Civil War in America Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  894 Words
Date:  2022-10-11


The Civil War is one of the most studied historical events in American history. It played an important role in shaping American society, as well as securing the nation's identity. The Civil War lasted more than four years and resulted in thousands of deaths. It began in 1861 shortly after Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. The controversy over slavery is the main cause of the Civil War. However, it is difficult to understand the circumstances that led to the war. These events could have been delayed, but war would have erupted between the Southern States and the Northern States if not for the complex analysis. The discussion on the economic and political factors that led to the Civil War demonstrates this.

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Economic causes of conflict

The differences in economic development between the North and South were a major cause of the conflict. According to Davidson et. al., the rapid development of a railroad network and the economic changes that followed had put the Southern states in a stable position (270). Southern states capitalized upon cotton production which required low-cost labor. Davidson et. al. also found that the Southern States had a lower rate of immigration, which increased their dependence on slavery. 273). Despite the rise in slave prices, farmers had no choice but to develop the cotton trade and other agricultural industry without slavery. Their disadvantageous position would have been worse than that of the Northern states if slavery had been abolished. The Southerners were bound to object to abolishing slavery in their states when there was a debate about slavery before the Civil War.

The political perspective saw the Civil War as inevitable because of the inequal power that made it seem like the Southern States were under threat. Calhoun claims that the Southern States believed they couldn't remain in the Union "consistently and with honor and safety" (1). Indeed, Davidson et al. The Southerners were concerned that the North would use its banking and commerce power to make the South a colony (273). These beliefs were influenced by the pattern of industrialization and trade relations between the North-South, as well as the commissions and fees that benefited Northerners. Although the notion of colonization of South America was false, Southerners' perceptions contributed to their reactions towards the political imbalance and increased tensions.

The power imbalance

Instability in regulations further escalated the power conflict, which made it impossible to reach a lasting agreement. This was especially evident in the Kansas-Nebraska Act which repealed Missouri Compromise. In 1954, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois presented the bill. This led to tensions rising on the basis the slavery controversy (United States Senate). The bill was based upon the demand to organize Nebraska's territories in order to build railroads (United States Senate). Douglas required the support of Southern Senators to pass a policy to organize the territory. This meant that he had to address the issue of slavery by explicitly repealing the Missouri Compromise (Davidson et al. 273). Douglas moved to draft a bill to satisfy their needs.


Despite the risk of repealing Missouri Compromise due to growing tensions between pro and anti-slavery groups. However, Senator was determined to support the development of railroads east to west. Davidson et. al. explain that the bill created two territories, Kansas, which is directly west of Missouri and a larger Nebraska Territory, west of Iowa. [...] Douglas believed that popular sovereignty would determine the status and fate of slavery in both territories. (274). Both pro-slavery as well as anti-slavery activists flooded both areas to try to influence the decision. Davidson et al. Davidson et al. explain that tensions escalated in Kansas, leading to violent episodes that would become known as Bleeding Kansas (276).

These events led to a rise in opposition between the South & the North. This would lead to the election of Abraham Lincoln (Liu.68) and the secessionist movement of 11 Southern States. Lincoln's speech, "A House Divided" demonstrates that he believed it was impossible to find a middle ground. Then one side would prevail in the end. This would foster unity in the nation. This idea was opposed to the arguments of Calhoun, who supports middle-ground measures. Lincoln's election as President of the United States meant that he supported the idea of bringing about resolution through a crisis and not compromise.


The analysis shows that the Civil War could be postponed by a compromise. The most pressing causes of war could have been avoided by enforcing the Missouri Compromise, achieving balance of power, and economic development between the North-South. But, the division of states over such an important issue as constitutional rights for people would have resulted in a violent conflict. If the war had been started later in American history it might have had more serious consequences such as permanent secession of some states. Lincoln's decision to end the war once and for all was a good thing. It helped preserve American unity and ensured American national identity.

Works Cited

Calhoun, John C. John C. Calhoun, senator from South Carolina, Speaking before the Senate, March 4, 1850. 1850, Web.

Davidson, James West, et al. U.S.: A Narrative History. 8th ed., vol. 1, McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.

Lincoln, Abraham. House Divided Speech. 1858, Web.

Liu, Han. “Three Arguments of Right to Secession in the Civil War: International Perspectives.” Hastings International & Comparative Law Review, vol. 41, no. 1, 2018, pp. 53-97.

United States Senate. “The Kansas-Nebraska Act.”, n.d., Web.

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