Slavery, expansion, policy: causes of the Civil War

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Although some historians feel that the Civil War was a result of political blunders and that the issue of slavery did not cause the conflict, this interpretation fails to consider the two main causes of the war itself: the expansion of slavery, and its entrance into the political scene. By considering the personal opinions of people living in both the North and the South at the time of the war, as well as the political decisions made, one can comprehend the reasons behind the war, and thus determine its inevitability.

The revisionists believe that the issue of slavery was not a major cause of the war. Some argue that the war was precipitated by careless decisions made by politicians, who caused people to react with emotions that were out of proportion to the actual issues involved. Others feel that the slavery problem could have been solved without war. The problem with these theories is that the revisionists do not recognize slavery as the main difference between North and South.

They also fail to realize that it was not simply political blunders that caused the war, but the discussion of slavery publicly among politicians.

In the excerpt "The Sectional Divisions That Led to Civil War," David M. Potter explains the circumstances already in place that separated the country into feuding divisions and the four basic positions that politicians could have taken to solve the question of slavery in the territories. Although politicians strove to deal with the issues that divided the country, the "most serious cause of sectional conflict," Potter explains, was slavery. The tension over the ideology of slavery was not resolved with the moral question of slavery, but rather the conflict was were considered to be the problem of the individual state, rather than a problem of the...