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A Critical Analysis of the Causes of the Civil War of 1861

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What led us to the Civil War of 1861? Was it all about slavery? To understand this, we need to go back when the United States of America was created. Throughout all of American history, there has been great division in our political parties, which Ironically is the very thing George Washington warned us about in his farwell address. George Washington warned of “the baneful effects of the spirit of party” in his farewell address. Washington feared the unity will lie in the party and not in the nation. George Washington was quoted saying this in his farewell address: “In governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, certainly, there will always be enough to that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume”.

The pattern of crisis was clear as it shared the common attributes which are war starting the conflict, weak governmental leadership, poor governing decisions, the feeling of distance between the government and the people, Active opposition to the government, new political voices, explosive political voices, explosive political writing, s significant change in communication, economic distress, explosive event plus controversial government reaction plus galvanized opposition, blood in the streets, and a unforeseen trigger event propelling government actions that lead to more tension.

Slavery had a big part to play in the civil war, but it was not the only reason. With this being said slavery was always a problem in the United States. When the constitution was written it had laws against slavery, but it was later taken out of the final draft as all of the states needed to agree to constitution. It was said that the decision to remove references to slavery was political necessity. They thought it to be better to remove the section dealing with slavery than risk a long debate over the issue. They needed the support for independence from the southern states. Slavery was always an issue and they didn’t have the time to deal with it. They decide to set it aside and come back to it at a later date and time as they had more pressing issues at the time.

The road to the civil war ends up in discussions of states’ rights to slavery and differing economic systems. Specifically, whether or not those economic systems ought to involve slavery, and also the election of Abraham Lincoln. Specifically, how his election wedged slavery, however none of these things would have been problems without slavery. The most disputed section of the compromise of 1850, the fugitive slave law. With this new law, any citizen was required to turn in anyone he or she knew to be a slave to authorities. Which created every person in new England into a sheriff, and it additionally required them to enforce a law they found repulsive. Additionally, this law affects the folks of color in the North, because even if you’d been born free in Massachusetts, the courts might send you into slavery if even one person swore before a judge that you simply were a particular slave. And lots of individuals of color responded to the fugitive slave law by moving to Canada, that at the time was still technically an English colony, thereby additional problematizing the total concept that England was all about tyranny and the united states was all about freedom. But anyway, the foremost important results of the fugitive slave law was that it convinced some Northerners that the government was within the hands of a sinister “slave power.” A conspiracy theory about a secret cabal of pro-slavery congressmen. That conspiracy theory is going to grow in importance.

Railroads created shipping cheaper and a lot more efficient and allowed folks to move around the country quickly. And they had an enormous backer within the form of Illinois congressman Sir Leslie Stephen Douglas, who wanted a transcontinental railroad because he felt it might bind the union together at a time when it could use some binding, and he figured it would go through Illinois, which might be good for his home state. However, there was a problem: to make a railroad, the territory through that it ran required to be organized, ideally as states, and if the railroad was aiming to run through Illinois, then the Kansas and Nebraska territories would need to become states. So, Douglas suggested the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act formalized the concept of popular sovereignty, that meant that white residents of states may decide for themselves whether or not the state ought to permit slavery. Douglas felt this was a pleasant means of avoiding saying whether or not he favored slavery; instead, he could simply be in favor of letting people be in favor of it. Previously bartered Missouri compromise prohibited slavery in new states north of this here line. And since in theory Kansas or Nebraska may have slavery if folks there determined they wished it underneath the Kansas-Nebraska Act despite being north of that their line, this in practice repealed the Missouri Compromise. As a result, there was quite a heap of violence in Kansas, most so that some folks say the civil war really started there in 1857. Also, the Kansas Nebraska Act led to the creation of a brand new political party: The Republicans.

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So, Douglas’s law helped to form a brand new coalition party dedicated to stopping the extension of slavery. It had been made from former free-soilers, northern anti-slavery whigs and a few know-nothings. It had been also a completely sectional party, which means that it drew supporters nearly completely from the free states within the North and West were tied together by common economic interests, and also the railroad. And now we come back at last to “slave power.” For several northerners, the Kansas Nebraska Act that repealed the Missouri compromise, was yet more proof that Congress was controlled by a sinister “slave power” cluster doing the bidding of wealthy plantation owners. By 1854, the North was much more populous than the South; it had nearly double the South’s congressional representation however in spite of this advantage, Congress had simply passed a law extending the power of slave states, and potentially as a result of two new states meant four new senators creating the federal government even more pro-slavery. And to abolitionists, that didn’t appear to be democracy. The other reason that a lot of northerners cared was that having them become slave states was seen as a threat to northerner’s economic self-interest. The west was seen as an area where specifically white people may become self-sustaining farmers. As Lincoln wrote: “The whole nation is interested that the most effective use be manufactured from these territories. we would like them for the homes of free White race. they can’t be, to any significant extent, if slavery is planted inside them. New Free States are places for poor folks to travel to and higher their condition”. So, the real question was: would these western territories have massive slave-based plantations like happened in Mississippi? Therefore, the new republican party ran its initial presidential candidate in 1856 and did remarkably well. John C. John C. Fremont from California picked up 39th of the vote, all of it from the North and West, and lost to the Democrat James Buchanan, who had the virtue of getting spent much of the previous decade in Europe and therefore not having a position on slavery.

Meanwhile, Kansas was attempting to become a state by holding elections in 1854 and 1855. The reason I say attempting is because these elections were dishonest. Part of the Kansas drawback was that hundreds of so called border ruffians flocked to Kansas from pro-slavery Missouri to cast ballots in Kansas elections, that led to people coming in from the northern states to cast their ballets to make it a free state. Fighting eventually broke out and over 200 people were killed. In fact, in 1856, pro-slavery forces ordered siege to anti-slavery lawrence, Kansas with cannons. In the end Kansas passed two constitutions. The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution went to the U.S. Congress and it had been supported by Stephen Douglas as an example of common sovereignty at work, except that the person who oversaw the balloting in Kansas referred to as it a “vile fraud.” Congress delayed Kansas’ entry into the Union until another, more honest vote occurred. And subsequently vote, Kansas eventually did join the U.S. as a free state in 1861, by which time it had been honestly too late. While all this was happening in Kansas and Congress, the Supreme Court was busy rendering the worst call in its history.

Dred Scott had been a slave whose master had taken him to live in Illinois and Wisconsin, each of which barred slavery. So, Scott sued, his argument was that if slavery was outlawed in Illinois, then living in Illinois created him definitionally not a slave. The case ended up being many years until it went to the Supreme Court and eventually, in 1857, chief justice Roger B. Taney, from Maryland, handed down his decision. The Court held that Scott was still a slave, however it went even more, trying to settle the slavery issue once and for all. Taney ruled that “black individuals had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit”. Taney’s ruling primarily said that every black individual anyplace within the united states might be thought of property, which the court was within the business of protecting that property. This meant an owner may take his slaves from Mississippi to Massachusetts and that they would still be slaves. That meant that technically, there was no such thing as a free state. At least that’s how folks in the north, particularly Republicans saw it. The Dred Scott case helped persuade even more of those who are in the government, Congress, President, and currently the Supreme Court, were within the hands of the awful “Slave Power.”

In 1859, john brown led a disastrous raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, hoping to capture guns and then provide them to the salve. Who he thought would rise and use those guns against their masters. But Brown was a horrible military commander, and the raid was an abject failure. Several of the party were killed and he was captured. He stood trial and was sentenced to be hung. On the morning of his hanging, he wrote: “I, John Brown, am currently quite sure that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood”. And, so the stage was set for one of the most necessary Presidential elections in American history. In 1860, the party chose as its candidate Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lost that election, however the debates made him famous, and he might appeal to immigrant voters, The Democrats, on the opposite hand, were a mess. The Northern wing of the party favored Stephen Douglas; however, he was unacceptable to voters within the deep south. Therefore, Southern Democrats appointed John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, creating the Democrats, the last remaining actually national party, no longer truly a national party. A third party, the Constitutional Union Party appointed John Bell of Tennessee, they wanted to preserve the Constitution as it was meaning keeping slavery the way it was. President Abraham Lincoln received zero votes in nine American states. However, he won 400th of the popular vote, including majorities in several of the most inhabited states, thereby winning the electoral college. So, anytime a man becomes President who failed to appear on your ballot, there’s probably going to be a problem. And indeed, Lincoln’s election led to many Southern states seceding from the Union. Lincoln himself despised slavery, however he repeatedly said that he would leave it alone within the states where it existed. However, the demographics of Lincoln’s election showed Southerners and Northerners alike that slave power to whatever extent it had existed, was over. By the time he took office on March first, 1861, seven states had seceded and formed the confederate states of America. And therefore, the stage was set for the fighting to start, and that it did, once Southern troops fired upon the Union garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor on April twelfth, 1861. So, that’s when the civil war started, however it became inevitable earlier, perhaps in 1857, or maybe in 1850, or even in 1776.

A Republic is defined as “A state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them” (by Dictionary.com). In order to understand what it means to live in a Republic we need to ask why the government was built as a Republic. The American people where fed up with the monarchy they had just left, and it was clear to them the flaws. The founding fathers knew people could not handle an absolute democracy meaning every person would have to vote on every little decision made within the government. With this as well as the founding fathers wanting to keep a lot of the power with the people they created a Republic which over time has giving people the locke freedom without a strict government watching over them all the time as well as a Hobbes government where the central government has power over the states and as the ability for example to handle tasks without needed everyone in the country to vote. This is all kept in check the citizens voting for people who have their best interests in mind.

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