Causes of Civil War Essay
You hear the word civil in such terms as civil rights, civilian, civilization and civil liberty. All are related to the concept of a common citizen and a member of society. So, a civil war is a war between citizens representing different groups or sections of the same country. That is how the Civil War in the United States between 1850-1860 started. The distinction of ideas about slavery between the South and the North was pretty much the main cause of the war.
However if we look at the details carefully, the economic forces in the South combined with the cotton plantations and the reactions to abolitionism in the South were the main factors that caused the Civil War. Economics was an important cause of the Civil War. Economic reasons affected and still affect almost everyone around the world. The economy, simply money gives people a lot of power, which causes a lot of problems between people, and makes everything more complicated. That’s pretty much why it was a big deal with the starting of the Civil War.
It started around early 1800s with the harvesting of cotton in the South (Holland, “The North-South Divide”). Harvesting of cotton required the labor of many people with the invention of cotton gin. So, the way of making a lot of money out of cotton was to find enough laborers to work with. That’s how slavery became essential for the South’s economic future because it was a great source of laborers. In this way slave and cotton plantation owners were making a lot of money and expanding their plantations and of course the number of slaves they owned, which made slavery expand in the South pretty quickly.
Also, people who owned slaves and the cotton plantations were mostly the men of social and political power, and of course they didn’t want to lose their power. They were getting richer and richer every day with the expanding plantations with the invention of the cotton gin. For example, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee were some of the most powerful slave owners of that time. Davis had a great political career, and Lee was an important commander and general in the army. They and the other slave owners got their power from slavery and didn’t want to lose that power.
While slavery kept expanding in the South, the North didn’t like that. The North was against the expansion of slavery, an opposition captured by Free Soil Ideology. Their main purpose was opposing the expansion of slavery into the western territories, because they saw it as a corrupt economic system. This made the South see the Free Soil movement as a threat of making slavery totally disappear. The South was threatened because they thought this ideology in the North would keep expanding and finally free all the slaves they owned, and ruining the Southern economy (Brinkley).
While this happened in the South, the idea of abolitionism kept spreading through the North. Another cause of divisions between the North and the South was the abolitionist movement. The South saw this movement as a threat from the North, and becoming suspicious of them. John Brown was clearly the most significant radical abolitionist at that time. He fought slavery for years but his most significant action took place at Harper Ferry, Virginia. Brown seized federal arsenal, and he hoped the slaves would come to Harpers Ferry and march through the South, fighting slavery.
This way he scared the South, because a slave rebellion had always been the region’s main fear, and therefore the South formed militias. Most Southerners were convinced Brown had done what a lot of Northerners wanted to do, which threatened them (“John Brown Farm, North Elba, New York – New York History Net”). In other wards, Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry 1859 fed fear of slave uprising. Southerners basically thought the Republican Party supported John Brown’s Raid and what he had done (Holland, “Abolitionism”).
This was a big issue for them, because the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was elected the next year and he was a member of the Republican Party. The South thought that being a member of the Republican Party meant being an abolitionist. This worried them, because abolitionists wanted to make slavery disappear, and they thought that’s exactly what the new president of the whole country, Lincoln wanted to do. So, the South saw the election of Abraham Lincoln as a threat. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln was not an abolitionist, and he didn’t think what John Brown did was good and ethical.
He didn’t want to make the South be against him. He was just supporting the Free Soil Ideology. So Lincoln just didn’t want slavery to expand. However the South didn’t see this distinction. Even before Lincoln was inaugurated, Southern states began to secede from the Union (“Abraham Lincoln”). So that was pretty much how the conflict first started, and caused the Civil War to begin. The Civil War ended in 1865 and slavery was finally abolished. Slavery had been the main reason for its start, because of the economic divisions it sparked along with abolitionism.
The harvesting of cotton was a big source of money at that time, especially after the invention of the cotton gin and needed a great source of slaves as laborers. The abolitionist movement added more to this conflict with the misunderstandings about Lincoln’s political views in the South. At the end, the price for the war was pretty high. Lincoln, a visionary president, was assassinated, and it was the bloodiest and the saddest war in American history. It has a valuable part in American history and worth remembering a clear example of what’s right and what’s wrong.
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