The Causes of the Civil War


The Crittenden Compromise



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The Crittenden Compromise
- guarantee that slavery would never be abolished by Constitutional Amendment or by other means. EVER. This in turn would make for an unamendametable amendment. The only thing in the constitution that cannot be change is in regard to the Senate and the fact that it can not cease to exist.


  • it would redraw the 36 – 30 line to allow slavery to expand.

  • Note. The original 13th amendment i.e. the Crittenden compromise would have guaranteed slavery forever.




  • Lincoln didn’t oppose this because he said it only guaranteed something already guaranteed in the Constitution that is the right to keep and own property.



Fort Sumter


  • If Lincoln had negotiated with South Carolina to turn over Ft. Sumter, the very act of negotiation would have been an act of recognition of the legitimacy of the southern government.

  • In the same way Lincoln sends a message to the Governor of SC that he is going to re-supply Ft. Sumter.

  • After a plea from Major Anderson – any action by the North to “coerce” the South would have resulted in other states leaving the Union.


As war loomed on the horizon several Border States called for a convention of moderates to meet in D.C. to discuss the issues. Former president, Virginian John Tyler was to preside over these talks. This was commonly called the “Old Gentleman’s Convention”.


  • Trading a state for a fort was not a bad bargain. Lincoln delayed any further action in regards to Sumter until he could find out what this convention decided. He wanted Virginia to remain in the union and if that meant evacuation Sumter to get it he would have done it.

  • In his inaugural address Lincoln signaled that it was his intent to “hold, occupy and posses all federal property. Gen. Winfield Scott recommends that we “shoot our way into the fort with 20,000 troops.

  • In reality we didn’t even have this many troops in our army.

  • American Secretary of State William Seward used – Judge Campbell – as a contact with the South Carolina commissioners to avoid the appearance of the US negotiating with a foreign power.


Montgomery Blair, the postmaster general had a brother in law – Gustavaus Fox – he says that we can run supplies into the fort to re-supply them under the cover of darkness.
Lincoln chose to do this openly – If the SC govt. would allow it he said we would not send in troops but if SC opposed it then he would send in troops. The Ball in now in their court. If a war was going to start the government of South Carolina was going to have to start it.
Force the flag to be lowered over a federal facility and you have undertaken as act of aggression and humiliation.
By April 1865 – most Republican newspapers still wanted the flag to continue flying over Ft. Sumter. Lincoln’s solution put the onus squarely on the South.
Lincoln wins both ways – If supplies go in to the fort then South Carolina and the South looses face. If Jefferson Davis attacks first then the South has started the war.
If Ft. Sumter doesn’t exist – then does the war start anyway? YES
Slavery leads to secession and secession leads to rebellion

From mere disunion to “open rebellion” when shots are fired on Sumter.





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