Table of contents
- What Cause the Civil War?
- Slavery Resulting In Conflicts within America
- Three Major Events that Caused the American Civil War
What Cause the Civil War?
The American Civil War was a result of differences between the north and south to maintain their way of life, as most historians have argued. I plan to show how abolishing slavery, and economic differences between the regions played equal roles in the cause of the American Civil War.
The American Civil War was a very important war that helped shape and mold the United States into the country it is today. Even though we still have some problems that haven’t completely healed from the war, this is still one of the greatest countries in the world. Over the years, several reasons were given for the issue of why this war was fought. The issues range from controlling land, to economics, but more often you hear it was mainly about slavery. The American Civil War of 1861-1865 was fought between the southern states (The Confederates) and the northern states (The Union). Although the states were united as America, there were many differences between the northern and southern states. The North was industrializing and working on expanding west, while the South was a large farming industry and its famous cash crop, which was cotton, was one of the largest exports in America. Most northern citizens also view slavery as an immoral practice, while the south looked at it as a way of life. With both the North and the South fearing that their way of life would collapse with the existence of the other, the American Civil War was fought.
Slaves began to be imported to North America in the 1600s and steadily increased until the middle of the 1700s. At the time the Declaration of Independence passed in 1776 there were thousands of African American slaves in North America. (Martinez 2012) Southern states embraced this practice and it was embedded in their economic system. By the late 1850s, the United States accounted for a full 77 percent of the 800 million pounds of cotton consumed in Britain, 90 percent of the 192 million pounds used in France, 60 percent of the 115 million pounds spun in the German Zollverein, and as much as 92 percent of the 102 million pounds manufactured in Russia. ( Beckert 2004) In order to produce these large amounts of cotton, the southern states depended heavily on slave labor. Although the south was a major exporter of cotton, it still had to rely on the north and overseas imports for its manufacturing goods.
Due to the climate in most northern states, this area of the country was not suitable for farming. The North relied heavily on manufacturing, where they took crops and raw materials and converted them into something more valuable. Immigrants were recruited to work in factories; therefore, slavery was not needed. Also, most northerners believed that the practice of slavery was immoral and was already banned from several northern states. To demolish competition from the imported goods from overseas, the northerners demanded high tariffs on the imported goods so that more people will buy the manufactured goods from the North instead of the now more expensive imported goods from overseas. The manufacturing industry and exports overseas meant that cities were growing in the north and city life was becoming the norm in northern society. Since the North and South had so many differences and could not keep a steady compromise, heavy tension between the North and the South constantly grew. The southern states seceded from the North and created their own self-government due to their belief in the lack of state rights versus the federal government's rule of law. When selected to be the candidate for United States Senator for Illinois, Abraham Lincoln gave the “House Divided” speech to the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois on June 17, 1853. In this speech he stated, 'A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”(Lincoln 1858) In the statement, Lincoln expressed his concern that if the United States remained divided, the United States could lose its way of life, and slavery for all states could be forthcoming.
Slavery Resulting In Conflicts within America
Ownership of human beings as property became a popular culture in America during the 19th century. African-Americans were the subjects of enslavement, providing inexpensive labor to white farms and fabrications. Besides, they were being mistreated, experiencing all forms of human exploitation. Whipping was not exceptional as a kind of punishment. However, on 12th April 1861 conflicts ruptured within American states, slavery being one of the reasons behind such. This paper describes how slavery led to the emergence of the civil war in America, with Northern and Southern states being the parties involved in the disputes.
First, conflicts in 1861 began after states such as Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi among others, withdrew their membership from Union. All the states had their own stand, put in writing, as to why they made such decisions. Georgia emphasized slavery, stating their unwillingness to be governed by an anti-slavery government. Mississippi on the other hand followed different steps stating, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery.” They were worried about losing their slaves. South Carolina was supporting the ideology of slave abolishment (Vornberg, 2001). The indifferences thus began creating an atmosphere of tension leaving no option for each state but to defend their stand with all means.
Secondly, according to Freehling (1994), Abraham Lincoln was ever on the frontline to address the grievances of slaves. While at Gettysburg, Lincoln argued that all acts that exploited African Americans in the name of the benefiting American economy were going against the will of previous American freedom fighters. Besides, those acts were infringing on human rights and promoting inequality. However, President Lincoln was attacked by print media, backing up Will’s claims, “how dare he, then stands on soldier’s graves, misstate the cause for which they died…,” It became evident opposition to Lincoln’s governing style just to support human exploitation. The different mechanisms had to be applied to liberate African Americans from slavery.
Slavery being numerically higher in the southern states compared to northern parts, an expansion of this institution was being advocated for by southern parts, while northern parts were striving for cessation of such institutions. The same year, a disturbing conflict emerged when William Lloyd Garrison formed the American Anti-Slavery Society in the northern parts as a way of influencing followers toward fighting for the abolishment of slavery. This movement was embraced and continuously grew in size each day; church leaders such as Lyman Beecher, Nathaniel Taylor, and Charles G. Finney backed up the ideology. On the other hand, the American constitution adopted enslavement as the basic requirement for its development, further creating agitation. The two parties were no longer sharing a common interest and the whole idea became politicized only to address the economic problems of America (Reynolds, 2009).
With the above illustrations, this paper has described how slavery led to the emergence of civil war in America, with Northern and Southern parts being the parties involved in the conflicts. Southern states valued slaves, as it was their major economical source of development i.e. cheap labor for cotton production and tobacco exportation. Striving for its expansion all over the newly established states was the only way to keep their destiny. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln alongside other leaders was on the frontline in ensuring no more slavery in America. This made south states feel they were being neglected and being killed politically leaving them with no option but to rebel against such acts. Definitely, the civil war ruptured in 1861 for American Revolution (Daly, 2002).
Three Major Events that Caused the American Civil War
Although the American Civil War was a war fought between brothers, it is still thought of as being one of the bloodiest wars in American history. Ever since slavery was brought to the American Colonies there has been controversy over whether slavery should exist or not. It is because of this that the American Civil War always shares conversations with slavery. These events are what led to the splitting of a nation and what caused brothers to spill blood of their own.
The first major event that led to the civil war was the introduction of slavery to the British Colonies around the early 17th century before the American Revolution. “The British colony of Georgia actually banned slavery from 1735 to 1750, although it remained legal in the other 12 colonies” (Trust 1). There were already controversies over slavery before America even separated from Britain. This may lead a person to believe that the American Civil War was inevitable due to slavery being one of the foundation blocks of the country.
The second major event was John Brown’s raid in 1859. “John Brown was tried for murder, treason, and insurrection on the Jefferson County courthouse at Charles Town, convicted November 2, 1859, and hanged there a month later” (Encyclopedia 1). Although what John Brown did may have been against the law, the North stated that his actions were for a just cause and were infuriated when he was hanged. The south was infuriated for the opposite reason: John Brown had violated the rights of the southern states to own slaves. This event in American History further divided the Northern and Southern states.
The third major event was the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the Battle of Fort Sumter in 1861. “On April 12, 1861, forces from the Confederate States of America attacked the United States military garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Less than two days later, the fort surrendered. Only one U.S. soldier lost his life” (Geographic 1). When the confederate states decided to attack the Northern-Owned Fort Sumter, the Civil War officially began. The Northern states were sending in supplies necessary for life, so the Southern states had no reason to attack the fort, but they did so anyway.
These three major events are what led the United States of America to tear itself apart. There are many arguments that the American Civil War could have been avoided. Realistically thinking, there was no way to avoid this conflict between the Free states and the Slave States. It is quite ironic how the greedy nature of mankind led to the splitting apart of a nation founded under God.
Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States on March 4, 1861. In his first inaugural address, he stated, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them.” (Lincoln 1961) Although Lincoln made these comments, many southern states still feared that they were going to lose their right to self-govern. In this belief, the Confederate states acted against the Union. On April 12, 1861, near Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Sumter was attacked by the South Carolina militia, which sparked the beginning of the American Civil War.
During the war, Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley. In this letter, Lincoln stated, “The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be 'the Union as it was.' If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” (Lincoln 1862) In this letter, Lincoln expressed his concern was to saving the Union as it was. Because of the economic and resource advantage that the Union had over the Confederates, the north won the war. The Battle of Palmito Ranch is considered to be the final battle of the American Civil War. It was fought May 12 and 13, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas.
- Daly, J. P. (2002). When slavery was called freedom: evangelicalism, proslavery, and the causes of Civil War. University Press of Kentucky.
- Freehling, W., & Freehing, W. W. (1994). The reintegration of American History: Slavery and civil war. Oxford University Press on Demand.
- Reynolds, D. S. (2009). John Brown, abolitionist: the man who killed slavery, sparked the Civil War, and seeded civil rights. Vintage.
- Vornberg, M. (2001). Final freedom: The civil war, the abolition of slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Cambridge University Press.
- “Trigger Events of the Civil War.” American Battlefield Trust, 1 May 2019, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/trigger-events-civil-war.
- “John Brown.” Encyclopedia, https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/668.
- National Geographic Society. “Battle of Fort Sumter.” National Geographic Society, 24 Mar. 2014, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/thisday/apr12/battle-fort-sumter/