The Cause and Effect of the Civil War
Though slavery was a key cause of the Civil War, it was not the sole reason for it. To hold slavery as the sole reason for the Civil War is incorrect as there were numerous economic, political and moral reasons behind the strife. Sectionalism (between the Northern and Southern states), Economic (between the industrial North and agrarian South), and Political differences (such as the South's deeply held belief in states' rights) all contributed to the conflict between the states. Slavery was the crux of the dilemma, but to simplify the cause of the war the slavery would be a misstatement. Also slavery was a complex issue that encompasses many other issues within it, particularly that of state and federal rights. Even in contemporary society, one can see how the causes of the Civil War have not completely disappeared and still have relevance today.
The differences between the politics of the North and South were numerous and significant and could be seen as far back as the creation of the Constitution in 1787.The fundamental differences were economic, and would lead to sectionalism and separation between northern and southern interests. The southern states were dependent upon farming and raising a myriad of crops (primarily cotton and tobacco) in order to be economically sufficient. It was widely believed in 1808 that slavery would die an inevitable death, albeit slowly and perhaps incompletely. The importation of slaves was ceased, although the domestic slave trade continued to prosper. The invention of the cotton gin helped bolster the increased importation and retention of slaves, as this new device although more efficient than previous methods required additional manpower to operate. The South produced the vast majority of crops and raw materials which were either being sent to the north for manufacture or industrial processing (cotton being utilized by the textile industry, for example) or shipped to England for a bill of exchange. These bills of exchange would have to be brought to northern cities like Philadelphia or New York in order to be traded for ready cash, sometimes at a considerable interest. The fact that the Northern broker assumed a risk in giving the planter ready money in exchange for a future claim was overlooked.
Influential publications of the time, such as De Bow's Review increased the tension and resentment some southerners held. These publications published articles (fortified with statistics and data) to show that the South was the part of the country responsible for producing wealth and the basis for manufacture, while the North, like an "economic leech", consumed the wealth of the South upon which it depended for raw materials to manufacture into finished goods. American commerce, according to this view, whether incoming or outgoing, drew deeply from the South. The South was responsible for the majority of exported product and it was the South which bought the bulk of imported goods. Northern manufactures rested upon the production of Southern materials, yet the North managed to earn the majority of profits.
Northern businessmen complained that the South dominated the national government. Southern votes had been chiefly responsible for the low Walker tariff of 1846 , and the South further supported the still tariff of 1857, which was even lower than the previous one. During the Age of Jackson, the South voted second Bank of the United States, thereby destroying that institution. This deprived the nation of central financial direction, something the South later clamored for. Southern Congressmen rejected or severely impeded funding needed for internal improvements. Southern resentment prevented federal money from going into projects intended for the construction of a transcontinental railroad that would have linked Chicago or St. Louis with the Pacific coast.
The issue of slavery, although it is now seen to be a moral one, was primarily economic...
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