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An explanation of the causes of the american civil war

At the heart of the conflict were the interconnected issues of slavery and territorial political control. So why did the American Civil War happen?

Differences between north and south states Before any fighting took place there were already large societal differences in the mid-19th century between those in the northern states and those in the south. Northerners had invested heavily in an expansive and varied transportation system and in financial industries, such as banking and insurance, as well as in a large communications network. The price of cotton skyrocketed in the 1850s, and the value of slaves rose in kind.

  • The price of cotton skyrocketed in the 1850s, and the value of slaves rose in kind;
  • Contrary to its intentions, the act actually galvanized Northern sentiments against slavery because it seemed to demand direct assent to, and personal complicity with, the practice of human bondage;
  • In plain acknowledgement that slavery was an offensive practice, Congress in 1808 banned the importation of African slaves;
  • A key issue was states' rights;
  • While those in the south who profited more greatly from the practice saw the desires of abolitionists as violating their rights.

So much so, in fact, that historian Stanley Engerman found a higher rate of growth of southern per capita income over northern between 1840 and 1860. The problem of slavery While there were key societal divides between the two sides that made up the American Civil War, animosity grew when the perception in the south was that the north would try to impose its values upon them. It was at this point that the issue of slavery became mixed up with the autonomy of the states themselves, particularly, just how much power a state had compared to federal authority.

Initially, the abolition of slavery movement was led by social reformers in the north who saw slavery as a sin.

What caused the American Civil War?

While those in the south who profited more greatly from the practice saw the desires of abolitionists as violating their rights. At the heart of the debate was the key issue of whether slavery would be allowed in the newly created states that were joining the Union.

This dispute had originated in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchasewhereby the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, were purchased by the federal government from France. When Kansas was officially opened to settlement, there was a race to settle in the state between those who supported slavery and those who opposed it. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president on a platform pledging to keep slavery out of the new states of the Union.

Causes Of The Civil War

Subsequently seven slave states in the south seceded and formed a new nation, the Confederate States of America. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union.

Causes Of The Civil War

When President Lincoln called for troops to suppress the rebellion, four more slave states seceded - Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Over four years, 237 named battles were fought, these were often characterised by their bitter intensity and high numbers of casualties. The bloodiest battle was the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that left nearly 52,000 men killed, wounded or missing in action. After the battle, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, which expressed firm commitment to preserving the Union and became one of the most famous speeches in American history.

By the spring of 1865 all the principal Confederate armies had surrendered, and when the Union cavalry captured the fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia on 10 May 1865, resistance collapsed and the war ended. Advertisement Sign up for our daily newsletter Newsletter.