The American Civil War: Causes and Consequence
The American Civil War was a combination of four decades of intense social conflict and reflected economic, social and political differences between the Northern and the Southern states. Through the four years of bitter conflict and sacrifice, America would emerge a stronger and unified nation. This essay will examine the major causes and aftermath of the war.
Slavery vs. Freedom
At the root of the Civil War was the issue of slavery. The South was based on one crop-cotton-and the labour of the 4 million slaves who wee needed to grow it. The slave became an ever more important element of the southern economy, and so the debate about slavery, for the southerner, gradually evolved into an economically based question of money and power, and ceased to be a theoretical question at all. It became an institution that southerners felt bound to protect.
In the 1840s and '50s the Northern states wanted to prohibit slavery in the Western territories that would eventually become new states. The Southern states opposed all efforts to block the expansion of slavery and feared that the North's stance would eventually endanger slaveholdings in the South itself. By the 1850s, some Northerners had begun calling for the complete abolition of slavery. However, Congress could not abolish slavery until the number of free states exceeded the number of slave states and they could win a majority in the Senate.
Even as slave states were added to the Union to balance the number of free ones, the South found that its representatives in the House had been overwhelmed by the North's explosive growth. More and More emphasis was now placed on maintaining parity in the Senate.
It was when the amount of land available for expansion became scarce...