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In A Complete Essay, Describe The Events That Lead Up To The Start Of The Civil War.

1334 words - 5 pages

The Civil War was caused by a myriad of conflicting pressures, principles, and prejudices, fueled by sectional differences and pride, and set into motion by a most unlikely set of political events.At the root of all of the problems was the institution of slavery, which had been introduced into North America in early colonial times. The American Revolution had been fought to validate the idea that all men were created equal, yet slavery was legal in all of the thirteen colonies throughout the revolutionary period. Although it was largely gone from the northern states by 1787, it was still preserved in the new Constitution of the United States, not only at the request of the Southern ones, but also with the approval of many of the Northern delegates who saw that there was still much money to be made in the slave trade by the Yankee shipping industry.At the Constitutional Convention there were arguments over slavery. Representatives of the Northern states claimed that if the Southern slaves were mere property, then they should not be counted toward voting representation in Congress. Southerners, placed in the difficult position of trying to argue, at least in this case, that the slaves were human beings, eventually came to accept the three-fifths compromise, by which five slaves counted as three free men toward that representation. By the end of the convention the institution of slavery itself, though never specifically mentioned, was well protected within the body of the Constitution.It seemed to many that slavery was on its way out. It was becoming increasingly expensive to keep slaves in the agrarian society of the south. Northern and Southern members of Congress voted together to abolish the importation of slaves from overseas in 1808, but the domestic slave trade continued to flourish. The invention of the cotton gin made the cultivation of cotton on large plantations using slave labor a profitable enterprise in the South. Slaves became an even more important element of the southern economy, and so the debate about slavery, for the southerner, gradually evolved into an economically based question of money and power, and ceased to be a theoretical or ideological issue at all. It became an institution that southerners felt bound to protect.But even as the need to protect it grew, the ability, or at least the perceived ability of the South to do so was diminishing. Southern leaders became more sensitive to this condition. In 1800 half of the population of the United States had lived in the South. But by 1850 only a third lived there and the disparity continued to widen. While northern industrial opportunity attracted large amounts of immigrants from Europe in search of freedom the South's population stagnated. Even as slave states were added to the Union to balance the number of free ones, the South found that its representatives in the House had been overwhelmed by the North's explosive growth. More and more emphasis was now placed on maintaining...

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