Between 1861 and 1865 a civil war was experienced between the north and the south states. More than 620000 casualties were received as a result of that war. There are several causes of that civil war which have been traced in the nation’s history. This essay will be focusing on the five major reasons which are said to be the factors which led to the civil war between the north and the south. The ability of the two states in fighting will also be discussed.
The major reason which is suggested as the main cause is the economic and social differences between the two states (Catton and McPherson, 218). In 1973 Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which was to make the work easier of separating the seeds from the cotton. This machine led to increased profitability of cotton production. Most of the plantations shifted from other crops to cotton, which required an increased cheap labor in southern part. Slavery and specialization of one crop became very common in the southern economy.
The northern economy was industrialized, and used to rely on the raw materials from the south. The northern industries were processing the cotton raw materials from the south into finished goods (Review and Meltzer, 107). As the economic gap continued widening, each state started developing a different attitude towards each others economy. In the south, the plantation system was the base while in the north majority looked forward to the city life, where people from different cultures and levels were working together.
Secondly, a state versus federal rights was another factor which brought about the civil war (Catton and McPherson, 308). There were two groups which emerged since the American Revolution with different ideas. One group proposed for greater states rights and the other group supported that there was need for more control to the federal government. A relatively weak federal government was established by the thirteen states, and a lot of problems used to arise from those weaknesses. As a result of these problems which were occurring now and then, the leaders who were there decide to be meeting at the constitutional convention to secretly create the US constitution.
During these meetings, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry who were famous states proponents did not attend (Catton and McPherson, 348). Most of the people started complaining that the new constitution did not put into consideration the state rights but continued to act independently. After several deliberations, the federal government disagreed with the idea of giving states this right. John Calhoun who was also a proponent tried as much as possible to fight for abolishment, which did not work out making the state to have a feeling that they were not respected like before. The final decision was secession which led to the civil war.
Thirdly, the fight between the slave and non slave state proponents was another factor which resulted to the civil war (Review and Meltzer, 235). The land which was acquired from the Louisiana Purchase resulted to expansion of the America. Several questions arose about the new states which were admitted to the union whether they would be set free or to be the slaves. The rule which was passed in 1820 ruled out slavery in states.
The tension of conflict was high during the Mexican war about what would be done to the new states which the United States expected to acquire after conquering. In 1846 David Wilmot made a proposal of banning slavery in the new lands which were gained. This brought about a heated debate (Review and Meltzer, 350). Henry clay and the rest emphasized on the interests of both northern and southern of about balancing the slave and the Free states. This issue of the slaves and Free states brought about much conflict especially between the north and the south regions. The northern region had a big potential of winning the civil war as far as this issue was concerned, as slave trade was largely practiced in the southern region.
The growth of the abolition movement was as well another factor, where the northern people became seriously polarized against the issue of slavery. Finally, the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 set the South Carolina into a great opposition. The southern region reacted by issuing a declaration of abolishment (Alexander, 260). They had a perception that Lincoln was strongly against the slavery, and was in need of favoring the interests of the northern people. Even before Lincoln was pronounced as the president seven states had already refused to be the members of the union.
The reason as to why the southern region lost in the civil war with the northern region was because north had a large number of number of men and strong weapons than south. North had a chance to begin the war with more advantages than the south. For instance north had a well established government and did not take as much time as the south did to first of all set a government (Alexander, 205). Almost all the industries of the nation were situated at the northern part. Through these industries north took an advantage of manufacturing weapons which made them to fight a modern war, hence defeating the south. In addition, most of the nation’s farms were at the northern part, and this made it possible for the north to feed its army satisfactorily. The southern farms were grown staple foods like cotton and tobacco; this made it hard for them to feed its population as well the army.
Alexander, B. How the South could have won the Civil War: the fatal errors that led to Confederate defeat, ISBN0307345998, 9780307345998. Crown Publishers, 2007.
McPherson, J.M. and Catton, B. The Civil War, ISBN0618001875, 9780618001873. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.
Meltzer, T. and Review, P. Cracking the AP U.S. History Exam, ISBN0375429522, 9780375429521. Random House Information Group, 2009.