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Election Of Lincoln And Civil War

1276 words - 5 pages

Election of Lincoln and Civil War

How did the election of Lincoln to president in 1860 lead to civil war in the United States of America?


In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected as president of the United States of America, the repercussions of which led to civil war. However it was not only Lincoln’s election that led to civil war but also the slavery debate between the northern and southern states and the state of the economy in the United States. Together with the election of Lincoln these caused a split, both politically and ideologically, between the North and South states which manifested into what is now refereed to as the American Civil War.

When Lincoln won the 1860 election it was not by a majority vote. As stated by the historian Neville he in fact won less than 40 percent of popular votes. However because the American election system is based on the college votes system (where each state is worth a certain number of points and if a candidate wins the majority of votes in that state he wins all the points for that state, regardless of how much he wins by. To win the entire election a candidate must win the most amount of points) he was able to win the election with a minority of votes. Lincoln won all the states in the north and in the west which, because of their high population, were worth the most points.

This election caused the civil war because of what the southern states, the Confederate, perceived Lincoln to be. He was thought to be an abolitionist, meaning a person who wishes to abolish slavery completely. In fact Lincoln only wished to stop the spread of slavery, not to abolish it completely. He had no intention of changing the established social order in the south.

Historian J. J. Cosgrove sees Lincoln’s election as the straw that broke the camel’s back. He claims in his book, co-written with J. K. Kreiss, Two Centuries that the civil war can be put down to five causes; slavery; political collapse that eliminated compromise; sectional economic rivalry; Southern nationalism; and the effect of fractional minorities such as abolitionists. This can be summed up as a rift between the north and south states.

A rift between the north and the south had been present since the late eighteenth centaury. It began with the industrial revolution, which saw the northern states prosper. The north changed industries from farming and agriculture to textiles and factories. This in turn saw the rise of bankers and lawyers and northern cities such as New York became the known as the cultural centres of America. The southern states continued agriculture and many Southerners became very wealthy with the use of slaves. The invention of the cotton gin in 1792 by Eli Whitney increased the productivity by almost one thousand times. This caused more prosperity in the south. However the North also gained from this in the form of tariffs and taxes. Forty cents out of every dollar made from cotton went to the North. This...

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