American Civil War in the 1840s and 1850s – Essay Example

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The paper "American Civil War in the 1840s and 1850s" is an outstanding example of a history essay. The American civil war arguably made an indelible mark on the history of the U. S. The war, which occurred in the mid 19th century, was a show and test of might between the South and the North. The years preceding the war were characterized by distrust between the two spheres of the country which could have been avoided if the causative factors had been dealt with early enough. While the Northerners believed that the Southern states were out to destroy their freedom, the Southerners believe that any of the Northern intentions were good.

The suspicions soon gave rise to complicated tensions which inevitably led to war (Formby 7). The shift in political power in the north was one of the major causes of the war. The population in the north was increasing more rapidly than in the south. This led to the South losing most of its political power to the populous north. As years went by and the Northern states became more assertive of their political supremacy, the southern states saw this as a threat and started demanding for freedom from the Washington-based Federal authority.

While the Southerners favored state laws, the northern states thought that federal laws carried more weight (Kingseed 6). The issue that sparked a controversy that contributed to the civil war was slavery. The economy of the country at this time gained a lot from agriculture, which happened to be the mainstay of the South. Since the early colonial period, slavery was a part of American life both in the south and in the north; however, it was more acceptable in the South since slaves had more to offer there.

The economic differences between the north and the south contributed to the differences in the slavery debate. Most Southern farmers used slaves for labor in their expansive cotton and sugarcane farms. The attitude towards slavery in the north soon changed as the region became more industrialized and less reliant on slave labor. Northerners felt that slavery was an uncivilized practice and urged the Southern states to abolish it.

However, the Southerners were not ready to let go of their cheap source of labor which was well protected in the State and federal laws. The slavery issue created a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding between the two regions, which in the long run led to the abolitionist movement (Formby 86) Expansion opportunities in the west also caused considerable tension between the north and the south. The northern states wanted the new western territories to be free of slavery while the Southerners wanted the new territories to support slavery.

The rise of the Republican Party also played a significant role in the events that preceded the civil war. The party was formed by Northerners who believed that they were more superior to the Southerners who still embraced slavery. The party was formed as a reaction to the seeming unwillingness of the Democrats and the Whig Party to talk about the thorny issue of slavery. The Republicans fronted themselves as the nationalists, a party that spoke for all. They insisted that they were supporters of the Protestant work ethic which was characterized by religion, education and hard work (Kingseed 45).

Events Leading to the War One of the major events that preceded the war was the end of the Mexican War in 1848 which paved the way for western expansion. The problem with this was that the Northern states wanted the new territories to be free while the Southern states wanted them to support slavery. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which required all federal officials to arrest any runaway slave caused an uproar in the North.

This law saw many abolitionists to increase its pressure for the enactment of antislavery laws which the South did not want to embrace. The 1859 raid on Harper’ s Ferry led by John Brown was another event that sparked the war. The raid was meant to start an antislavery uprising but it failed and Brown was arrested and hanged. This fuelled even more abolitionists’ pressure in the north. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 led to the secession of South Carolina and a host of other states from the Union.

Being a Republican and an anti-slavery advocate, Lincoln was viewed with suspicion by Southerners who used his election as an excuse to go to war (Formby 127). Conclusion The American Civil war cost America a lot in terms of resources and loss of human life. Although it was important even that led the states to become united, it could have been avoided if the causes had been dealt with properly by both the Southern and Northern states. Slavery, politics and economic differences played a big role in the war.

The North was industrialized and was not reliant on slaves as much as the South. The Southerners supported strong state-level governments as opposed to a federal government which was popular with the northerners. The economy of the south was not as stable and advanced as that of the north. All these factors combined to cause a lot of distrust and eventual war between the north and south.

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