Westward Expansion and the Civil War
By the mid nineteenth century, the United States was expanding westward rapidly. And as America expanded, so did the sectionalism. The rifts between the North and the South, caused by conflicting views on Westward Expansion were becoming more evident. Not only were the debates over westward expansion tedious; the ever growing social debate was also becoming alarmingly prevalent. And in 1860, the Civil War broke out, ultimately because of economic, political and social aspects of westward expansion. Therefore, westward expansion caused the Civil War.
The Western Frontier was seen as a profitable enterprise by many people in the 1850s. In Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, the Republican Party was formed with contrasting views to other political parties; they wanted no slavery in any territory purely because the Republicans wanted the west to be open only to free white labor. The Republican Party’s groundbreaking platform showed the downfalls to slavery economically, rather than just socially as abolitionists preached. This economic issue of slavery further heated the debate over slavery and divided the political parties and states further. Furthermore, the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 was another pass at the economic prospects of the west. Stephen Douglas of Illinois had created this act for his own financial gain seeing as he was a director of the Central Railroad of Illinois and he wanted the train to run through Chicago. But in order to do this, the plains had to be settled above the line of the Missouri Compromise. Because of the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, Stephen Douglas got what he wanted, and ultimately settled the plains in Kansas and Nebraska in order to expand business into the western territories which would lead to future economic prosperity, while still dividing the Americans further. Finally, the Panic of 1857-1859, caused by a collapse in the international demand for grain, overproduction in the...
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