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Civil War Essay

2474 words - 10 pages

Some believe that the Civil War was fought simply over slavery. Unfortunately, there is no "simple" reason for the cause of one of America's bloodiest conflicts. Between the North and the South there were deep economic, social, and political differences. These differences and a series of complex events, including slavery, began long before the first shot was fired. The South, which was known as the Confederate States of America, seceded form the North, which was also known as the Union, for many different reasons. Four decades of great sectional conflict between the two had much to do with this eventual succession. Several factors can be attributed to the cause of the Civil War, but the main reason had to do with the North's view on slavery. The majority of this can be stemmed from the fact that there was a difference in interpretation of the American Constitution on both sides. For the most part, the North favored a loose interpretation of the constitution. They wanted to grant the federal government increased powers, while the South wanted to reserve all undefined powers to the individual states. The North also wanted improvements sponsored by the federal government, consisting of more roads, railroads, and canals. The South on the other hand was against these projects entirely. The North wanted to implement a tariff as well, which was an effort to protect the Northern manufacturer. The South viewed this as discriminatory because a high tariff, eventually enacted by Jackson, would not allow them to purchase cheap imported goods from abroad and the act appeared to favor Northern commercial interests. The civil war has been characterized, in the words of William H. Seward, as the "irrepressible conflict"(footnote from internet site #1). Many view the Civil War as criminally stupid and unnecessary bloodletting brought about by arrogant extremists and blundering politicians. Either view holds true, that in 1861 a situation arouse that, right or wrong, had to be regarded as insoluble by peaceful means. As stated before, the main reason for the South's secession revolved around the issue of slavery. Basically, the South wanted and needed slavery while the North did not want it at all. A point was reached where the South would do anything they could to keep slavery. This was the issue overshadowing all others. At this time the labor force in the South consisted of about four million slaves. These slaves were very valuable to the slave holding planter class and were a huge investment to Southerners. If taken away, it could mean massive losses to everyone. Slaves were used in the South as helpers in the fields for the cultivation of rice, tobacco, indigo, as well as many other jobs. Due to Eli Whitney's ability to solve the problem that had baffled planters, he almost instantly transformed southern agriculture with his invention of the cotton gin (textbook pg.234). As a result of this, the South at this time needed more slaves than...

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