Causes of the Civil War



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Causes of the Civil War

http://www.mrburnett.net/APUSHistory/APUSHistory.htm




  1. Slavery – not on the minds of Northern soldiers when war started, but clearly an issue that pervaded all of the social, political and economic causes

    1. Would there have been a split without slavery – no – root of all conflicts

    2. Conflicts existed from birth of nation




  1. Economic – two competing industries – industrial north vs. agrarian south – free labor vs. slave labor

      1. Tariff battle for almost a century – south wants low, north high

        1. Believed in nullification of Congressional laws

          1. Goes back to Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions regarding Alien and Sedition Acts

        2. South needed low tariffs because they existed on King Cotton

ii. Recession of 1857 causes bigger divide


  1. Political

    1. Representation in Senate/Congress

      1. Every new state could ruin balance – both sides feared other side would try to mandate their society on the other federally

      2. Ostend Manifesto – slavery in Cuba as well as slavery in West? – bad news

    2. State power vs. Federal power

      1. Southern states still felt states were sovereign – goes back to Federalist/Anti-Federalist battle

c. Free Soil Party – 1847 – no slavery in territories


  1. Social – North sees south as aristocratic medieval country, South sees North as corrupt immigrant urban

    1. Abolitionisism – slavery moral wrong – Second Great Awakening

    2. Anti-aristocratic ethos – common man better than gentry south




  1. Catalysts – events that made both sides look evil, and created larger tension

    1. Compromise of 1850 – CA admitted, popular sovereignty, DC no slaves, tougher/enforced fugitive slave act

    2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Stowe – first glimpse of Europe and North of life in South – kept England out of war – queen allegedly cried

    3. Fugitive Slave Act – force Northerners to return blacks to South

    4. Kansas-Nebraska Act – 1854 split territories– dissenters create Republican Party

      1. Popular Sovereignty – let states decide for themselves – ignore 1820 compromise

      2. Bleeding Kansas – Jayhawkers vs. Bushwackers fight for control

        1. Pottawatomie Creek Massacre – Brown hacks bodies - radical

      3. Caning of Sumner – Senate violence after anti-South speech

    5. Realignment of Parties

      1. Whigs die

      2. Republicans – Northern party to outlaw slavery Free Soil + anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats

    6. Dred Scott – Justice Taney – slaves aren’t human/can’t sue – Comp. 1820 illegal

    7. Lecompton Compromise – bad Constitution proposal where your only choices were limited slavery or full slavery – anti-slavery people don’t even vote

    8. Lincoln Douglas Debates – run for Senator – Lincoln proves more logical for why slavery should not be expanded – loses Senate, but gains prominence

    9. John Brown – Harper’s Ferry – tries to take over South – idiot or martyr?

    10. Election of 1860 – S.C. threatens and does secede after Lincoln elected


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