An Avoidable Civil War Essay

This essay has a total of 1162 words and 5 pages.

An Avoidable Civil War

An Avoidable Civil War

The explosion of the American Civil War was caused by a vast number of conflicting
principles and prejudices, fueled by sectional differences, and set afire by a very
unfortunate set of political events. Undoubtedly, the central theme of almost all of the
events that led up to the Civil War was one way or another, related to the dispute of
slavery. Throughout the nineteenth century, slavery-related tensions brewed to such an
extent, that politicians often took accustom to avoiding the hot topic altogether, because
they were too scared of either starting a big political feud, or losing votes from one
side of the issue or the other. More specifically, three events that were most
instrumental in bringing about the Civil War were the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the
Presidential election of 1860. Because of such strong reactions to these events, the Civil
War was practically unstoppable, however if the parties wanted to avoid a war altogether,
they could have advocated more compromise and popular sovereignty.

As previously mentioned, slavery was at the root of most tensions that arose between the
North and the South, and the annexation of new land created much conflict concerning the
status of slavery. Missouri Compromise dictated that the lands of the Louisiana Purchase
north of the 36¢ª30¡¯ parallel were to be free of slavery. Democratic senator Douglas,
introduced a bill in early 1854 which proposed the division of the Nebraska Territory into
two units, Kansas and Nebraska, and the application of his idea of ¡°popular
sovereignty¡± which would allow the territorial vote to decide the area¡¯s status
concerning slavery. This proposal would, in effect, repeal the Missouri Compromise, which
greatly angered abolitionists and Northerners. Douglas and Southern supporters won a
congressional debate and shortly after, the bill was signed. With the passage of this
bill, many conflicts arose. Much personal turmoil erupted in the territories with almost
immediate tragic results in ¡°Bleeding Kansas.¡± Also, the bill resulted in a complete
realignment of the major political parties: The Democrats lost influence in the North and
were to become the regional proslavery party of the South, the Whig Party, which had
opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, died in the South and was weakened in the North, and a
new Republican Party emerged as an immediate political force, drawing in anti-Nebraska
Whigs and Democrats. As political issues became more specialized and regional-based, these
changes in political structure greatly increased conflicts regarding slavery, creating
major factors leading to an inevitable Civil War. If the parties involved wanted to avoid
a war, the smartest move would have been to shoot down the bill initially. Douglas and the
South should have approached the issue more subtly. Douglas could have introduced a
compromise with the North, in exchange with the intentions of applying popular sovereignty
in the areas. Even though it reinforces true democracy, introducing popular sovereignty
contradicts the provisions of the Missouri Compromise which would only create more
political drama. A bill that was intended to repeal an important slavery-related
compromise would do nothing but destroy all stability between the political parties.

The Missouri Compromise left much ambiguity regarding specific cases, so the rulings of
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