Individuals That Contributed To The Civil War
The Civil War was brought about by many important
people, some that wanted to preserve and some that wanted
to eradicate the primary cause of the war, slavery. There
were the political giants, such as Abraham Lincoln, and
Stephen Douglas. There were seditious abolitionists such
as John Brown, escaped slaves such as Dred Scott, and
abolitionist writers like Harriet Beecher Stowe. These
were the people who, ultimately, brought a beginning to the
end of what Lincoln called “a moral, a social, and a
political wrong”(Oates 66).
Southern states, including the 11 states that formed
the Confederacy, depended on slavery to support their
economy. Southerners used slave labor to produce crops,
especially cotton. Although slavery was illegal in the
Northern states, only a small proportion of Northerners
actively opposed it. The main debate between the North and
the South on the eve of the war was whether slavery should
be permitted in the Western territories recently acquired
during the Mexican war, which included New Mexico, part of
California, and Utah. “Opponents of slavery were concerned
about its expansion, in part because they did not want to
compete against slave labor”(Oates 15).
In 1851, a literary event startled the country.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, an American writer and abolitionist,
wrote an antislavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that was
published serially in a newspaper and in book form in 1852.
“It was a forceful indictment of slavery and one of the
most powerful novels of its kind in American literature.
The success of the book was unprecedented, selling 500,000
copies in the United States alone within five years, and it
was translated into more than 20 foreign languages”(Oates
29). It was widely read in the States and abroad, and
moved many to join the cause of abolition. The South
indignantly denied this indictment of slavery. “Stowe’s
book increased partisan feeling over slavery and
intensified sectional differences. It did much to solidify
militant antislavery attitude in the North, and therefore
was an important factor in the start of the American Civil
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act,
which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and
stated that each territory could be admitted as a state
“with of without slavery, as their constitution may
prescribe at the time of their admission”(Oates 42). This
repealed the old dividing line between free and slave
states as set by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. With the
passage of this act, a new Lincoln emerged into the world
of politics. Although he was as ambitious for political
office as ever, he was now, for the first time in his
career, devoted to a cause. He became a forceful spokesman
for the antislavery forces.
In 1857, the Supreme Court of the United States added
to the mounting tension by its decision in the Dred Scott...