Causes of the Civil War

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Differences between the North and South United States were substantial on the eve of the Civil War. Each side detested each other due to a number of economic, social, political and cultural contrasts which led to an irrevocable disintegration of relations between the states in the years preceding 1861. Many have disagreed with the term Civil War, because it was not a class struggle. John Nirven, for example, has stated it is very difficult for historians to agree on the basic causes of the war because it was a sectional combat in which the roots of political, economic, social, and psychological elements were very complex.

When any historian investigates the causes of the Civil War, immediately slavery comes to mind. Problems initially began because of disagreements of slavery. The North was against it and saw it as a moral issue that needed to be controlled and eventually dissolved. On the other hand, the South, with their plantation crops and puritanical social hierarchy, were very much in favor of it.

In fact, they relied on slavery as their economy was sustained primarily by slave labor because it was cheap and necessary for the production of goods, such as their vast cotton market. Therefore, the subordination and suppression of the Negro race in the South was a great cultural difference to the Northern States. The North however, did not need slavery as they had grown more economically and industrially advanced, along with the fact that the climate and terrain was unsuitable for the Negroes.

"Had there been no slavery, there would have been no war. Had there been no moral condemnation of slavery, there would have been no war." stated Sydney E. Ahlstrome. However, few soldiers on either side would have been able to declare a reason for or against slavery.