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Causes of the Civil War1
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 competition grew between the two sides, unrest grew with it, eventually resulting in the Civil War.
IV. Political Causes
Politically, the States were not any more united in their point of views. They each feared each other’s political goals. Expanding westwards did would not only help each side socially, and economically, but also politically. More Slave states meant there would be more Southerners will be involved in congress. But if there were more Free States, there would be more northern representation in congress. This caused continuous unrest between the two regions. Also, both the North and the South had different views on how the government should operate. The south wanted less government control, and more state freedom, while the North welcomed the central power of a government. The South viewed the election of Abraham Lincoln, as president, as a threat to slavery. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the South threatened to secede from the United States that questioned “State Rights.” Were States allowed to secede from the nation or not? To make matters worse, the South was determined to start its own nation, by electing its own president, Thomas Jefferson. It started calling for International recognition as a nation from France and Britain. The South was persistent in becoming a separate country, but the North was not about to give up the South.
Eventually, the Civil War erupted. After four long years, the Union would win the War and the country would once again become united. There were many reasons why the North was able to overcome the South. Since Southern economy was agrarian, and they had very few factories, the value of manufactured goods was higher than crops by the start of the War. This made the North wealthier, helping it to produce ammunition and other warfare utilities. The South was poorer, do to the lack of money since cotton was no longer providing the income and had only a few sources for manufacturing goods. As a result they were always unequipped and could not keep up. The North had the ability to invent modern weapons while the South had to fight with older weapons. The North always had more people compared to the South who had fewer people. At war, the casualty rates were always equal, but the South suffered more because while the North could afford these loses, the South could not.
The Civil War lasted longer than it was expected to. But, unfortunately, the War was inevitable due to the great gap between the North and South socially, economically and politically. In fact, due to these circumstances, if the South had won the War, the country would have probably been divided into two separate countries. As any war would have ended, the War ended with great losses to both sides. More Americans were killed in the Civil War than in all other American wars combined from the colonial period through the later phase of the Vietnam War. Apart from the number of deaths and casualties, the great loss of property and money, the country now needed to work together in order to rebuild what was lost. Emotionally, it would take long years for many people to overcome the consequences of the war. The war was followed by twelve years of Reconstruction, during which the North and South debated the future of black Americans and fought bitter political battles. Yet, there was a good outcome of this war. Slavery came to an end as a legal institution. But the war did not bring equal rights for blacks, they still had their own war to win until those rights would be achieved.
...but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive,
and the other would accept war rather than let it perish,
and the war came.
Abraham Lincoln, 4 March 1865
THE CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
I Introduction to Civil War
II Social Causes
A Differences in society
B Westward Expansion
III Economic Causes
A Differences in economy
B Westward Expansion
IV Political Causes
A Costs of War
The Main Causes of the American Civil War
Academic Writing EWR3AA-01
February 20, 2001
“American Civil War.” Encarta Online Encyclopedia[CD-ROM]. Microsoft Corporation.
Fluhrer, Robert C. “Civil War.” World Book. 1996 ed.
Hux, Allan and others. America: A History. Toronto: Globe/Modern Curriculum
Stampp, Kenneth. The Causes of The Civil War. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc,
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 betwe
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