CAKE- What Caused the Civil War?

In 1861, sectional differences between the North and the South in the United States erupted into a civil war. The South succeeded from the union because of differences in economy, moral views about slavery, and political tension. Tensions stretched for many years until moral and political conflicts finally exploded after the election of Abraham Lincoln.
During the 1840s, the North’s population increased rapidly. Immigrants began to migrate in large numbers to the United States in order to escape internal troubles in their countries. Some immigrants, mainly the Germans, moved to the Northwest to become agricultural workers, however; the majority of immigrants settled in cities. As a result, many cities populations nearly doubled in a short amount of time. For example, New York City’s populations nearly tripled when immigrants began to settle there. One of the reasons that immigrants flocked to the cities in the North, is because of the regions manufacturing economy. The Northeast’s farm land was exhausted and the Northeastern region could not compete with the Northwest. The Northwest was a region added to the United States in 1803, called the Louisiana Purchase. The west began to fill with American citizens and eventually the western territories became states. Since most of the Northeast’s lands were worn out from excessive farming, the region needed a new source of wealth. The factory system was created to make manufactured products faster, easier, and cheaper for Americans. Factory workers in the 1820s were mainly young women that worked for decent wages and hours, called the Lowell System. The workers were given a place to live, free food, and a supervised life of safety, however; the Lowell System eventually could not afford these luxuries for the workers. The factory workers were given poorer wages and longer work hours. When the immigrants settled in New York, the factories supplied 1/3 of the nation’s jobs. The Irish made up a large part of immigrants and “became part of the unskilled labor force.” The unskilled force were the workers that worked long hours with little pay. Usually their jobs did not require a specific skill that was required in skilled artisans. The North soon became very wealthy from the large immigration rate and paying low wages for their labor. Manufactured goods now became equally valuable as the South’s agricultural goods, yet; the North still tried to improve the delivery of products in a faster, cheaper, and easier way than turnpikes. The Erie Canal is a man made waterway that connected the Atlantic coast to the Midwest water ways. The Erie Canal was the biggest project had tackled during the 1800s. Work on the Erie Canal began on July 4th, 1817 and ended in October of 1825. The canal was instant success and it soon replaced turnpikes (privately owned roads that Americans had to pay to use) and spawned many other canal projects to connect the East coast to the Midwest. The canal began a profitable trade between the Northwest and the Northeast and untied the two regions in ideas and culture. Along with canals, railroads began to appear too. Railroads consisted of steam powered trains that could carry large amounts of cargo on land, at very high speeds. The railroads and canals created faster trading methods and routes that soon inspired faster ways of communication; such as the creation of Morse code and telegraph companies. Western Union was a telegraph company that used Morse code to send messages to far away places by electrical wire. The electrical wire paths were usually stretched across railways to existing cities. Now news and ideas could be shared faster through wires than before; which consisted of mail or direct confrontation.
The South, however; did not become a major manufacturing region like its North counterpart. Agriculture served as the most central profit in the South; which consisted of cash crops such as tobacco, food, and most importantly; cotton. Cotton became very profitable and the South soon became known as the “Cotton Kingdom,” because many southerners depended on this cash crop. To harvest and maintain the growth of cotton, slaves were used as cheap labor. All slaves in America were black and many of them lived on either large plantations or they were owned by “plain folk.” On large plantations, the owner usually did not know who his slaves were and usually had no existing paternal relationships. The slaves worked out in the fields in large numbers and were worked by hired slave drivers. The slave drivers did the owner’s dirty work such as whipping the slaves or other cruel punishments. “Plain Folk” was the majority of slave owners in the South. Plain Folk owned a small number of slaves and generally worked alongside them. Paternal relationships between the slaves and master frequently existed. Unlike the North, the South was not concerned with changing their economy style: the slave plantations were already very profitable. Since the Southerners were too focused with maintaining the plantation economy, they rarely built canals, railroads, or maintained the existing roads. Instead, the South kept with using Steamboats to deliver raw material to port cities on the Mississippi River. Though the two sections were equally wealthy, the North had advanced economically and industrially more than the South by 1861.
Throughout American history, some citizens have opposed slavery but made little opposition to end it. In 1820, however; William Lloyd Garrison started to motivate Americans to end slavery. William Lloyd Garrison was a Quaker that slavery was completely immoral. Garrison started his own newspaper called The Liberator in the Northeast in 1820. The Liberator spoke openly against slavery and Garrison shared his own opinions in a commanding type of message. The paper became popular and Garrison gained a following. Abolitionist groups soon began to form in the North and started to demand the end of slavery. Abolitionists, however; were dived between two types: moderates and radicals. The radicals usually were more influential to the northern public, such as Garrison and his followers. For example Garrison seriously believed that the North should succeed from the South. Propaganda was widely used and some novels were written to discourage slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an anti-slavery novel entitled Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This piece of literature was very influential to the North because it reached a bigger audience. Thousands of copies were sold and plays were created and acted out to the American public. The book “inflamed sectional tensions to a new level of passion,” and when Abraham Lincoln, our future president, met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he said “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war.” Though the North’s passion to end slavery grew, the South’s opposition grew fierce. Violence was widely used by the South to try and stop the abolitionist influence. Mobs were formed to protest against abolitionism and in several instances, the protesters set fire to abolitionist buildings, harassed leaders/followers of the other group, and sometimes even killed them. In one event, William Lloyd Garrison, the founder of the abolitionist paper, The Liberator, was seized by an angry mob and almost murdered, but instead he was put into jail. The North’s abolitionist radicals retaliated against anti-abolitionists but the feud soon began to take place in politics.
The United States borders began to expand drastically westward throughout the 1840s-1860s. As territories were possessed, purchased, or taken, the territories eventually evolved into states, however; this would always start a feud between the Northern and Southern states. The North wanted to restrict slavery from progressing by urging new territories to become “free states.” Free states agreed to abolish slavery and their counterpart, slave states, disagreed completely. The states preference of slavery was usually determined by sectionalism. States below the Mason Dixon Line were slave states and vice versa for northern states. Debates over a territory applying for statehood began in the 1920s. At the time, the number of slave states to free states was eleven: eleven. Missouri, a territory already infested with slaves, was applying for statehood but the North was hesitant to accept its request, however; the North wanted Maine to join the United States too. A settlement, The Missouri Compromise, was contrived to ease the tensions between the North and South influences. The Missouri Compromise allowed both Missouri and Maine to join statehood, created a boundary line in the western territory that equally divided future slave states and northern states, and outlawed slaves in the free states, however; 1857 The Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott vs. Sanford case. Dred Scott was a free black that used to be a slave. When his master died, in a free state, the master’s brother claimed that he owned Scott. The Supreme Court decision ruled that Scott was not a citizen (because he was black), therefore he could not sue or defend his case. The Supreme Judges ruled that slaves were property because in the Fifth Amendment, property could not be taken away without the courts involved in the process. The Missouri Compromise was repealed and abolitionists became very upset and angry.
The nation’s political parties in 1854 were beginning to divide over slavery. When the Nebraska Territory applied for statehood, Congress members argued over its position in slavery, just like the Missouri Compromise. The Kansas-Nebraska Act divided the Nebraska Territory into two states, one free state (Nebraska) and one slave state (Kansas). As a result, the Whig Party ceased to exist, the Democrats became deeply divided, and the Republican Party was formed. Kansas citizens began to fight one another over slavery beliefs. An abolitionist, John Brown, led a massacre against slavery supporters in Kansas. Brown tried creating a slave uprising, but it did not occur. John Brown was caught by U.S Troops and was eventually sentenced to death. Many southerners believed that the massacre was supported by the Republican Party, a political party that openly opposed slavery. The frequent violence that occurred in Kansas became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” In the Presidential Election of 1860, the Southern parties were divided in choosing a presidential candidate. The Republican Party chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate. Abe Lincoln was a man that deeply believed that slavery was morally wrong, and he would use his presidential powers to end slavery once and for all in the United States of America. Abe received only two-fifths of the popular vote (none of the southern states put Lincoln on their ballots), but he won the majority of the electoral votes. The South viewed Lincoln’s election as a threat to their power in Congress and the end of their profitable plantation economy. This was the final straw for many southerners and several weeks later, the South officially succeeded from the Union and The United States of America plunged into a vicious civil war.
Sources: The Unfinished Nation by Alan Brinkley. Chapters 10; 11; 12; 13; and 14
Cory Stafford