Causes of the Civil War essay
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The Civil War lasted between 1861 and 1865 and it resulted to more than 618,000 casualties. However, the causes of Civil War can be traced back to tensions that were created early in the history of the nation. Mainly, the war between the sates was caused by social and economic differences between the South and the North, federal rights versus the state, the differences between slave and non-slave state proponents, growth of the abolition movement, and the election of Abraham Lincoln (Calore 2008, 5).
In accordance with Calore (2008) cotton became very profitable in 1793 following the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney. As a matter of fact, this machine greatly minimised the time used to separate seeds from cotton. Nevertheless, the number of plantation farmers willing to move from growing other crops to growing cotton increased leading to increased demand for large amount of cheap labor (slaves). Therefore, the economy of the south became a single crop economy that depended mainly on cotton and thus increased dependence on slavery (8).
On the other hand, the economy of the North was mainly based on industry rather than agriculture. Actually, the industries in the North purchased cotton from Southern farmers and converted it into finished products. This disparity between the North and the South set up a major economic difference. Basically, the North was based on city life while the South focused on the plantation system. This implied that the northern society evolved as people from different classes and cultures worked together. In contrast, the Southern people continued to hold onto an outdated social order. However, by the early 1800s, factories from the North were producing goods similar to those of the South and Northern politicians were in a position to pass heavy taxes on Southerner's goods so that people would prefer goods from the North. Consequently, these taxes really annoyed the Southerners (Wendy 2009, 11).
However, since the revolution time, two different camps emerged. One camp argued for greater state rights while the other camp argued that the federal government was supposed to have more control. After the American Revolution, the first organized government in the United States was under the articles of confederation. In fact, the thirteen sates created a loose confederation with a federal government that was very weak. Nonetheless, when problems started, the federal government's weakness caused the leaders to gather at the Constitutional Convention and form the US Constitution secretly (Mountjoy & McNeese 2009, 14).
Apparently, strong proponents of state rights such as Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson were absent from this meeting. In addition, most people felt that the newly formulated constitution had not considered the rights of sates to go on acting independently. Moreover, they felt that the states ought to have the right to determine whether they had intentions of accepting certain federal acts or not. As a result, the notion of nullification came up; whereby the various states would have the right to declare federal acts as unconstitutional. Generally, the federal government had denied states this right. However, proponents like John C. Calhoun fought fervently for nullification. When nullification failed and sates felt that they had lost their respect, they resulted to secession (Mountjoy & McNeese 2009 45).
According to Mountjoy & McNeese (2009) following the expansion of America due to the lands obtained from the Louisiana Purchase and with the Mexican war, the issue of whether new states agreed to the union would be free or slave. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise made a rule that forbid slavery in states form the initial Louisiana Purchase 30 minutes latitude 36 degrees north with an exception of Missouri. However, during the Mexican War, conflict emerged about the new territories that the United States expected to get upon victory. In 1846, David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso which would prohibit slavery in the newly acquired lands. Nevertheless, this was shot down for further debate. The 1850 Compromise was formed by Henry Clay and others to handle the balance between free states and slave, southern and northern interests.
One among the many provisions was the fugitive slave act initially discussed. Also, the 1854 Kansa-Nebraska Act further increased tensions (28). In fact, it formed two new territories that would enable the states to utilise popular rule to determine whether they would be slave or free. In line with Mountjoy & McNeese (2009) the main issue took place in Kansas where proslavery Missourians started to pour into the state to assist force slavery. They were referred to as "Border Ruffinas". Fighting immense violence broke out in Lawrence Kansas which was later referred to as Bleeding Kansas. Surprisingly, the violence erupted on the senate floor when Charles Sumner antislavery proponent was beat over head by Preston Brooks the Senator of South Carolina at the time (71).
As time went by, the people of the north became more polarized against slavery. As a matter of fact, sympathies started growing against slaveholder and slavery, and for abolitionists. This took place particularly after some major events which included the Dred Scott Case, the fugitive slave act passage, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin publishing and John Brown's Raid that held people responsible for hiding fugitive slaves even in cases where the slaves were situated in non-slave states. Even though matters were already coming to an end in 1860 when Lincoln was elected, South Carolina issued the declaration of the causes of secession. The people believed that Lincoln was in favor of Northern interests as well as anti-slavery. Prior to Lincoln's presidency, seven sates including Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana had seceded from the union (Wendy 2009, 16).