Civil War Essay Example


The Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, changed the United States in that slavery, the main source of labor for the South, was abolished. After, during Reconstruction, debates were primarily about the rights of Black people. However before the War, debates about states rights, specifically the right of a state to allow slavery, were the main topic in Congress, and in daily life. Although political conflict between the North and the South was a prominent cause of the Civil War, debates over slavery were, to a great extent, the main factor in leading the United States into the Civil War because from 1830 to 1860, more people in the North began to question whether it was right or wrong, while in the South, it was still the foundation of their economy and they wanted to protect it.

The differences and division between the North and the South were evident in politics. After the Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, Congress was divided over what should happen with the land they had gained. David Wilmot, part of the Free Soil Party, proposed the Wilmot Proviso, which said slavery should not be allowed in any of the new territory acquired from Mexico. His proposal created an even deeper political rift between the North and the South, not only over slavery, but over land. In the Senate 1856, Preston Brooks, a Southern Democrat, beat Charles Sumner with his walking stick. This incident, part of Bleeding Kansas, was a direct result of the conflict over whether new territories should allow or ban slavery. Bleeding Kansas, which lasted from 1855 to 1859, was another political conflict between the North and the South. Both anti- and pro-slavery forces streamed into present-day Kansas to try to establish governments, which would decide whether slavery would be allowed or not (depending on the group). This was a political conflict because it led to incidents such as the one previously mentioned.

As the American Industrial Revolution took hold in the Northern states, many more people began to frown on slavery. Books such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stower in 1852, helped turn the Northern opinion against slavery. The North, which hadn't previously been enthusiastic about anti-slavery reform, now began to see what slavery was really like. In this way, Uncle Tom's Cabin created a path that would eventually lead to the election of Lincoln, and the Civil War. It would also lead to the formation of the Republican Party. This party, founded in 1854 and which was solely in the North, pushed for anti-slavery reform. The formation of the party, and the election of some of its candidates into official positions, would lead directly to Southern secession, and therefore the Civil War.

In contrast to the North, the Southern economy depended almost completely on cotton, which was harvested by slaves. As a result, they would not only do anything to preserve it. One such example is the Fugitive Slave Act, signed in 1850, which, while not being proposed by the South itself, gave them an advantage. They could now not only reclaim the slaves that had run away, but recruit both Northern and federal help. This angered the North, leading to another wedge between the two regions. In addition, Southerners wanted to expand slavery. The Crittenden Compromise of 1861 proposed the idea to allow slavery to reach to the Pacific coast, while still keeping the Missouri Compromise Line. States and territories above the line would be free, and those under the line would allow slavery. The Compromise was rejected by Lincoln, who was the president-elect at the time. This would help lead to the South's secession because it cemented their idea that Lincoln and the North wanted to abolish slavery, not compromise with them.

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