Examining the Civil War
Examining the Civil War
A war that originated because the nation was divided ultimately marked the beginning of a truly unified United States. The Civil War put to rest the increasing sectionalism that divided the North, the South, and the newly colonized West. At the root were the issues of slavery in the South, and the attempt of the Southern states to withdraw from the Union. Although many lives and untold millions were lost in personal belongings, livestock, and structures, the Civil War set in motion the progression towards a unified Nation. During the 18th and 19th century, slavery was a very significant aspect of the development of the nation. The economic, social, and political development of the nation during this period was directly associated to slavery even though society condemned it as morally wrong. The following will detail the significance of slavery in the economic, social, and political development of the 18th and 19th century America. Additionally details will show the economic, social, and political impacts of the conflict as well as why a democratic nation failed to address the crisis peacefully. Before the Civil War, many decades before, the rural South’s economic society depended upon its market of the production and export of rice, tobacco, sugar and cotton. Slave labor was the main way to produce these crops. Slavery helped develop and establish the plantation system. “Slaves represented an enormous capital investment, worth more then all the land in the Old South” (Davidson, 2002, p 242). Slavery was the most profitable investment in the production of the staple crops. With an average of $30 to $35 a year, and sometimes even less, a slave-owner ended up taking home 60% of the yearly wealth from the slave’s labor. Not many whites owned slaves; however, those that did held political power, great wealth and authority. Even though there was great wealth to be gained from slavery there were people and regions that did not agree with it. Because of these disagreements, the nation was plagued by sectionalism. Instead of looking at the nation as united, westerners, northerners and southerners started to identify themselves regionally rather than as Americans. “The regional differences that had served to build America, now threatened to destroy it” (The Social Studies Help Center, 2006). There were many differences in regions and these differences produced variations in culture and economy. The North tended to concentrate on trade, manufacturing, and shipping while the South focused on agriculture, and the Mid-Atlantic had the makings of both regions. As the economic differences developed so, followed cultural differences as well. The north was used to a lifestyle of a faster pace, and the southerners were accustomed to the leisurely lifestyle of the gentleman farmer. Though there were battles between the regions over the tariffs of 1816 and 1828, the worst battle was over slavery. To the south slavery was the essential element to the production of cotton and cotton was the most essential element to the economy. As the production of cotton grew, so slavery grew with it. The south knew that the North was out to abolish their foundation of cheap cotton production. They believed that in order to keep the north out of it, they needed to keep the Senate on their side. To do this, they needed to make sure that states that were entering the Union were slave states. As a result of the North wanting the opposite, a compromise had to happen, thus when Missouri entered the Union, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 came into effect. The compromise did not last long because with California’s admission, the compromise would have cut the state in two, thus a new compromise was needed. The compromise of 1850 was established and California was admitted as a free state, but there was a stipulation. Nevada and New Mexico had to be allowed a popular vote on slavery. With the compromises and the...
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