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United States Dominance After Civil War Essay

The American Civil War, also known as the “War Between the States” was a war between the Confederate States and the Union. The Confederacy was composed of eleven states which supported slavery, while the Union was comprised of all free American states and five states bordering the slave states. The American Civil War became one of the most important events that led into the emergence of the United States into world dominance. The development of the American nation as a world leader came after a series of events and wars being won.

The Civil War all throughout was highlighted by the intense social, political and economic conflicts and differences between Northern and Southern States. The war commenced in about 10,000 states and more than 3 million American people have been involved in it. The years between 1861 to 1865, the war has escalated between American states and resulted to the destruction of peace and unity among fellow Americans.

The war made the American nation ironically more oblivious to the concept of freedom and individual rights, given that the civil war was fought on the basis state rights and freedom in America. However, by the end of the Civil War, the American nation took the whole experience as a “new birth of freedom” for the people and the government. And as such, the years following the end of the Civil War marked the start of the American dominance in the international community.

America After the Civil War: Unification, Expansion and Industrialization

Despite the destruction, the death toll, and the chaos that the Civil War has drawn upon the American society, nonetheless, it has become as one of the focal points for world domination for the United States. The separate states which used to be hostile to one another due to their differences, became a single united and strong nation

The end of the war marked the new era of expansionism for the United States of America. Indeed, the start of the 19th century was highlighted by the intensifying of the American expansion. Alongside America’s move to industrialize and urbanize its territory, the American exploration pushed further to the west. In 1803, Louisiana was obtained from the French government; and during the period between 1816 to 1821, a total of six states were added to the American territory. Aside from the westward expansion, in 1865 the American government also took control of eastern states.

This westward and eastward expansion of the United States territory became strategically beneficial to the industrialization in the United States. And as such, the strength of the United States industrialization became one of the strongest points of the United States emergence as a world superpower. Although the industrialization in the United States before the Civil War was largely preempted and minimal due to the political and social conflicts of the time, the end of the war and the emergence of the new American society greatly hastened the industrial development in the United States. And despite the fact that industrialization has been an old trend in other advanced countries such as England, Belgium, France, Germany and Japan, the United States transformation was more profound, developed and powerful.

In addition to United States’ more sophisticated and impressive industrialization, the American government was able to carefully and strategically utilize its unique advantage over its colonies and among those less developed and powerful countries. The American government used its sphere of influence in order to drive economic advantages and power towards them. Moreover, the United States territory, given the vastness of its newly acquired areas and colonies were greatly endowed with raw natural resources that once tapped, can be used to generate a large amount of benefits and profits.

The states acquired by the United States became its focal points of industrialization, modernization and development. Some of these states served as main centers for finance, manufacturing and commerce. Other states were also suitable for agricultural growth and revolution in the transportation sector. In addition to these developments, the wave of immigrants between 1840 to 1860 also strengthened manpower stability in the country.

As such, by the end of this period of expansionism and industrialization, the United States emerged as one of the most successful countries in the world. The American government grew extremely confident of the stability of their economic, political and military strength. In addition, the wide sphere of influence that it was able to establish became one of the assets that qualified United States as one of the strongest country in the world.

Threats to American Power and Leadership

A series of American war involvement has been etched in the world’s history. And as such, each war wherein the American nation has took part in signified a threat against the United States’ dominance. The First and Second World War, though commenced between a large gap that went for years were fought on almost same reasons. Economic imperialism, military conflicts, trade barriers, proliferation of weapons, political rivalries and balance of power were among the main cause of the first and second world wars.

During these wars, the world was divided into two spheres. And of which, both wars were won distinctively by the side that the United States has taken. The victorious emergence of the United States and its allies in these wars has further established its government as one of the strongest leaders in the world. During the Second World War in particular, the victory of the United States, the Soviet Union and their allies became the closest call to the American dominance. At the end of the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as two world leaders, and as such, became the pillars for balance of power.

The end of the Second World War and the emergence of two dominant states resulted to another series of conflicts and hostility. After the Second World War, the Cold War commenced and a series of indirect confrontations took place between the United States and the Soviet bloc. The Cold War served as a proxy war between the two states wherein instead of a direct confrontation, their allies became more involved in the war.

The Cold War became the measure of stability, leadership and influence of the two world superpowers. Political ideology became the main focus of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet bloc. During this period, the American government was largely threatened by the spread of communist ideology within the European states. As such, the antagonism between capitalism and communism became the root of the conflict between the two states.

In addition to this antagonism, nuclear arms race, espionage, economic rivalry and the Cuban missile crisis were among the issues that further intensified the conflict. Despite the absence of direct confrontation between the Americans and the Soviet bloc, the outcome of the Cold War still became one of the most important factor in the emergence of a lone world superpower.

As such, by the end of the Cold War, the Soviet bloc disintegrated and the communist ideology became less influential. Although the American government and its allies were not successful in fully containing the communist ideology, the Soviet disintegration became a step to weaken communist states. In addition, the disintegration of the Soviet bloc marked the end of the Cold War. And the triumphant emergence of the United States in the Cold War automatically rendered the United States as the lone world superpower.

United States in the Present Era

Following the end of the Cold War and the demise of the biggest threat to United States leadership, the American government is now considered as the lone hegemonic power in the world. The establishment of international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Center to name a few, strengthened the American hold on world dominance and leadership.

In the present generation, the most probable threat against the American government is the current proliferation of terrorist organizations posting terrorist activities that might induce chaos and fear amongst the citizens. However, despite these threats and current economic and political dilemma experienced by the American nation, United States still stands as one of the strongest, influential and stable countries in the international community.


A&E Television Networks. “The American Civil War.” (2008). Database on-line. Available from (accessed October 10, 2008).
American Information Resource Center. “History of the United States.” The United States Diplomatic Mission to Poland. (n.d). Database on-line. Available from (accessed October 10, 2008).
Burns, Ken. “The Crossroads of Our Being.” The Civil War. (2002). Database on-line. Available from (accessed October 10, 2008).
Mabry, Donald J. “Triumph of Industry in the United States.” Historical Text Archive. (2008). Database on-line. Available from (accessed October 10, 2008).
Nosotro, Rit. “The Cold War.” HyperHistory. (n.d). Database on-line. Available from (accessed October 10, 2008).

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