The Causes of the Civil War


Lincoln’s election would eliminate slavery



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Lincoln’s election would eliminate slavery

  • Were the Northern Personal Liberty laws a manifestation of “states rights”? If so then why did the South not oppose them?

  • If Ely Whitney had not invented the cotton gin – someone else would have the design is too simple and too obvious.


    Would the Civil War have happened if slavery had never existed in America?

    • There is a states’ rights issue but the dominant right is the right to own slaves.

    • South in the 1850’s is DEMOCRATIC in its politics – the Democratic Party controlled the South well into the 1930’s.



    Was the Civil War inevitable after secession? Debate after secession turned from a debate over Slavery to a debate about what is means to have a UNION.
    Is secession under the Constitution a legitimate exercise of state sovereignty? If the North thought it was OK then they would not have opposed it!

    The South thought that if a state could join a union then a state could Unjoin (leave) the union.

    • Note Texas was given the option at the time that it joined the union that it could split into 5 states if it so chose.

    • Ratification of the constitution bypassed the state legislatures and went directly to the people of the state. Therefore it was reasoned that it was the people who must decide the issue of remaining in the Union or not and not the state governments.

    • Did the Declaration of Independence in and of itself confer “the right to alter & abolish” the government. The South used this idea to support its own position but did not borrow the part about “all men are created equal”.

    • Does the Confederate Constitution allow for states to leave the Confederacy? It does say that “each state acting in its sovereign capacity does ordain and establish this confederacy.


    William Holden, 1863 – 1864 Candidate for Governor in North Carolina suggested that NC re attach itself to the US. Jefferson Davis suggested that this was treasonous talk. This is a contradiction. It suggests that sovereignty is a one way street.




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