While the causes of the Civil War can be attributed to various factors, the principal cause is considered to be sectionalism. Sectionalism is a term that describes a situation in which the needs or desires of individual parts become more important than the well-being of the greater whole. Such was the situation between the Northern and Southern states leading up to the Civil War.
The two regions were marked by various differences, and the war was ultimately the result of both sides staunchly refusing to concede to the other on specific issues. Between the years 1800 and 1860, arguments between the North and South grew more intense. One of the main arguments was about taxes paid on goods brought into this country from foreign countries. Southerners felt these tariffs were unfair and aimed specifically at them because they imported a wider variety of goods than most Northern people. Southern exporters sometimes had to pay higher amounts for shipping their goods overseas because of the distance from southern ports and sometimes pay unequal tariffs imposed by a foreign country on some of their goods. An awkward economic structure allowed states and private transportation companies to do this, which also affected Southern banks that found themselves paying higher interest rates on loans made with banks in the North. The situation grew worse after several "panics", including one in 1857 that affected more Northern banks than Southern. Southern financiers found themselves burdened with high payments just to save Northern banks that had suffered financial losses through poor investment.
In the years before the Civil War the political power in the Federal government was changing. Northern and mid-western states were becoming more and more powerful as the populations increased. Southern states lost political power because the population did not increase as rapidly. Southerners believed that state laws carried more weight than Federal laws, and they should abide by...
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