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Causes Of The American Civil War

2186 words - 9 pages

""¦ but one of them would make a war rather than let the nation survive and the other would rather accept war rather than let it perish and the war came." -Abraham Lincoln March 4, 1865 What was the most significant cause of the American Civil War? Historians still debate this complex issue. While many theories exist, three main causes have come to the forefront of historical research, study, and discussion. The economic and cultural differences between the North and the South, when combined with the moral dilemma of slavery ignited the American Civil War. The Northern industrial economy, fueled by cheap immigrant labor, differed greatly from the slavery-driven, agricultural economy of the South. In addition, the socially mobile northern culture maintained different moral beliefs than the South's caste system, the enforcer of the rigid roles of slaves and landed gentry.Arguments between the North and South had been growing for more than thirty years. One important issue was over taxes paid on goods that were imported into this country from overseas. This tax was called a tariff. In 1828, Northern businessmen were instrumental in getting the "Tariff Act" passed. This act raised prices of goods manufactured in Europe and sold mainly in the South. Its purpose was to subtly force the South to buy the North's products. This angered the Southern people because they were forced to pay more for the goods they needed (Rozwenc). Although most of the tariff laws had been changed by the time the Civil War actually began, the Southerners never forgot how unfairly they were treated by the northern businessmen. Northerners accepted the ideal of free enterprise. The advantage of the states in the north concerning industry was immense. The North had countless factories employing immigrants in numerous industries. Manufacturing was mainly concentrated in New England and the Middle Atlantic states. Conversely, the South had only agriculture. Large plantation farms used slaves to harvest their crops. The South had few fast running rivers, which were needed to generate power for factories. Southerners did not believe in the northern society and found no reason to exchange old agricultural traditions for what they perceived to be unsafe investments and new ways of living. The United States developed two very different economic systems: the rural south and the industrialized north. Because these differences shaped two separate cultural and social patterns, it was impossible to combine these differing philosophies without heavy resistance from both sides (Nevins).During this period, the political system was formed into what it has become today; for example, two dominating political parties and the strong power of the president. When one tries to see just how the American Civil War came about, one need look no further than the two American Presidents who faced one another in the most terrible war America has fought. Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis did not...

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