Civil War The Civil war rages, the War between the States has become known as the bloodiest war ever fought. The Civil War divided the United States between its Northern and Southern states. The battles lingered for long years, but the consequences of the war have endured time. The start of the war began with the firing on Ft. Sumter by the Southern states and lasted until General Robert E Lee surrendered his southern troops at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865. The War pitted brother against brother in attempts to retain a way of life and thinking.
Although there has not been agreement on the major causes of the War, this essay will explore possible immediate causes and long term causes of the War. The immediate causes of the war that will be discussed are the election of Lincoln as president, the quest of the South to succeed from the Union, and the firing on Fort Sumter. The longer term causes discussed will be economic differences between the North and South, failure of Congress to compromise and the slavery and territory issues. The immediate causes of the War were the election of Lincoln as president. The fire-eaters threatened secession because of Lincoln’s affiliation with abolitionist.
The Southern states wanted their independence respected by the national government. The preservation of the way of life in the Southern states was of utmost importance. In opposition to legislation that would strengthen the national government the Confederacy rejected the demands of the Union. The Southern states believed that the right to succeed from the Union was within the doctrine of states’ rights. Secessionist believed that the national government was a conglomeration of sovereign states and that any state had the legal right to remove itself from the Union.
As Lincoln gave his inaugural speech he declared that secession was illegal and that he would acquire Southern possessions. One of these Southern holds would be Fort Sumter, which is located in the heart of the South. On April 12, the Confederacy fired upon Sumter to capture better position to defend initiated the battle that would culminate into the bloodiest War ever. The economic climates of the North and South differed a great deal. The North’s economy depended heavily upon industry. The South was based on an agricultural economy, which produced such cash crops as tobacco, cotton, and sugar would suffer great hardships.
Secession was key to the survival of the South and its way of life. Without secession the South would have to face an economy without its cheap resource, slave labor. Southerners felt that slavery should be the foundation of their society and it was more of a necessity than an evil. With expansion facing Congress, the issue of slavery played a key role in the division of the Union. Anti-slavery advocates demanded that slavery be left out of the new territories.
Legislation was continuously introduced into Congress that would limit the span of slave labor, however the South responded by stating that could not be prohibited from any land that was in the Union. The slavery issue was a constant in legislation with Congress, various compromises attempted to settle the issue but with no solution. Popular-sovereignty was a compromised that would have allowed the territory itself to establish the laws on slavery, but proved damaging to the cause of the Anti-slavery activist because it allowed slavery in states that had previously determined it to be illegal. In order for the issue to be resolved and to keep the Southern states from seceding the Union a compromise needed to be reached. Of the compromises submitted to the national government, the Crittenden Compromise was the most popular.
The Crittenden Compromise attempted to protect the system of slavery by establishing amendments that would limit the national governments ability to abolish it. This Compromise was not successful because of Lincoln’s strong stand against the institution of slavery. The failure to compromise between Congress lead to further division amongst the States. The actions of the North and the South and their failure to compromise lead to the most costly war in human casualties ever. The destruction of the South’s way of life and a new Union were the direct results of war. The eventual collapse of slavery and the total collapse of the South’s economy, along with Lincoln’s leadership brought forth a new nation and economic structure.
This new structure brought tariffs favoring for manufacturing, free homesteads, and central banking, and railways for everyone. The division of the states has long been felt with the heritage of hatred that remained following the war. The War was the beginning and ending of a way of life for all, and the beginning of an expansion era of the United States.