The American Civil War lasted four years. More than 600,000 soldiers were killed, flourishing cities razed to the ground, and entire regions devastated. A high price, but there was also a lot at stake: the unity of the country and the abolition of slavery.
The independence of the USA
In 1773 there was unrest in the British colonies of North America. The population rebelled against taxes that were to be imposed on them by the government in London. The protest turned into a fight for civil liberty.
On 4 July 1776, the 13 North American colonies declared their independence and founded the United States of America – the date is still celebrated in the USA today as “Independence Day”. The British sent troops to put a military end to the uprising. The struggle for freedom raged for seven years, during which the British finally lost.
In 1788 the Constitution of the United States of America came into force. A nation was created whose constitution granted sovereignty to the individual states. Also the decision for or against slavery was up to the states.
Lured by the dream of great happiness, numerous immigrants reached the USA. By the middle of the 19th century, the United States had become a world power, but within its borders it was beginning to go through a crisis.
Slavery – yes or no?
In the northern states lived 20 million inhabitants, in the south almost seven million. The people in the North were progressive, while in the South they thought conservatively. The North had developed into a booming industrial conurbation, the South was agricultural.
The rich landowners in the South earned their money primarily through the cultivation and export of cotton. However, they could only run the huge farms profitably because they had cheap labour.
Almost four million black slaves had to work in the cotton fields. In the North, slavery had been abolished and had followed the example of the modern world.
With great political pressure the North wanted to get the South to abolish slavery as well. But the renunciation of slave labour would have plunged the farmers of the South into an economic fiasco.
Lincoln’s inauguration as president
In the US Senate there were fierce debates about the slave question. In the South, voices were raised calling for secession from the Union. The conflict was also fuelled by the upcoming presidential elections. Abraham Lincoln was one of the most promising candidates and an opponent of slavery.
When Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States in November 1860, political consequences were immediately drawn in the South. Still in December South Carolina declared its withdrawal from the Confederation.
In February 1861 the representatives of six slave states met and decided to form the “Confederate States of America”. Five more states joined this confederation shortly afterwards.
The beginning of the war
Richmond (Virginia) became the capital of the Confederacy and Jefferson Davis was appointed President. The breakaway states drafted a constitution that in most respects corresponded to that of the Union. However, the ownership of slaves was explicitly put under protection.
In the south, they began to expropriate federal property, including military installations. The Unionist occupation of Fort Sumter, a fortress in the port of Charleston, South Carolina, resisted the transfer to the South.
On April 12, 1861, Southern troops took the fort under artillery fire. This military action was the prelude to the bloodiest conflict on American soil to this day.
After the surrender of Fort Sumter, Abraham Lincoln raised an army of 75,000 volunteers and advanced toward the south. He had hopes of bringing the rebels to their knees with a swift victory. But the South was prepared for a military confrontation.
The Confederates not only had highly motivated troops, but also better trained officers. Therefore the Southern Army was able to win the first battles of the civil war. But the tide soon turned in favour of the North.
Technology as a decisive factor
After the first lost battles Lincoln had set his war machine in motion. New recruits were constantly being trained and brought to the front. In addition, the powerful armaments industry of the north supplied the troops with supplies and new weapons. The railway proved to be an extremely important means of transport.
Soon the South was no longer able to compete with the technical advantage of the North. In addition, the Confederates were cut off from supplies by a sea blockade.
After the Union troops had also taken control of the Mississippi, another important supply artery of the South, the defeat of the Confederates was inevitable. July 1863 brought a decisive victory for the North with the Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania).
The War of Annihilation
The longer the war raged, the harder and more relentlessly the fighting became. The fight man against man had turned into an iron war, in which the most modern technology was used.
To gain control of the Mississippi, both sides developed armored gunboats. Precursors of submarines were also used. Victims among the civilian population were also deliberately accepted.
On their advance through southern territory, troops from the northern states cut a nearly 100-kilometer-wide swath of devastation. People and livestock were killed, farms set on fire, cities like Atlanta and Charleston destroyed.
The American Civil War had become a war of annihilation waged by all means.
The end and the consequences
The south was finally bled dry. The last decisive battle was fought for the Confederate capital. The commander-in-chief of the Union forces, General Ulysses S. Grant, had fought his way to Richmond with his troops and besieged the city.
General Robert Edward Lee, commander in chief of the Southern Army, decided to surrender on April 9, 1865. This officially ended the war. In the end, 600,000 people had lost their lives, tens of thousands were maimed. The economic damage caused by the destruction was enormous.
Lincoln, re-elected president in 1864, had saved the Union. But he had not conquered the hatred between the North and South. He died on April 15th, 1865 by the bullets of a fanatical Southerner.
Lincoln’s goal to enforce the abolition of slavery in all states of the Union was realized shortly after his death.
It took until well into the 1870s for the Southern states to recover economically from the consequences of the war and to be re-integrated into the Union on an equal footing socially and politically.
The Ku Klux Klan formed shortly after the war. Members of this racist secret society took action after the end of the war against entrepreneurs from the North who were said to want to profit from the defeat of the South.
The clan also hunted down former slaves who had been given political offices in the South. Even today there is a noticeable gap between the North and the South.
How much damage can a 6 year-old possibly do? An analysis of the cost of raising a child like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes
Note: This article has one or more associated corrections. Please click the following links for more details: HTML PDF
UPDATE: Our estimates have now been adjusted for inflation. Please click any of these words for the details.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child from start to age 17 costs, for those in the middle-income groups, anywhere from $226,800 to $264,600 total. These costs include housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education, and other miscellaneous items (such as entertainment, personal care, and reading materials.) Missing from this estimate is an explicit approximation of the amount of damage that children can cause (here, damage refers to that of the break-a-window physical kind, not that of the mommy-and-daddy-need-a-therapist emotional kind). Such an estimate would increase the accuracy of the USDA’s estimate and the budgets of new parents, depending on how destructive they project their child to be.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no estimate on the physical damage that the average child causes in one year. In fact, such a dataset does not currently exist, unless some vindictive parent has carefully documented and blogged their child’s every destructive event. While this kind of information is likely not available for actual children, fake (i.e. fictional) children have their lives, by definition, carefully documented. Thus, we may be able to look to any number of fictional children to obtain some estimate on the amount of physical damage they can cause.
Perhaps no other child has caused more damage than Calvin of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Calvin is a 6 year-old boy, probably from Chagrin Falls, OH (Watterson’s rumored current residence), with a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. He has an extraordinarily active imagination, which gives life to Hobbes, and is the impetus for Calvin to destroy everything from dishes and lamps to binoculars and garage doors. His life was chronicled in Watterson’s comic strips for 10 years between 1985 and 1995. The goal of this paper is to determine the total cost incurred by Calvin during his comic strip reign, with the rationale that Calvin represents the worst-case scenario in terms of the amount of damage a child can do.
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is a four-volume set containing every published comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes in chronological order. I started with November 18, 1985 (the first comic) and determined every instance in which either Calvin (or Hobbes) caused any type of physical damage or it was mentioned that Calvin had caused some damage. For every event, I recorded the date of the strip and the type of damage caused (i.e., if it was a specific item, or was property damage) with a brief description of the circumstances leading to the damage. There had to be an explicit depiction or mention of physical damage in order for the event to be recorded. Thus, any damage possibly resulting from episodes like “the noodle incident” (or its predecessor, “the salamander incident”) were not counted.
To estimate the cost from damaged goods, I searched amazon.com for comparable items, with some exceptions (e.g., Calvin’s Mom seems somewhat fashionable, so when Calvin placed an incontinent toad on her sweater, I looked for a replacement on jcrew.com). To estimate cost for property damage, I used homewyse.com and fixr.com (using the zip code for Chagrin Falls, OH). In the few instances in which a monetary value was given in the comic, I used that value.
Results and Discussion
In total, Calvin caused an estimated $15,955.50 worth of damage over the duration of the comic strip (Figure 1). Damage ranged from a broken glass jar ($2 from amazon.com) to a flooded house ($4,798.83 from homewyse.com). Taking into account Watterson’s sabbaticals (see Figure 1) and the November start to the comics, Calvin caused $1,850.55 of damage per year. For context, the USDA estimates that middle-income families spend an estimated $1,750 per year on child care and education for 6 year-olds. In fact, the amount of damage caused by Calvin would rank 4th out of the USDA’s categories in annual expenditures, behind Housing, Food, and Transportation, and ahead of Education, Miscellaneous, Health Care, and Clothing. However, it should be reiterated that Calvin is presented as a worst-case scenario. If you believe your child does more than $1,850.55 in damage annually, then you may want to consider professional help, alternative forms of punishment, or, at the very least, take away their stuffed tiger.
Figure 1 also clearly shows that Calvin’s destructive behavior decreased steadily over the course of the comic strip. In fact, over half (56.4% to be more exact) of the total damage incurred by Calvin occurred within the first year of the strip’s existence. This might indicate that a troublesome child may become less destructive over time. Yet, time is a tricky property in this comic: Calvin never ages, but clearly goes through seasonal cycles. More likely, this trend is a result of character development. In early strips, Watterson emphasizes Calvin’s destructive behavior to establish Calvin as a mischievous child. Freed from the constraints of defining characters, Watterson later focuses on more complex situations, such as the various uses of a cardboard box, elementary school exploits, snow sculpture-art metaphors, and waxing philosophically on sleds and wagons. Thus, you probably shouldn’t use Figure 1 as a justification that your child will outgrow his or her Calvin-like behavior.
While Calvin caused damage in every month (Table 1), he did the most damage in January, February, and August (at a combined $11,585.83). Increased damage during these months may possibly be a reaction to the injustice of going back to school after a long break (Winter and Summer vacations). If so, then it is clear that schools should abolish these breaks; money saved from the lack of physical damage can cover the increased tuition costs.
If your little bundle of joy grows up to be a Tasmanian devil of terror, you can expect to pay almost two grand extra per year just in replacing or repairing items. Now, this figure isn’t expected to dissuade prospective parents into having children; in fact, I would question one’s parental ability if an extra $2,000 per year convinces them to not have kids. Instead, it’s meant as an addition to the USDA’s estimate of the cost of raising a child (although even the most meticulously planned budgets are annihilated the minute you bring a baby home). In parenting, you have to take the bad with the good. With a kid like Calvin, it’s probably mostly bad. But even raising a Calvin has its good moments (like here), which are well worth the extra $1,850 a year.
 Calvin and Hobbes uses a floating timeline, meaning that Calvin and the other characters age very little, if at all, throughout the duration of the strip. In other words, Calvin is always 6 years old.
 No cause is ever given here, but we see Calvin calling his Father from a stepladder within the flooded house. Incidentally, his punishment for this stunt was no dessert. Needless to say, Calvin will go on to flood other parts of the house on 4 more separate occasions.