Causes of Civil War

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“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” This quote stated by Abraham Lincoln in 1858 foreshadowed the inevitable clash that would eventually come to fruition just a few years later.[1] The main economic, social, and political factors that ultimately led to the Civil War all derived either directly or indirectly from slavery. Without the roots of slavery in our nation and all the problems that came with it, the civil war would never have happened.

A Union that so proudly and courageously fought for its independence against the British Empire less than a century ago was on the verge of dissolving due to problems between the North and the South. The North was anti-slavery. Its economy was based on industry, while the South was pro-slavery and had a plantation based economy. Slavery was an absolute necessity for the South, while the North had a very small need for slaves and saw some of the harsh inequalities that came with slavery. This disparity caused the initial split of Americans into the pro-slavery North and the anti-slavery South.[2]

As America expanded and acquired more territory issues arose as to whether or not slavery should be allowed to expand to the west. After the Mexican War sectional tensions increased as Northerners supported the Wilmot Proviso and Southerners vehemently opposed it. This was proposed by David Wilmot in 1846 as an attempt to ban slavery in all territory acquired by Mexico. The Compromise of 1850 was a step towards easing these tensions (at least temporarily). California was admitted as a free state, Texas’ large debt was paid off, the slave trade was stopped in Washington D.C., and white inhabitants of the territory acquired from Mexico were given the freedom to decide whether or not they wanted slavery. The Southerners were given a stronger Fugitive Slave Act, which required Northerners to assist the South in finding escaped...
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