Why did America Experience a Civil War?


In many ways, there are unusual issues that were arose in the United States in the Southern and Northern territories. This is because while the South was based on an agrarian economy, the North was rather industrialized. In result, there was the development of diverse societal cultures, as well as political ideals. Eventually, these differences resulted in differences in a number of issues including taxes, internal development, tariffs, state rights verses central rights.


One the key causes of the Civil War was slavery (KET). In essence, it was one of the very strong concerns that resulted in the disorder of the harmonious union that existed between the Northern and the Southern states. Both sides had opposing ideas concerning the prospects of slavery in America. In many ways, the dispute over the future of slavery actually resulted in secession. This led to the Civil War, whereby the Northern as well as the Western territories clashed over the preservation of the amalgamation. However, the South decided to fight to set up Southern autonomy as a novel confederacy of states within its individual legal charter.

As a result of being agrarian, the South made use of the slaves who were instrumental in cultivating large agricultural estates, as well as performing other household duties. As a matter of fact, just before the Civil War, there were well over four million Africans and their descendants who worked as slaves in the Southern states. In many ways, the Southern economy was reliant on the slaves, in spite of the fact that only a tiny fraction of the Southern populace were in ownership of the slaves.

Slaves were in a position of being borrowed, traded, or even sold to settle unpaid sums. In this way, any individual who owned a number of slaves was highly respected and held in high regard. Just like any other business, being in possession of slaves in the South was a sign of personal as well as corporate wealth. It should also be noted that there was a decrease in the land and cotton prices, even as the value of slaves skyrocketed.

On the other hand, the North began to gradually abolish slavery. This was mainly in result of immigrants moving from Germany and Ireland throughout the potato shortage. This, in turn, assured the North of a steady pool human labor (RPF). Most of these people could be taken into service cheaply, thus reducing the necessity to hang on to the tradition of making use of slave labor.

Additionally, due to the fact that the Northern states were Free states, there was a law which prohibited the sale or purchase of slaves. However, this was the exact opposite in the South. While in the North laborers were paid to work in factories, slaves in the South worked on the plantations for free, gathering cotton and doing other menial jobs.

The emergence of new territories also brought about tension among the states. This is mainly because the South was of the view that the new territories ought to be declared to be part of the Union states where slaves could be used. This is mainly because they desired to stop the slaves from escaping into free territories. On the other hand, the North desired the new regions to be free.

It ought to be taken into account that that other individuals thought that the new territories ought to posses the civil liberty to take part in elections on the possibility of being slave or Free states. This was also known as the Slaves’ Rights. Eventually, a consensus was reached at, which is known as the Compromise of 1850 (KET). Unfortunately, this compromise was only able to last for a few years. According to the concession, escapee slaves were compelled to go back to their masters. The abolitionists had the idea that they were not going to abide by the said law.

Furthermore, there was agitation among the Southern states on the issue of making their own laws, instead of laws being made by the Federal Government. On the other hand, the North wanted to ensure that the responsibility of making laws ought to be left to the Federal Government. There was also a debate on whether the newly formed states ought to be Free states or slave states. Consequently, the Southern states resolved to break away from the US, a situation which led to the break out of the Civil War.

The Growth of the Abolition Movement

It is also worth noting that another reason that led to the war in the US was the growth of the abolitionist movement. Increasingly, the Northerners became more polarized against slavery. As a result, there was a growth of sympathizers who started to support abolitionists and were also sympathetic to slaves. This was mainly after the publishing of a number of books and articles, like John Brown’s Raid, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as the Dred Scott Case (KET).

In the 1830s, the Abolitionist Movement wanted to see the abolition of the institution of slavery all over the United States. In many ways, they became more clamorous and powerful. They were also known to abide to a ‘higher law’ rather than Constitution of the United States, in such a way, an escapee from some state, ought to be considered an escapee in all states. Together with the publications, the fugitive Act was responsible for promoting abolishing of slavery all over the United States. Even as time went by, abolitionists also grew more vociferous in their demands for the abolition of slavery. On the other hand, slave owners also became well-established in their trade. This eventually led to the fueling of regional discordance that in due course led to the Civil War in the United States (RPF).

Dred Scott Case

Dred Scott was actually a slave who moved with his master, Dr. John Emerson, from one Army post to another, while continuing to be Emerson’s slave. After having lived in a free state for some time, they went back to Missouri, which was a slave state. However, following the demise of Emerson, Scott decided to file a suit for his sovereignty, which he apparently won. He was able to assert that he was free, having previously lived in a free state as well as a free territory for some period of time. However, the Missouri Supreme Court upturned the pronouncement of the lesser court (KET). Eventually, the Supreme Court endorsed the ruling of the Missouri Supreme Court. This meant that Scott had to continue being a slave.

This case had major ramifications on the debate around the Slave verses Free states in the United States. This is because the verdict had the effect of striking down the Missouri compromise, as well as the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In many ways, the Missouri compromise was effective in determining which states were free and which ones were slaves. On the other hand, the Kansa-Nebraska Act, which was effective in establishing the principle of popular sovereignty, was deeply affected.

Eventually, the territories that included the Kansas as well as Nebraska were in a position of entering the union as free or slave on the basis of a popular vote. The Dred Scott case actually overturned both of the legislative acts, thus leading to a lot of apprehension involving the South and the North. This was instrumental in giving a push to the Civil War in the United States.

John Brown

One of the notable American abolitionists was John Brown, a staunch believer in the equality of races. At some point, he decided to settle in Kansas, a free state, in order to win freedom. The success of proslavery forces aroused his passion and together with his sons and other men, he savagely killed five proslavery men who were living in the banks of Pottawatomie Creek. In this act, he affirmed that he was an instrument in the hand of God. His exploits as an antislavery leader received a lot of publicity and received several publications. Later on, his death was a big blow to abolitionists who regarded him as a martyr.

Abraham Lincoln’s Election

In such a difficult situation, the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the United States has given a push for its further complication. This is mainly because the South believed that Lincoln was largely against slavery and greatly favored the Northern states. Lincoln supported the abolition of slavery; in result, following his election, some states like South Carolina decided to secede. Other states joined it to form the Confederate States of America (CSA).

The main reason why they decided to secede was because their economies were largely dependent on slaves and the election of Lincoln would result in the collapse of their economies. These states also believed that each and every state had the right to vote concerning any particular law. The secession of the Southern States led to the break out of the Civil War.

Works Cited

Kentucky Education Television (KET). Causes of Civil War. Web. May 22, 2013. <http://www.ket.org/civilwar/causes.html>

Ron Paul Forums (RPF). Real Reasons for Civil War. Web. May 22, 2013. <http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?125433-Real-reasons-for-the-Civil-War>