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Causes of the Civil War
CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
I. Introduction to Civil War
The American Civil War was a war fought within the United States of America between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy) starting from 1861 and ending in 1865. This war was one of the most destructive events in American history, costing more than 600,000 lives. It was thought to be one that helped shape the character of the American individual today. From the Southern point of view, this war was a War of Rebellion, or a War for Southern Independence. From the Northern point of view this war was seen as a revolution. This unfortunate war started as a result of many years of differences between the Union and the Confederacy. It erupted after many years of conflict building up between the two regions. Between the North and the South there lay deep economic, social and political differences, but it is important to understand that Slavery was the root of cause of these differences.
II. Social Causes
There were many factors that contributed to the onset of the Civil War. Socially, the North and the South were built on different standards. The South, or the Slave States, was a slave-based community that followed a class-based system. This system consisted of aristocracy, middle class and then slavery. Many depended on slaves and were accustomed to this way of life, which was hard to change. Plantation owners had slaves working for them, and those who could not afford to own slaves would work on their own farm. The North, or Free States, had more immigrants settling in its areas, where labour was needed, but not the labour of slaves. Therefore it had a more industrialized society where most people worked in factories, and did not follow a class system. The Northerners opposed to Slavery as an institution in the South, as the Confederate States were the only region in the world that still legalized the ownership of slaves. This angered the Southerners and threatened their way of life. The election of Abraham Lincoln, as president was viewed by the South as a threat to slavery.
III. Economic Causes
By time, economic differences also developed between the two regions. The Southern states were agrarian states, and depended on agriculture rather than industrialization. After the Cotton Gin was invented, it increased the need for slaves and made cotton the chief crop of the South. The South was able to produce 7/8 of the world’s supply of cotton. This increased the South's dependence on the plantation system and its vital component, slavery. But by then, the North was prospering industrially. It feared that the South’s slave-based economy might affect their economy. The North depended on factories and other industrialized businesses. For this reason many of the new immigrants settled north, while very few settled south. This allowed the North to grow industrially, while making the South more hostile towards them. The Confederacy resisted any kind of industrialization and manufactured as little as possible. Southern economy opposed high taxes, as manufacturing was limited. But the Northern states welcomed high taxes to protect its products from cheap foreign competition. As a result, the South preferred not to accept most improvements that were made by the federal government, such as roads and canals, in order to keep taxes low.
Another major problem that occurred was the competition between the North and South for more land. Both regions wanted to expand socially and economically westwards. The South wanted more agrarian states, while the North wanted to be able to expand industrial-wise. Confederate states felt that more agrarian states would help protect their economy and society in the future. The Union also felt that expansion would help their future as an industrialized country. As c
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