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Causes of the American Civil War -- a Detailed Summary

The causes of the American Civil war:


Why did the American Civil War break out in 1816?

The American Civil War started in 1861. It was predominantly a war between the North and Southern states. This war started due to many factors, but the North and South had very different views on heated political issues and the divide caused war to break out. Here are some of the reasons why the war started.

Long Term - During 1828 a tariff was introduced that put high taxes on goods imported into the United States. It was introduced because the Northern states wanted protection from foreign competition, however it meant that the Southern states had to pay an expensive premium on goods that they needed because they were not an Industrial economy. It also meant that countries had less money to spend on the Southern states agricultural products. This is a factor that led to the American Civil War because it annoyed the Southern states and it effected their economies, making people poorer and driving the states into action.

Short Term - When Abraham Lincoln was elected the Southern states worried because he was a known abolitionist and he had very little support in the South. He also had introduced many policies to help the North’s industry, but nothing to help the South. The fact that he was an abolitionist created an uneasy atmosphere in the South because they relied heavily on slavery and if he was to ban it their economy would collapse. Also, the South did not feel represented by Lincoln and did no believe that he should be the man in charge. These reasons could have led them to the secession.

Long Term - Nat Turner led a rebellion against the White people and went on a killing rampage, resulting in 60 deaths. The initial result concluded with the execution of many of the slaves involved and tougher rules and restrictions. However, it sparked a national debate about slave rights and whether slavery was immoral. This worried the South because without slavery, they would no longer have a thriving economy. This worry could have been one of the factors that forced them to go to war.

Long Term - Novelists had started to write about the reality of slavery. An example of this is Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was published in 1852 by Harriet Beecher. It was an anti-slave novel and was the second best selling book of the 19th century. These works of literature were predominately read by people in the North and perhaps the Southern states, that attempted to secede the Union, were feeling the social pressure that slavery was becoming less acceptable and felt that if they were run by themselves they would no longer be subjected to society’s pressures. This could be a contributing factor that drove the South to war.

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Long Term - The Southern and Northern states were so different: one had an industrial economy, whereas the other was mainly agricultural. In the North, large cities had formed and they were relied upon as the centres for trade and transport; these cities controlled social and political life in the North. In stark contrast, the South had a smaller population and plantation owners ran political and cultural life. These stark differences meant that politicians were finding it more difficult to cater for everyone and keep every state happy. Obviously, during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency the South felt that they were not being catered for and needed to seek action.

Long Term - Slavery was being outlawed in the North and by 1804 it did not exist in the North. On the other hand, slavery was flourishing in the South. When new land was claimed for America from the indigenous people, Americans started to populate them. A lot of tension was created when the South and North were deciding whether these new lands should be free from slavery. In 1854, the new lands being populated led to violence from the pro-slavery and anti-slavery people. Over fifty people were killed. I think this contributed to the Civil War because it created more hostility between the North and South.

Short Term - In 1859, a white abolitionist, called John Brown, attempted to revolt by seizing a weapons store in Virginia with twenty-two other men. Seven people died and the uprising was defeated by U.S. Marines. John Brown was hanged for his crimes, but - although he was a murderer to the South - he was seen as a martyr to the North and treated like a hero. This revolt directly effected the Southern states and probably scared and antagonised them, therefore being a contributing factor of the War.

Short Term - In 1860, South Carolina seceded from the US and 14 other Southern states followed. The seceded states went onto vote in Jefferson Davis as their president. The states hoped to form a new nation that protected slavery and the South’s culture.

Short Term - Finally, in 1861 Carolina’s major port was occupied by around one-hundred Union soldiers. The Confederate’s commander demanded that the soldiers surrendered. The soldiers denied his request and the Confederate shot at the port. The soldiers surrendered the next day, but this military action directly started the American Civil War.

To summarise, the American Civil War started because of the South and North’s different social views on slavery and the differing economy of the two sides The differing economy meant that the two sides were becoming more and more difficult to politically cater for and the threat of the abolition of slavery posed a substantial threat to the Southern state’s economies that made them fight.

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