January 4

Blog #163 – Causes of the Civil War and Inevitable-ness

There has been a lot of time and money and energy spent talking about the causes of the Civil War ever since the guns stopped firing in April 1865.  And judging by the historiography, American historians have viewed the primary causes in a different light depending upon the time period in which they lived in.  One of the main reasons why there has been such interest in this topic is because the war set Americans vs. Americans and was, in one way, a fight over the future of the country.  Were we going to remain an agriculture-based economy (think Jefferson) as exemplified by enslavement or were we going to keep up with the times and become more industrial as seen in the Northern factories?   Another issue at stake was the status of African Americans in this country – would they stay or be sent back to Africa?  Would slavery and second-class citizenship be their continued status or would they share in the rights that ALL Americans are supposed to have?  And how in the world would the country help get four million formerly enslaved African Americans a leg up and possibly on an equal playing field with the rest of the country?

Historians who wrote about the conflict soon after the war were usually Northerners who blamed an aggressive slave conspiracy that wanted to spread the institution all across America.  Southern historians saw the conflict as a moral one in which the North instituted an unconstitutional strategy of making the South economically subservient to the North.   A third group tended to blame the short-sighted politicians of the antebellum era who could not reach compromises like had been done in the past.  President James Buchanan and Senator Stephen Douglas are their usual targets.

By the 1890s, a Nationalist school of history arose, sparked by America’s emergence as a world power economically and politically. One particular historian, James Ford Rhodes, wrote that slavery was the primary cause, where the South fought

History of the Civil War, 1861-1865: Rhodes, James Ford: 9780486409009: Amazon.com: Books

the war to extend slavery and that the war was an “irrepressible conlfict”.  However, he didn’t see Southern slave owners as hideous monsters and in some ways blamed the cotton gin for making slavery become more entrenched in the South.  Slavery, in essence, became a burden that 1860 slaveowners had inherited and some thing that they couldn’t completely control.  (Like, what…?) Nationalist historians tended to focus also more on the outcomes of the war – American industry exploded after the war, a more powerful federal government emerged, and we became an imperialist nation starting in 1893.  So I guess the Nationalist historians put a positive spin on the enslavement of 4 million people, the deaths of over 750,000 Americans, and the destruction of the Southern economy…. cool story, bruh.

The next group of historians, writing in the 1920s and 30s, was called the Progressive School and was influenced by the ill social effects of run-amuck industrialism and uneven distribution of wealth in the country.  Charles and Mary Beard were two of the most influential of this school, and they saw the war as a “social cataclysm” in which “the capitalists, laborers, and farmers of the North and West drove from power in the national government the planting aristocracy in the South.”   This school of history focused more on the economic causes of the war instead of slavery, which fit well with some very racist historians writing at the time who portrayed the South as a land of chivalrous planters with their pathetically helpless and loyal slaves – by contrast the North were nasty, profit-driven capitalists trying to destroy the honor and tradition of the South.  Essentially, the Lost Cause Myth, which we will explore in the coming weeks.

Revisionist historians, writing in the 1930s and 40s, saw the war as an insufferable evil, regardless of causes.  The political leaders were to blame for not taking advantage of alternatives that could have saved the nation.  They thought that the war could have been avoided, and that the politicians had deliberately set apart the North and South during 1840 – 1860 as people who were both trying to preserve their culture and way of life.  James G. Randall called these politicians the “blundering generation.”


Starting in the 1960s, newer historians started reevaluating all of these previous approaches and started to synthesize them together and not focusing on just one cause.  Prominent historians like Edward Ayers, Michael Holt, Eric Foner (the author of a competing APUSH textbook and an expert on Reconstruction), James McPherson, Manisha Sinha all mashed these causes together and reformulated the causes of the war together.  Some focused on an ideological conflict – whether slavery or economics – that primarily caused the war.  During this time, we also see more women and  historians of color asking different questions than previous generations who had their own takes on the war as the academic world becomes more diversified.

I think this Venn diagram kinda shows how that maybe all of them interlock together.




Here are the 2 questions I asked you at the beginning of this unit: 

  1. So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from.  Slavery?  Economics?  States’ rights?  Clash of cultures?  Terrible politicians?  Westward expansion?  Which is it and why?
  2. Do you think the war was inevitable?  If yes, at what point did it become inevitable?  If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?

Please answer both of these questions with a minimum of 400 words total for both answers by the beginning of class on Monday, January 8. 

Origins of the American Civil War - Wikipedia

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Posted January 4, 2024 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

62 thoughts on “Blog #163 – Causes of the Civil War and Inevitable-ness

  1. Aaron H

    1. So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from. Slavery? Economics? States’ rights? Clash of cultures? Terrible politicians? Westward expansion? Which is it and why?
    I believe that it’s all of these factors, but that they all center around slavery. Well, minus the terrible politicians part, that was a problem in itself. You see, slavery was the tree that connected every root, it divided the states on almost every subject. It was the main theme of every political debate, the main thought of many Americans, and almost always the cause for dispute. The Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Panic of 1857, and Bleeding Kansas are three examples of this. The Lincoln-Douglas debates occurred in 1858, all throughout Illinois. These debates, of course, were between Abraham Lincoln and Stephan Douglas, both fighting for a place on the Illinois senate. These debates were almost completely centered around slavery, and how it affected politics, society, their economy, everything. A year before this, the Panic of 1857 occurred which hit the North’s economy hard. The panic only affected the North, as it was centered around investments only Northerners would make in railroads, and other industrial technologies. When a few banks failed, and more and more railroad companies started failing, panic spread. While in the South, everything was just dandy. Southerns didn’t invest in any of these as they had no reason to, none of the things they would be investing in would exist near them. Railroads and other industrial aspects didn’t spread to them, thus, the South was mostly fine while the industrial North struggled. This led to many Southerns believing that their agricultural system centered around cotton was the greatest, which is where the phrase “cotton is king” came from. Not to forget, Bleeding Kansas which truly showed how deep the divide over slavery ran. To summarize it, Missouritans were coming over into Kansas to vote on whether Kansas should be a slave state or a free state. Kansas didn’t have a residency requirement at the time, so this was rather easy for Missourians to do. Of course, due to this a pro-slavery government was voted into place, but many against this decided to form their own illegal anti-slavery government. Not to mention all the incidents of violence throughout the years, one of the most known examples being the Pottawatomie Massacre. In this massacre, 5 pro-slavery people died at the hands of John Brown, a known abolitionist, and his small group of anti-slavery people. These are just a few examples as to why slavery was the main root of all their problems.

    2. Do you think the war was inevitable? If yes, at what point did it become inevitable? If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?
    I do believe that the Civil War was inevitable, as slavery was so intertwined into Americans lives from the beginning. This war was inevitable for generations, the only variable was when it’d actually break out. Abolitionists wanting slavery to end after so many years, so many decades was impossible without war or at least a super serious compromise with a very gradual end. You see, taking slavery away from the South would be like taking an 11 or 12 year old away from their parents. That kid has known their parents their whole life, and there is no way they will leave them without a fight. Which is exactly what slavery was like to the South, the South was built on slavery, and they were never just going to give that up. Back to the original question, while the war was inevitable for decades, the real turning point was most likely Bleeding Kansas. I believe this because of the sheer amount of violence that occurred in just a few years over slavery. Towns were burnt down, many people killed, and even more were injured. Bleeding Kansas showed the U.S. just how intertwined and involved every American was with slavery. Not to mention how it led to “The Crime Against Kansas” which exposed the instability in Congress, and to be honest it was all downhill from there. Once the politicians have cracked, there’s no fixing anything as the people in power won’t fix it.

  2. Ashley Glime

    So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from. Slavery? Economics? States’ rights? Clash of cultures? Terrible politicians? Westward expansion? Which is it and why?
    All of these causes slavery, economics, states rights and clash of cultures and more all are reasons in my opinion as to why the Civil war started. There is one that sticks out more to me and that is slavery. Slavery sticks out more to me because it affects every single one of the topics listed above. For example in the south economics were strictly based off of cotton which required slaves in order to help produce it faster. Another huge topic based off slavery at the time was the Kansas-Nebraska act. This caused opinions about dictating which state would be a free or a slave state. This ended up causing issues in the North because it contradicted what happened with the Missouri compromise by going over the 36, 30 line the Missouri compromise was originally made to help settle tension over slavery. Instead the Kansas-Nebraska act instead gave hope to the south creating more tension with the north because it gave the south hope of being able to spread slavery over the 36 30 line. Another event that happened was more books were being published by the north such as “Uncle Tom’s cabin” and “The impending crisis of the south.” These books were the North’s way of responding to slavery showing the real cruelty and brutality of slavery. The south was angry about these books being released and instead responded angrily with a book saying how slavery not only benefited the slaves but as well as the owners. Another event that was extremely significant was the Harpers ferry raid led by John Brown. He led 21 black men including his 3 sons on October 16th 1859 to raid Harpers ferry. This was an act to help give slaves weapons to fight against their slave owners which he did to hopefully spark nation wide tension. They eventually captured John Brown but it did create fear in the south that another person like him would do something like this.
    Do you think the war was inevitable? If yes, at what point did it become inevitable? If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?
    I think that the Civil war was super inevitable. With slavery constantly being a topic for years upon years it eventually was going to create something as terrible as the Civil war. Because both sides were so stubborn especially about the topic of slavery theres no question as to why this happened. I think it became evidently inevitable dating all the way back to the constitution when it completely left out the regard for slaves being named as remotely people. This then led to the controversy of if slavery is really a good thing.

  3. Clare G

    So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from. Slavery? Economics? States’ rights? Clash of cultures? Terrible politicians? Westward expansion? Which is it and why?

    The primary cause of the Civil War was the growing divide between the north and south based on slavery. Most, if not all of the debates between the two regions over things like westward expansion, political policies, economics, state and property rights were just offshoots of the much grander issue of slavery. The introduction of popular sovereignty with the Kansas-Nebraska act; would they be free or slave states? The nullification crisis over tariff of 1828 that helped the northern economy and hurt the southern economy. Why? Because the southern economy relied on slave labor rather than manufacturing like the north. Outrage over the Dred Scott decision that officially defined slaves as property. All of these things and so many more that further alienated the north and south can be traced back to the issue of slavery. While all of the examples in the question are valid and important causes of the Civil War, if you look past surface level, they can all be subcategories of slavery.

    Do you think the war was inevitable? If yes, at what point did it become inevitable? If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?

    I believe that nothing is inevitable. By saying that something becomes inevitable, you contradict the meaning of the word. However, that’s irrelevant. My answer is yes, I believe that there was a turning point in which a civil war was ‘inevitable.’ I believe the turning point was the emergence of the abolitionist movement and the American Anti-Slavery Society. Before this point, there had really never been a permanent group who openly opposed slavery. By creating a head on confrontation and political deadlock with supporters of slavery, it made it near impossible to end slavery without violence. Because slave labor was so intricately woven into the fabric of American society, specifically presenting itself in economics, to remove it from society would need careful and deliberate action and consensus from everyone as to not destroy the economy. With the abolitionist movement further dividing the country, getting that consensus became impossible. In addition to consensus, removing slavery peacefully would have to take hundreds of years so as to not crumble the foundation of America. Many abolitionists realized these things and were willing to work toward them, but the few fighting for immediate abolition were swinging a wrecking ball just waiting for it to hit something. By being vocal and accusatory toward the south (no matter how rightfully so) they made supporters of slavery angrier, more defensive, and unwilling to consider the eradication of slavery, thus making a war ‘inevitable.’

  4. Isabella Franco

    I believe that the primary cause of the Civil War was slavery. While there are many options to choose from, each one of these options leads back to slavery. For example, poor decisions made by politicians can be related back to the Dred Scott case. The Supreme Court’s poor choice to state that banning slavery would deny people of their property and nullify due process led to the Missouri Compromise becoming unconstitutional. This court decision infuriated northerners (and anyone else who didn’t own slaves), while southerners used this case to further argue that slavery was their constitutional right. Similarly, the debates over state rights increased sectionalism as well. At the time, the economy was based on northern manufacturing and southern agriculture (which relied solely on slave labor). Northern abolitionists threatening the future of slavery worried southerners, who feared their economy would collapse with the ban of slavery. A sign that the south was willing to fight for their rights was “Bleeding Kansas,” which was in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Bleeding Kansas shows that just the mere thought of banning slavery worried the south so much that they were willing to be violent (and kill). Even westward expansion relates back to slavery, as one of the main goals of the south was to expand west to increase their agricultural empire. Overall, there were several causes of the Civil War and the south’s secession from the union, all of which can be traced back to slavery, which is why I believe it is the main cause.

    I believe the war was inevitable due to the long ongoing debates and arguments regarding slavery. Since slavery was first introduced to the US, there were questions and debates posed about it. These issues only got worse when the south expanded their agricultural empire and relied solely on slave labor to keep it going. I believe that the south saw the northerners’ disapproval of slavery as a threat to them. Slavery was the only way the south could succeed economically, and by getting rid of it, 1.) the southern economy would fail leading to 2.) the north becoming the economic leaders of the US. The south was nowhere near willing to give up slavery, meaning the arguments would remain consistent. The war became inevitable when debates over slavery turned violent. Bleeding Kansas for example, was proof that the south was willing to use violence to defend their “constitutional right” of slavery.

  5. Rocco

    When you ask yourself what was the cause of the civil war, there are many different factors, but the only true direct cause is slavery. The sectional debates over slavery is what created the most tension between the south and the north, and it was ultimately what led the south to succeed from the union. When the north tried to take the south’s slavery, and only when they tried to take away slavery, did the south decide they had gone too far and retaliated.

    With the growing sectional tension, the war was inevitable. Although if some things such as John Browns attacks and attempt at sparking slave revolts in the south hadn’t happened, I believe it could have happened in a different way or at least at a later time. The war between the two was inevitable as soon as the republicans won office. The beliefs of the party would try to contain slavery, and this would trigger the south to retaliate against the government.

  6. Hannah Martens

    I think that the issue that primarily caused the Civil War was slavery. It seems like this is most people’s first thought when they think of not only the major cause, but the largest effect of the civil war (the banning of slavery in the United States of America). There were many other causes, but they can all be tied to the issue of slavery. The conflicts over economics were centered over the fact that the South made less money than the North even with their system of unpaid laborers. The largest debates over state’s rights were for their rights to allow slavery or not. From the Missouri Compromise of 1850 to Bleeding Kansas, it was a recurring argument over whether slavery was a right provided by the constitution or not. The politicians continuously came up with solutions that did nothing but add fuel to the fire that was sectionalism, most of these decisions were an attempt to “solve” the issue of slavery. Westward expansion was largely problematic due to the debates over admitting new states as free states or slave states. Obviously each problem was tied to many events or issues, but the one that they can all be connected to, and for the most part the largest connection to each, is slavery.
    I do think that the Civil War became inevitable at some point. There was a long period of time when the differences and disagreements between the North and the South were growing and getting more serious, but I think there was a chance for a good president or a few good politicians to settle things up until the Harpers Ferry raid led by John Brown. Although he was not the first to encourage slave revolt or to act with violence against slavery, the inspiration he provided to the North, other abolitionists, or anyone against slavery, along with the fear he inspired in the South, John Brown’s raid is an easily arguable changing point. Slave owners had an idea in their head that the North as a whole wished to immediately abolish slavery as a whole and basically strip the South of its economy. John Brown and his men coming to the South and attempting to free an abundance of slaves in Harpers Ferry proved their fear legitimate in many people’s opinions, as well as inspired the South to defend their self-proclaimed “rights” to slavery more than ever. It also lit the spark in the North by letting fellow abolitionists know how many people were willing to fight, and die in John Brown’s case, for abolition. This event took away any chance of the division being settled peacefully.

  7. danedimmer

    1. So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from. Slavery? Economics? States’ rights? Clash of cultures? Terrible politicians? Westward expansion? Which is it and why?

    I think slavery is the primary cause of the civil war because all of the other topics above directly lead into slavery as the main cause. The main argument the South had with economics was because of the fact that the South’s economy relied on slaves and the southerners believed that the northerners taking it away was violating their constitutional rights, this also attributed to clash of cultures because the southerners believed that slavery was a “positive good” due to the benefits their economy received from it and abolitionists saw slavery as a “moral evil” because it’s bad, some of them were willing to fight and interfere in other states to push each their own agendas like during Bleeding Kansas. Terrible politicians are also another thing caused by the topic of slavery because a ton of politicians would just straight up refuse to even mention it like with the gag rule, even though it was a huge issue and the biggest issue in America for years. Westward expansion’s contribution to the civil war was also a direct continuation of arguments over slavery, the belief of popular sovereignty and the repealing of the Missouri Compromise only discredited the 36 ’30 line and led to the events of bleeding Kansas.

    2. Do you think the war was inevitable? If yes, at what point did it become inevitable? If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?

    I believe the war was inevitable ever since popular sovereignty and the Missouri Compromise being repealed. It completely ruined the idea of the 36 ’30 line and only increased aggression towards the Abolitionists and the Southerners who wanted more free/slave states depending on what they were for and they were willing to find loopholes and get violent over their ideals. All the tension that was built up for decades from stuff like the Dred Scott vs Sanford case, the fugitive slave act, and eventually bleeding Kansas made preserving the union too far gone as both sides were dead set on getting rid of one another. Another example of the war being proved inevitable was Abraham Lincoln’s election and how fast the South seceded and how he wasn’t even on the ballot, despite the republicans choosing him over the actual Abolitionist William Seward in hopes of trying to preserve and save the union i think this proves it was too late as regardless who was in office they were gonna secede, even the Southern democrat Breckinridge was calling to secede from the union so even if the democrats were in office it was over before it started. The country was a melting pot of differing opposite opinions and I believe the war was inevitable no matter who was in office.

  8. Myles Rontal

    In the antebellum slavery area, the institution of slavery was a deeply divided issue. The Southern states relied heavily on slave labor for their agrarian economy, while the Northern states were moving toward industrialization and largely opposed slavery. Another divide between the two sides was the economic differences between the North and the South. These included tariff policies and disputes over the control of economic policies. The North favored protective tariffs, while the agrarian South, relied on exporting its goods, and opposed them. Another divide was the dispute over the balance of power between the federal government and the states. Southern states favored state rights, particularly the right to allow or prohibit slavery within their borders. Disputes over the expansion of slavery into new territories inflamed sectional tensions. The North wanted Western states to be free while the Southerners wanted a place to expand slavery, hence they wanted the Western territories to end up being slave states. A culmination of these issues was political leaders’ inability to find compromises to address them. One of the causes of this was the South’s reluctance to make compromises. One of the South’s biggest advocates for this reluctance was John C Calhoun. Calhoun was a South Carolina congressman who advocated for states’ rights and began the nullification crisis. This exemplified the tensions between the belief in states’ rights and a strong federal government. Later, when Calhoun felt that slavery was a “positive good,” he refused to make any compromise on the belief that every compromise weakened the institution of slavery. I think the civil war was inevitable when they created the original constitution. This is because the first constitution didn’t really take a side on the slavery issue, stating that they would ban the importation of slaves in twenty years. By instituting this policy, the constitutional convention allowed each section of the United States time to develop their economies in different ways. The South was solely focused on agriculture, specifically cotton, and with the creation of the cotton gin became heavily dependent on the practice of slavery, to produce labor for their agrarian way of life. The North on the other hand didn’t have the same ability to cultivate crops such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco so they focussed on manufacturing and shipping, which later became industry and the development of the factory system. The North developed a railroad system and instead of using slave labor, used wage workers, who worked in factories and other areas of industry. This divide in economics and slavery fueled debates in Congress and ultimately caused the secession of eleven states and set the stage for the Civil War.

  9. Carl

    1. Pinpointing a single cause is of the Civil War is challenging, as it was the culmination of several interconnected issues that each contributed to the outbreak of war. In my opinion, slavery was undoubtedly a central issue. The economic, social, and moral implications of slavery divided the nation as the North largely opposed it, advocating for abolition, while the agrarian economy of the South heavily relied on it for cotton production. These economic disparities between the industrialized North and agrarian South greatly exacerbated tensions. The North’s advancements in technology led to a more diversified economy. Meanwhile, the South’s economy was deeply entrenched in agriculture, particularly cotton, making it more resistant to change. Another key issue of the Civil War is the concept of states’ rights. Southern states argued for greater autonomy in decision-making, particularly on issues like slavery, however, the North called for further federalization–a trend that directly reflects early American debates between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Ineffective political leadership and compromise failures further fueled the tensions. The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act showed the deep-rooted disagreements and the inability of politicians to find lasting solutions.

    2. I do not think that the Civil War was predestined, however, certain events heightened the likelihood of conflict. A crucial turning point was the Compromise of 1850, which limited the expansion of slavery to the 36’ 30’ line. The compromise temporarily alleviated tensions but failed to address the root issues. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, allowing popular sovereignty in new territories, further deepened divisions and led to violent clashes, such as Bleeding Kansas. The Dred Scott decision in 1857, asserting that enslaved individuals were property and not entitled to freedom, added fuel to the fire. The divisive 1860 presidential election, with Abraham Lincoln winning without Southern support, prompted Southern states to secede. While it’s not accurate to say the war was completely inevitable, by this point, a series of events and failed compromises had set the stage for armed conflict. The inability to find common ground, along with deep seated ideological differences, made war increasingly likely.

  10. Sofia B

    So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from. Slavery? Economics? States’ rights? Clash of cultures? Terrible politicians? Westward expansion? Which is it and why?
    The Civil War was started by an amalgamation of different factors coming together and boiling over. When thinking of causes of wars, I like to split them into two categories: complex wars started by many factors coming together and simple wars started from one direct action or factor. The Civil War would fall into the complex war category. Slavery was one of the driving issues of the war. The north disliked slavery and the south supported it. This created tension between the two parts of the country. Many slavery-based decisions such as the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act or the passage of the new Fugitive Slave Act caused more tension between pro and anti slavery supporters. Tension was also created by the possible expansion of slavery that came along with Westward expansion. The Missouri Compromise was put in place to keep the balance between northern and southern senators; however, that would become increasingly more difficult as more states are added to the union. Clash of cultures was another cause of tension. The south believed in a plantation economy which supported the use of slaves while the north believed in an industrial economy which did not promote slave labor. Economics worsened this tension. There was an economic downturn in 1857 known as the panic of 1857 that only affected the north. This made the south think that their economy and way of life was invincible and the right way while the northern economy and way of life were weak and wrong.
    Do you think the war was inevitable? If yes, at what point did it become inevitable? If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?
    Yes the war was inevitable due to the sectional tensions between the north and the south. The north and south both worked differently and didn’t cooperate which at some point would boil over and lead to a conflict. It is hard to pinpoint the exact start of the war because there were many factors that lead to the sectional tensions (slavery, economics, clash of cultures, westward expansion). If you are using the factor of slavery then one could argue that the Civil War became inevitable when slaves were brought to the U.S. in 1619. If talking about economy, then when the industrial northern economy took off after the War of 1812. If talking about westward expansion then it started with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Civil War is like a knitted quilt. There are so many individual strands of thread that all start somewhere different that build on each other.

  11. Delilah Covatta

    There were many complex causes of the Civil War with slavery undoubtedly standing out as the main factor that contributed to the outbreak of the conflict. While economics, bad politicians, state rights, westward expansion, clash of cultures, and social differences between the Northern and Southern states existed, slavery was the focal point that heightened these arguments. The election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the United States in 1860 escalated the deep running conflicts between states. His victory was seen as a threat to the Southern states because of his anti-slavery (NOT abolitionist) views. Southern states believed that Lincoln would jeopardize their economic systems and lifestyle, along with knowing that they would not be allowed to keep slaves anymore. In response to his election, several Southern states seceded from the Union, forming the Confederacy.The expansion of the United States into new territories intensified the debate over the extension of slavery into these areas. The Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act tried to address the issue of whether these territories would be free states or slave states. These political compromises only temporarily stopped the arguing and in turn eventually drew the country to war.
    The Civil War was a long time coming. The near entirety of the United States foundation is cracked with inequality and unjust actions alike to slavery. This metaphorical “foundation” is so cracked that I don’t think there was a turning point. Being pro-slavery or anti-slavery was ingrained into what built America- literally. When people feel unequal or that they are being treated unfairly, it is in their nature to stand up for what they believe when the time comes. It was not a doubt to anyone that slaves did not like or enjoy slavery, as slave revolts were relatively common occurrences among other forms of resistance. Both Northerners and Southerners were so strict on their near polarizing beliefs on slavery certainly did not help this inevitable war.With an expanding nation, more laws were necessary, land needed to be divided up, and states were in the making. With the Missouri compromise along with the Kansas-Nebraska act, the North didn’t want more slave states in the country and the South didn’t want more free states in the country. When Kansas was able to be a slave state, many Northerners were upset with this, so then became the reason for the birth of the Republican Party.

  12. Henry M

    So, when you think about what primarily caused the Civil War, there is a lot to choose from.  Slavery?  Economics?  States’ rights?  Clash of cultures?  Terrible politicians?  Westward expansion?  Which is it and why?

    While the civil war was very complicated, and many factors combined to spark it, slavery was at the basis of all of these. Economic disparities between the North and South were largely created by the promotion of slavery in the south versus the promotion of industry in the north. The promotion of slavery lead to a much less developed economy, lacking much diversification as well as a lack of infrastructure. Debators claiming the main cause of the civil war to be “states right” aren’t necessarily wrong, however, this claim overlooks what rights those states were trying to protect. In most cases, the only right these states were interested in protecting was the right to own slaves. Some claim the Civil War was sparked by a clash of different cultures, which like most of these points is true, slavery is still the underlying factor. The stark divide in the majorly rural, very conservative south and the urban, majority liberal north are results of slavery. With slave crops to boost their economy, the south never felt the need to industrialize, while the north was forced to innovate to keep up. Overall, slavery was the underlying condition to all of these factors leading to the war, which is why it’s the primary cause.

    Do you think the war was inevitable?  If yes, at what point did it become inevitable?  If you don’t believe the war was inevitable, why did the war start when it did with the bombing of Fort Sumter?

    I believe that the war was inevitable after the election of 1860. The election saw republican Abraham Lincoln beating democratic candidates Stephen Douglas and John Breckenridge, despite having a minority of the vote. The democrats lost the election because the deep south nominated their own candidate, a radical, splitting the party vote. Southern states preferred to risk having their party loose over electing Stephen Douglas, because Douglas was too moderate. This shows radical tensions at an all time high in the south, being the first time that they split even from northern democrats, people in their own party. The south nominating Breckenridge to president was a sign that if someone that they didn’t completely support was in office, they wouldn’t support this country. After nominating Breckenridge, the war was clearly inevitable.

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