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The American Civil War Was Avoidable

1139 words - 5 pages

The American Civil War was Avoidable

     The explosion of the American Civil War was caused by a vast number of conflicting principles and prejudices, fueled by sectional differences, and set afire by a very unfortunate set of political events. Undoubtedly, the central theme of almost all of the events that led up to the Civil War was one way or another, related to the dispute of slavery. Throughout the nineteenth century, slavery-related tensions brewed to such an extent, that politicians often took accustom to avoiding the hot topic altogether, because they were too scared of either starting a big political feud, or losing votes from one side of the issue or the other. More specifically, three events that were most instrumental in bringing about the Civil War were the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the Presidential election of 1860. Because of such strong reactions to these events, the Civil War was practically unstoppable, however if the parties wanted to avoid a war altogether, they could have advocated more compromise and popular sovereignty.
     As previously mentioned, slavery was at the root of most tensions that arose between the North and the South, and the annexation of new land created much conflict concerning the status of slavery. Missouri Compromise dictated that the lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36¢ª30¡¯ parallel were to be free of slavery. Democratic senator Douglas, introduced a bill in early 1854 which proposed the division of the Nebraska Territory into two units, Kansas and Nebraska, and the application of his idea of ¡°popular sovereignty¡± which would allow the territorial vote to decide the area¡¯s status concerning slavery. This proposal would, in effect, repeal the Missouri Compromise, which greatly angered abolitionists and Northerners. Douglas and Southern supporters won a congressional debate and shortly after, the bill was signed. With the passage of this bill, many conflicts arose. Much personal turmoil erupted in the territories with almost immediate tragic results in ¡°Bleeding Kansas.¡± Also, the bill resulted in a complete realignment of the major political parties: The Democrats lost influence in the North and were to become the regional proslavery party of the South, the Whig Party, which had opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, died in the South and was weakened in the North, and a new Republican Party emerged as an immediate political force, drawing in anti-Nebraska Whigs and Democrats. As political issues became more specialized and regional-based, these changes in political structure greatly increased conflicts regarding slavery, creating major factors leading to an inevitable Civil War. If the parties involved wanted to avoid a war, the smartest move would have been to shoot down the bill initially. Douglas and the South should have approached the issue more subtly. Douglas could have introduced a compromise with the North, in exchange with the intentions of applying popular sovereignty...

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