The Causes of the American Civil War

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The Causes of the American Civil War

Category: Critical Thinking

Subcategory: History

Level: College

Pages: 2

Words: 550

The Causes of the American Civil War
The civil war of 1861-1865 is one of the most defining events in American history. The aftermath of the war had a great impact on the lives of Americans and the relationship between the Northern and Southern states. The real cause of the war is one of the most controversial things and has been debated by historians ever since the last gun went silent. Two opposing camps have emerged.
On one hand, there are those who argue that the war was solely caused by differing positions regarding the status of slavery by the warring sides. The Northerners were increasingly pushing against slavery as they were for abolition and the freeing of slaves. This is because the institution of slavery grew more unpopular and unattractive due to the presence of European immigrants who provided cheap labor. Furthermore, the economy of these states was driven by the industrial sector that made slaveholding an increasingly expensive affair. In addition to this, there are moralists such as the Quakers who actively fought for abolition arguing that it was immoral to keep using slave labor.
In contrast to this, the Southerners were firmly for slavery and would hear nothing about abolition. The main reason behind this position was the economic interests of these states. They for the most part driven by an agrarian sector that was greatly dependent on the labor provided by slaves. In the South, the cotton and tobacco industries were booming with massive exports to Europe, which together with local sales to the industries in the North made the Southern states economic powerhouses. They, therefore, feared that abolition would likely cripple their agricultural sector as it was a source of abundant and free labor, which guaranteed them of massive profits.
On the other hand, there are historians who are of the opinion that slavery was just one of the many reasons that caused the war. They argue that there were different intertwining events and positions that eventually culminated with each side taking up arms. One of these is the clamor for secession by the Confederate States. The 11 southern states that formed the Confederacy seceded from the Union and waged war on it until they were defeated. The main reasons behind this move were to protect the rights of states over the federal government. The Southerners believed so much that the federal government was overstepping its mandate and consequently infringing on the rights of states. They, therefore, fought to secede so as to protect the political liberty of their residents.
Another reason that has been blamed for fueling the war was the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860. Many Southerners viewed him suspiciously especially over his abolitionist stance as part of his campaign pledges. They also regarded him as being favorable to the North. They, therefore, were uncomfortable with the presidency under him. The election boiled over the disagreements that were already brewing even before his election. The abolitionist wave that he had ridden on to power was too hard to swallow for the Southerners. They, therefore, switched to the only solution they saw fit: War against the Union.
In retrospect, it can be concluded that regardless of the causes of the Civil War, one thing is for sure: it is a dark chapter in American history that should never have happened in the first place. The grievances could have been handled better through dialogue, and the war could have been avoided.