During the 1860s, the US faced a civil war that threatened to lead to the total collapse of the country. The civil war led to the death of more than 600,000 people. This number is higher than the number of people who died in the Yugoslavia war. While slavery was a major issue that led to the war, it was not the only issue. There was a close relationship between slavery and the rights of states. In addition, the power that the federal government had over individual states was one of the major reason that led to the war. By interfering with slavery, most Southern States thought that the federal government was interfering with their way of life.
People in the Southern States and Northern States had different lifestyles. The economy of the Southern States relied on agriculture. Slavery was a critical component of the economy of the Southern States. Slavery provided the plantation owners with cheap labor. Therefore, most residents of the Southern States were opposed to the abolition of slavery. On the other hand, the economy of the North relied on industrialization. People of all races lived and worked together. The North had gradually abolished slavery. European immigrants provided the North with cheap labor.
Since the American Revolution, there were two camps of politicians. One group advocated for more state rights, whereas the other group advocated for greater federal power. After the American Revolution, thirteen states converged to form a confederation that had a very weak federal government. Various problems in running the affairs of the federal government necessitated certain legislators to create the US Constitution secretly. People who advocated for greater state rights felt that the new constitution did not respect the rights of individual states.
This led to the idea of nullification. Nullification allowed states to overrule federal acts by terming them unconstitutional. However, when it became evident that the federal government was unwilling to allow nullification, the individual states felt that the federal government did not respect their rights. This ultimately led secession of some states.
The Mexican War and the Louisiana Purchase led to the expansion of America. However, expansion of America necessitated the federal government to determine whether the new states would join the Union as free or slave states. In 1820, American legislators passed the Missouri Compromise, which banned slavery in areas that were within a certain region prior to the Louisiana Purchase. However, expansion of the Union due to the capture of new territory necessitated the Union to formulate a balance between the slave states and free states.
In 1854, the Union passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act led to the formation of two new states that had a right to choose whether to become free of slave states using popular sovereignty. However, residents of Missouri began moving to Kansas to force the state to become a slave state. This ultimately led to violence in Lawrence, Kansas. The differences between antislavery proponents and people supported slavery even led to a fight between Charles Sumner and Senator Preston Brooks on the floor of the Senate.
In addition, there was increased opposition to slavery in the North. This increased the sympathies that Northerners had towards abolitionists. It also increased the hatred that Northerners had towards slaveholders. Harriet Beecher’s ‘Uncle Tom’s cabin’ increased resistance that Northerners had towards slavery. The book was a best seller in the US and throughout the world within months of its publication.
In addition, the Dred Scot case led to increased opposition towards slavery. In the case, the Supreme Court denied Dred Scot, a slave, American citizenship since he was an African. The Supreme Court held that it was impossible for an African to become an American citizen. The Fugitive Slave Act increased the resistance towards slavery. The act termed a fugitive slave from one state a fugitive in all states. Fugitive Slave Act and Uncle Tom’s Cabin increased the support of the abolitionists.
The election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1960 increased was the final activity that triggered the American Civil War. Lincoln became president despite the fact that he did get the support of a single Southern State. Southerners felt that Lincoln did not represent their interests. Most Southern States felt that President Lincoln advocated for abolition of slavery.
This led to the secession of various states. South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union. Other Southern States soon followed suit. President Lincoln declared war on the Southern States after Southern Carolina blocked ships from supplying Fort Sumter. This is despite the fact that Fort Sumter still had an American flag.
President Lincoln sought the support of other states to fight the rebellion of the Southern States. Various states were unwilling to fight against the Southern States. This led to the secession of other states that thought that President Lincoln had surpassed his presidential authority. However, this did not prevent President Lincoln from initiating attacks on Fort Sumter. This marked the onset of the American Civil War, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.