Causes Of The American Civil War

2192 words - 9 pages

"War is the unfolding of miscalculations." - Barbara Tuchman

Lasting from 1861 to 1865, the Civil War is considered the bloodiest war in American history. However, the Civil War had seemingly been a long time coming. There were many events that took place within the fifteen years leading up to the Civil War that foreshadowed the eventual secession of seven “cotton states” from the Union. The end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, and the outcome of the Presidential Election of 1860 all helped contribute to southern secession and the start of the Civil War; they each caused conditions that either strengthened the abolitionist cause, strengthened the pro-slavery cause, or strengthened both causes respectively; although the conditions made many Southerners want to leave the United States, the Northerners were adamant on going to war to preserve the Union.
After winning the Mexican-American War in 1848, the United States gained the western territories, which included modern-day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, as well as parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. However, controversial topics, that helped cause the Civil War, arouse with the addition of these new territories. Primarily, the people of the United States wanted to know whether the new territories would be admitted as free states or slave states. In order to avoid fighting between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North, Henry Clay (Whig) and Stephen Douglas (Democrat) drafted the Compromise of 1850. Although the compromise was created to stop conflict between the free states and the slave states, it seemed to have caused more problems for the nation—it made it more likely that the nation would fight a war.
Although the allotted provisions of the Compromise of 1850 created a sense of relief between the South and the North, it was also met with dismay. By 1848, the Senate of the United States was divided equally—fifteen free states and fifteen slave states; therefore, if the new territories entered as free or slave states, the balance of power would be tipped to either the former or the latter. The Compromise was comprised of five bills. The first stated that California would enter the nation as a free state; the second abolished the slave trade (but not slavery) in Washington, D.C; the third allowed the residents of the Territories of Utah and New Mexico to choose whether or not they would enter the nation as a free or slave state (known as popular sovereignty); the fourth bill passed the Fugitive Slave Act; the fifth bill reduced the size of Texas (gave up much of its western land), which was given compensation as to relieve their debt. The fourth bill was the most controversial, as well as the most impactful. The Fugitive Slave Act stated that all federal...

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