them to a dressing station and then transport them to the field hospital. Doctors laid out the hospitals as camps divided into well-defined wards for specific activities such as surgery and convalescence.

Women flocked to serve these hospitals as nurses. Before the war, most people received health care at home. After the war, hospitals adapted from the battlefront model cropped up all over the country.

The ambulance and nurses' corps became fixtures, with the Civil War's most famous nurse, Clara Barton, going on to establish the American Red Cross. We prize America as a land of opportunity. The Civil War paved the way for Americans to live, learn and move about in ways that had seemed all but inconceivable just a few years earlier.

  • Homesteading in the West;
  • The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude;
  • The form of the distinctions varies with place and time, sometimes including rigid castes, sometimes tribal or clan hierarchies, sometimes a more flexible social class;
  • The "Solid South," as it was known, protected the interests of agrarian Southern whites and consistently elected Democrats to Congress from Reconstruction through the early 1960s, when the national Democratic Party's support of the civil rights movement allowed the Republican Party to begin making new political inroads below the Mason-Dixon Line;
  • The desire for complete freedom to come and go as one pleases, carry weapons, and organize demonstrations may conflict with a desire for public security.

With these doors of opportunity open, the United States experienced rapid economic growth. Immigrants also began seeing the fast-growing nation as a land of opportunity and began coming here in record numbers. For many years Southern lawmakers had blocked the passage of land-grant legislation. But they weren't around after secession, and in 1862 Congress passed a series of land-grant measures that would forever change America's political, economic and physical landscape: The First Transcontinental Railroad.

Also known as the "Pacific Railroad," the world's first transcontinental line, built between 1863 and 1869, was at least partly intended to bind California to the Union during the Civil War.

To build the line, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads were granted 400-foot rights-of-way plus 10 square miles of government-owned land for every mile of track built. Homesteading in the West. The Homestead Act, enacted in 1862, provided that any adult citizen or intended citizen who had never borne arms against the U.

After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirement.

The land-grant college system. The Morrill Land Grant Act authorized the sale of public lands in every state to underwrite the establishment of colleges dedicated to the "agricultural and mechanical arts. The same year brought another innovation — a national paper currency — that would literally bankroll the rapidly expanding government and at the same time grease the wheels of commerce from coast to coast. In 1862, with the Union's expenses mounting, the government had no way to continue paying for the war.

Taylor, who would later became known as "the father of the greenback. We begin summer with a tribute to extent did economic political and social change effect liv soldiers. Ever wonder why we display flags and memorialize fallen solders just as summer gets under way? The first memorial days were group events organized in 1865 in both the South and North, by black and white, just a month after the war ended.

Quickly evolving into an annual tradition, these "decoration days" were usually set for early summer, when the most flowers would be available to lay on headstones.

How the Civil War Changed Your Life

Decoration days helped the torn nation heal from its wounds. People told — and retold — their war stories, honored the feats of local heroes, reconciled with former foes.

This year Memorial Day falls on May 30. No matter where you are on Memorial Day, a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.

We let technology guide how we communicate. Abraham Lincoln was a techie. A product of the Industrial Revolution, Lincoln is the only president to have held a patent for a device to buoy boats over shoals. He was fascinated with the idea of applying technology to war: In 1861, for example, after being impressed by a demonstration of ideas for balloon reconnaissance, he established the Balloon Corps, which would soon begin floating hot-air balloons above Confederate camps in acts of aerial espionage.

Lincoln also encouraged the development of rapid-fire weapons to modernize combat. Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, notes that Lincoln personally tested the "coffee-mill gun," an early version of a hand-cranked machine gun. But above all, Lincoln loved the telegram. Invented just a few decades earlier, the telegraph system had gone national in 1844.

  • Decoration days helped the torn nation heal from its wounds;
  • At one theoretical extreme is the purely capitalist system, which assumes that free competition produces the best allocation of scarce resources, the greatest productivity and efficiency, and the lowest costs;
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  • The rules may be informal and conveyed by example, such as how to behave at a social gathering, or they may be written rules that are strictly enforced;
  • If a country does the things it does most efficiently in terms of either quality or cost, or both and sells its products to other nations, such a system theoretically enables all participating countries to come out ahead.

As Tom Wheeler recounts in his book, Mr. Twice daily throughout his presidency, Lincoln walked to the telegraph office of the War Department on the site of today's Eisenhower Executive Office Building, just west of the White House to receive updates and to send orders to his generals on the front.

He sent this one to General Ulysses S. With the telegraph came the need for concise communication. After all, every dot and dash of Morse Code carried a cost. Gone were the "wherefores," "herewith" and "hences. Lincoln's Gettysburg and Second Inaugural addresses both demonstrate this new economy of phrase.

We identify ourselves as Democrats and Republicans. Before 1854, you might have been a Whig.

Or a Free Soiler. But that year the Republican Party was founded by anti-slavery activists and refugees from other political parties to fight the iron grip of powerful southern Democrats. As the name of their party suggests, these activists believed that the republic's interests should take precedence over the states'. In the years before the war, many northern Democrats defected to join the new party — and, in 1860, to elect Abraham Lincoln as the first Republican president — while southern Democrats led the march to secession.

The Democratic and Republican parties both survived the war and have held their spots as the dominant U. The "Solid South," as it was known, protected the interests of agrarian Southern whites and consistently elected Democrats to Congress from Reconstruction through the early 1960s, when the national Democratic Party's support of the civil rights movement allowed the Republican Party to begin making new political inroads below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Within a few years, North and South swapped party hats. Conservative southerners grew disenchanted with the Democratic Party's increasingly progressive platforms. Republicans capitalized on this with their "Southern Strategy," an organized plan to make headway there on a socially conservative, states' rights platform.

In reverse, historically Republican strongholds in the Northeast began voting Democrat, establishing the pattern of red and blue that we see on election-night maps today.

  1. But that year the Republican Party was founded by anti-slavery activists and refugees from other political parties to fight the iron grip of powerful southern Democrats.
  2. When more resources are needed than are available to any one person such as to build a factory , they may be obtained from other people, either by taking out loans from banks or by selling ownership shares of the business to other people.
  3. To gain something we want or need, it is usually necessary to give up something we already have, or at least give up an opportunity to have gained something else instead.

We see war "up close and personal. Eyewitness accounts by reporters and soldiers were relayed via telegraph to the country's 2,500 newspapers, printed almost immediately and then read voraciously by citizens desperate to know how their boys were faring. The Civil War created a tradition of intimate war reportage that is still with us today. Take this excerpt from a dispatch from George Townsend, who was just 20 when he began to cover the war for the New York Herald: There were some who had been shot in the bowels, and now and then they were frightfully convulsed, breaking into shrieks and shouts.

Some of them iterated a single word, as, 'doctor,' or 'help,' or 'God,' or 'oh! The act of calling seemed to lull the pain. Many were unconscious and lethargic, moving their finger, and lips mechanically, but never more to open their eyes upon the light; they were already going through the valley and the shadow.

John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, says that the front-line dispatches influenced his modern battlefront reporting. Otherwise, they're just statistics. But the Civil War was the first such conflict recorded by photographers the most famous of whom was Mathew Brady.

Because the primitive wet-plate technology of the era required that subjects be still at the moment the camera's shutter snapped, images of the era depict virtually every aspect of the war but one: But that in time would change, too. We hold certain rights to be sacred. Think of these three amendments to the U. Constitution, all ratified within five years of the end of the Civil War: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place extent did economic political and social change effect liv to their jurisdiction.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

  1. In a purely capitalist system, on the one hand, competition is seldom free because for any one resource, product, or service, a few large corporations or unions tend to monopolize the market and charge more than open competition would allow.
  2. Several children together may vandalize a building, even though none of them would do it on his or her own. Conversely, in some subcultures of a highly competitive society, such as that of the United States, a lack of interest in competition may be regarded as being out of step.
  3. Even when the majority of the people in a society agree on a social decision, the minority who disagree may have some protection.
  4. Nations with strong internal consensus on their own religious or political ideologies may pursue foreign policies that aggressively promote the spread of such ideologies in other countries and undermine groups with competing ideas.
  5. Unlike other species, we combine socialization with deliberate changes in social behavior and organization over time. On the one hand, each new generation learns the society's cultural forms and thus does not have to reinvent strategies for producing food, handling conflict, educating young people, governing, and so forth.

Before the Civil War, the concept of liberty and justice for all meant little unless you were white and male. Going beyond the abolition of slavery, the 14th and 15th amendments were the first extensions of citizenship and voting rights to minority groups. Of course, half of us — women — went without a voice until 1920, but the postwar laws set a precedent that eventually would lead to suffrage for all adults.

Imperfect in practice over the next 100 years, voting rights finally gained protection through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, ensuring that bigotry could never again disenfranchise any U.

It took the War Between the States to make us one nation, indivisible. Before 1861, the United States were loosely tied entities and always described as a plural noun, as in, "The United States are in trade with France. Although the Union stopped Confederate Gen. Lee's Northern invasion, young men's bodies littered the farms and gardens that had turned into a battleground.

Was the preservation of these united states worth the cost in blood? At a memorial for the dead, Lincoln intentionally called on the Union to persevere for a single national ideal: It was also forged in the experience of hunger, disease, blood and death shared for four years by the Union and Confederacy alike.

Tellingly, the tradition of Civil War reenactments began even before the conflict had ended, as returning soldiers recreated battlefield scenes at home to educate the citizenry and pay tribute to their fallen comrades. They become the focus of myth and the anchor of meaning for a whole society.

Ever since, whether big government or small government, whether doves or hawks, black or white, we have all been one thing: