The American Civil War:
Causes, Victor, and Validity
December 9, 2014
The slightest mention of the American Civil War is enough to bring graphic and often horrifying images into one’s head: mountains of dead soldiers, amputations without anesthesia, and diseases running rampant. The Civil War was a war that no one wished for, it resulted in the deaths of several hundred thousand American lives, but it is often justified by its end result, which was the abolition of slavery. But could the Civil War have been avoided? The tensions between the North and South started with their divergent socioeconomic standings. The North was more industrial, with its economy relying on factories and railroads; while the South was primarily agricultural, relying on cotton and slave labor. This separation of cultures led to a clear division, which grew based on pro-slavery and anti-slavery faction and as time passed, tore the nation apart, eventually leading to the Civil War. The general populous thinks that slavery was the main cause of the Civil War but as this paper will explain there are many other underlying causes, including: the increasing tensions between political parties, US Supreme Court case decisions, and various rebellions and uprisings. These causes were the result of growing political differences between the North and the South were the result of a series of bills that allowed for the possibility of slavery to spread beyond the South. These coupled with the demise of the Whig Party and the emergence of the Republican Party in the North caused Congress to vote regionally rather than with their party. The unconditional surrender of the South at Appomattox Courthouse resulted in the end of the war, but it did not signal an end to the suffering. Reconstruction started with the end of the war and rebuild the state governments of the South with the help of carpet-baggers, scalawags, and freedmen. With the shift in power back to white Southerners in the late 1870s led to an increase in white supremacists groups like the Ku Klux Klan as well as the use of Black Codes to subjugate of black freedmen. Causes: Political Party Tensions
One of the main causes of the Civil War was the increasing tensions between the different political parties of the time. In the years leading up to the Civil War there were two main political parties. The Whigs, who viewed government should provide the resources that people can not get on their own, such as banks, schools, and roads. And the Democrats, who appealed to citizens who wanted a smaller federal government and as much freedom as possible. Both of these parties were prominent in both the North and South. The formation of this rift between parties started with the Compromise of 1850. The Compromise was an omnibus bill put forth by Henry Clay, a Whig from Kentucky, and addressed the following issues: admittance of California into the Union as a free state, open up the New Mexico territory to vote whether they wanted slavery or not by popular sovereignty, banned slave trading in Washington D.C., had the government assume Texas’s debt that occurred during its independence, and established stronger fugitive slave laws at the federal level. The bill was voted down but Stephen Douglas, a Northern Democrat, resurrected the bill and passed it through Congress by breaking it up into separate parts and passing them through. The outrage caused by the Compromise of 1850 was fueled by the prospect of slavery leaving the South. The opening of the New Mexico and Utah territories to popular sovereignty was not something that Northerners wanted, because of the economic threat slavery posed to industries in the North. Slavery was a cheap source of labor that could have been implemented in the new territories to lower the costs of operating factories, thus putting many Northern factory workers out of work. This fear...
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