How the Civil War Civilized Seattle
AbstractFounded in 1851, Seattle was little more than a rough-and-tumble frontier town at the onset of the Civil War. However, by 1880 the young community had developed into a small, but prosperous city. Not only did the population grow immensely during this time, but the character of the town also changed. By 1880 Seattle was no longer just another western logging town, but rather a civilized metropolitan center. Although the rapid development of Seattle is widely accepted, the connection between it and the Civil War has not been reported. Historical data suggest that the Civil War did influence the development of Seattle. The Civil War caused Seattle’s population to grow through recruitment of unemployed war widows and orphans. These recruits brought New England culture to Seattle, which served as a civilizing force. The Civil War also led to policies that helped Seattle develop in other ways. The Morrill Act led town fathers to establish their own territorial university in Seattle. It was a bold move that would shape Seattle for decades. The Federal Government’s support of the Northern Pacific Railroad led Seattleites to seek their own railroad. Likewise, telegraph technology, another Civil War priority, turned the remote settlement of Seattle into a well-connected town, able to communicate efficiently and reliably with the rest of the country. Similarly, Seattle’s first newspaper, which was established to report Civil War news, helped to keep the residents of Seattle informed about and connected with the Union. These war-related developments along with war-induced immigration make it clear that Civil War helped civilize Seattle.
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