Causes of the American Civil War and description of tension during the antebellum period

Essay by pskiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2004

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Following the antebellum period, the United States entered into a period of strong sectionalism. A majority of the North, with an industrial economy, felt that slavery, one of the most controversial issues of the time, should be abolished. The South, however, relied on vast numbers of cheap labor to support their agricultural economy. This labor was provided by slavery, which led the South to desire slavery to continue. These conflicting opinions led to debates, the secession of the south from the union and the American Civil War.

Disputes over State and Federal rights were a main cause of the civil war. The Dred Scott Case is an example over the arguments. The Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional since the Federal Government had no authority to force states to make slavery illegal. This gave states more power and shows that many people disagreed about what powers the federal government could exercise.

This, along with many other disagreements, was a major cause of the Civil War.

Different basis of economy contributed to tension between the North and South. The north favored tariffs to protect their developing industry from foreign competition while the south opposed tariffs because that would provoke other countries to tax their cotton exports. Internal improvements such as the transcontinental railroad also increased tension. Both the North and South wanted the railroad closer to their part of the country. This also was a stimulus for the Civil War.

Extremists also played a major role in the beginning of the Civil War. Incidents including "Bleeding Kansas," where people rushed into Kansas to sway the vote on slavery, was an example of this. The incident greatly contributed to tension between the North and South.

More important was the most widely debated and controversial issues, slavery, which caused a...