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The American Civil War: The Inevitable Confrontation

1908 words - 8 pages

Since the beginning of the Market Revolution, the institution of slavery became the leading factor that intensified the relations between the North and the South. Regarding the geographic differences between the North and South, the South was primarily agrarian and the North was mainly urban. Therefore, the North rapidly industrialized while the South remained relatively rural and cotton-slave based. As a result, the Market Revolution economically separated the North and the South and created a second party system. Thus, the issues of pro-slavery and anti-slavery arose between the Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans in the 1850s. The North desired to halt the expansion of slavery into western territories while the South strongly opposed. These two opposing parties led to radical abolitionism in the North, William Henry Seward and John Brown, and extreme secessionism in the South, James Henry Hammond, and South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. Due to their strict ideologies regarding slavery, both parties could not compromise on the issue of the expansion of slavery. Therefore, according to Americans in the years prior to the Civil War, conflict was inevitable.
As a central figure in the Republican Party and passionate advocate for anti-slavery, William Henry Seward characterized the conflict between the Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans as inevitable. Each political party had two radically different ideologies regarding the expansion of slavery into western territories. The Southern Democrats believed that slavery should exist in all western states while the Northern Republicans strongly disagreed. Similar to the ideologies of the Republicans, Seward believed that slavery was unjust and humans were granted the rights of freedom. Furthermore, he compared both labor systems to that of foreign countries’. The free labor system in Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, and Holland represented strength, freedom, and wealth whereas the slave system in Central America demonstrated poverty and anarchy. As Seward stated in his speech, “Irrepressible Conflict,” “It is necessarily improvident and ruinous, because, as a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, just the degree that they practise the primary duties of justice and humanity.” Therefore, America was influenced by the ideals of the greater countries. Also, the free labor system brought equality to all social classes in the fields of employment. For instance, a factory worker had the same rights as a clergyman. Therefore, the system provided political, moral, and social structure equally within the entire state. As a result, in a nation where free labor predominated, democracy could be achieved. However, in a nation where slave labor prevailed, aristocracy would succeed. According to Seward, America was based on the principles of democracy not anarchy. Thus, Seward forewarned in his speech, “It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring...

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