The cause of the American Civil War has been a politicized subject for the past 152 years. There are many different theories for what the main cause is, however the best answer is an all of the above approach. The cause of the war that divided the nation cannot be narrowly defined into a single issue but each cause is affected and tied together. The main causes that resulted in the Civil War were the issue of nullification, tariffs, but most importantly just an overall difference in their ways of life. Yes, slavery was a cause of the war, but that was not one of the central causes that popular belief has engrained in us all, however, the role that slavery had will be discussed. These reasons all-fed off each other, which eventually resulted in the bloodiest war in American history and affected almost every single American family.
The first cause, that was most the popular belief for the cause of the Civil War, was the idea of slavery. Thomas Jefferson believed that slavery was, “Rock upon which the old Union would split” . While there is plenty to discuss why this was the cause of the war, the differences between the North and the South go much deeper then the question of slavery. Especially, since the Northern states tried slavery but it did not benefit them as well as it benefited the South. The last use of slaves in the North ended before 1850. While, slavery did play an influence and will be discussed how it did later, it is important to dispel some myths that have been lost in translation over the past 152 years.
To the average American today, when asked what caused the Civil War a majority will say, slavery was the immediate cause of the war. However, while the effect that slavery played is undeniable, the role that the institution actually had in the cause of the war is ambiguous. The role that slavery had on the political cause of the war or why soldiers fought depended mostly on whom you talked with. Most of the enlisted men who fought and died overwhelmingly said on both sides stated that the preservation or abolition of slavery was not the main cause of the war. James McPhearson’s book, For Causes and Comrades: Why Men fought in the Civil War, highlights these causes, and stated, “Relatively few Union volunteers mentioned the slavery issue when they enlisted” . McPhearson uses letters written home or diaries as his example and most do not touch upon the issue. The question of slavery truly became important after the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1862-3. The North started to string victories together, moved further down south, and they witnessed slavery firsthand. That is when the average Union soldier began to care about the issue of slavery, well into 1863.
The reason why most men enlisted in the Union in 1861 was for one major reason, that was patriotism and keeping the spirit of 1776 alive. The Northern view on the spirit of 1776 was the goal of preserving the Union that was created by the Founding...