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Us Civil War Occurred During 1861 to 1865 Leading to 618

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Huy Nguyen

Andi Beard

ISC 244

The Causes of US Civil War 1861 – 1865

US Civil War occurred during 1861 to 1865 leading to 618.000 casualties (Kelly, n.d, para. 7). People today still discuss about The Causes the US Civil War. There are several causes and many factors effect to the reason why the US Civil War occurred but majority of people agree that Slavery and the different economic interest between the North and the South are the main reasons.

The main reason that people believe directly lead to the American Civil War is slavery. 18th century marked the powerful development of slavery market. America’s economy depended on the slavery and output goods of them. The economic interest between the North and the Sought gradually separated into 2 different directions. The South focus on agrarian economy while the North become industrialized. The needs for industry development and differences in political view of the slavery’s future appeared leading to the disagreement on the tariff, opinion, states rights and federal rights as well as the split up and establishment of Democracy Party and Republican Party. ( New York Times mentioned that the cause of US civil war was because of the growth of North’s economical and political power and the fear of the South of the limitation that the North would place to the expansion of slavery (Craig Symonds, n.d)

McPherson (1988) stated in Battle Cry of Freedom: “Everything stemmed from the slavery issues”. The dispute between the North and the South about the future of slavery was the burning issue during 1850s. The dispute then caused the recession that the North fought to abolish slavery and the South insisted on remaining slavery and announced to establish the new independent Confederation. The South utilized slave to expand its large plantations and other duties. Slaves were considered as a property of slave owners. Slave could be rented or traded to pay debts. The amount of slaves can contribute to the social position and demonstrate the wealthy of individual or business. Four millions African slave and their descendants serves as the slaves in South during the US Civil War. On the other hand, the North gradually abolished slavery because of the steady flow of immigrants especially from German during 1840s – 1850s ( According to Historian Bruce Levine, there are 130.000 Germans arrived to US each years during 1850s. In 1850, the population of US increased 12%. (as cited in Fleche, 2012). Because of the immigrants as the low-wages labors, the North did not need to depend to the slavery. As Fleche (2012) mentioned in “Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War and the Age of Nationalist Conflict”, besides the workers, many German politicians came to US because of their failure of Europe Revolution fighting for the freedom and demanding for Republic regime. They found American the best place to launch re-new revolution in Europe. They focused on North American to provide any help in hope of making the North become republican community as they had hoped German became (Fleche, 2012). The concrete support of migrants and politicians for certain party contributes to the causes lead to the American Civil War.

        Moreover, some controversial law of the Congress about the slavery issue also contributed to the American Civil War. The In Battle cry of freedom, McPherson (1988) mentioned about the fugitive slave law in 1850, which turned down the slave owner’s right to capture black slave but gave slaves no right to prove their freedom. The Claimant had to bring the fugitive slaves to the commissioner to prove ownership by the white witness’s testimony. The purpose of this law was to recapture as many the fugitive slaves from the North as possible and remand them to the South. This law also required and called upon US marshals and deputies to help the slave owner to capture their property. McPherson also stated one tragic case that one Maryland owner claim the ownership of a Philadelphia women who had run away 20 years ago. As the result, all six of her children were also claimed as his slave too. Black Slave and White allies as well as Anti-slavery lawyers from the North had tried many ways to nullify this law by fight, which contributed to the tension between the South and the North.

With the differences between Southern and Northern about the current slavery situation and the solution for slavery in the future, the pinnacle of the dispute between the North and the South was when president Abraham Lincoln won election in 1860. He promised to halt the expansion of slavery. The South Carolina reacted with his statement and won by seceding from the Union on Dec 20, 1860. Then, six other states also joint with Carolina to form and announce a confederation with Jefferson David as a president on March 4, 1861 (Symonds, n.d). People and history book believed that this event later led to the consequence of Fort Summer on April 15, 1861 then lead to the breakout of the American Civil War. However, Drehle (2011) in Time Magazine believed it was the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 that was initial cause leading to the US civil wars (Drehle, 2011). The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed using popular sovereignty to decide the fate of slavery. As the result, there was an election created in 1855 in Kansas between its citizens divided into pro- and antislavery. Four constitutions were proposed, one of them was Lecompton in 1857, which delegated to protect the slavery. An 1855 election was a fraud because of proslavery Missourians cross the border to cash their ballots, which is called Border Ruffians, then results in Kansas to be slavery state. Then the fight occurred due to the breakdown of the popular sovereignty, which was called Bleeding Kansas. Free-Staters initiated their constitution in Topeka to ban the slaver in Kansas. This event partly effected to the split of Democratic Party in 1860 and the establishment of Republic Party later. Finally, with the support of the new Republic Party, Kansas entered to the Union as free state in 1861 (Garrison, n.d).

The difference in economic interests and the ambition of exploiting the Western are also considered as a cause leading to the American Civil War. Kelly (n.d) mentioned in his article – “Top Five Causes of the Civil War” about the Eli Whitey’s invention of cotton gin in 1793, which made it easily to separate the seeds from cotton. This invention made the cotton plantation more profitable. This development demanded the South to have more labors to plan cotton and it had to be cheap, which explains the highly need for slavery of the South. Meanwhile, the North depended on manufacturing. They have to import high prices cotton from the South but had low prices for manufactured exports in return (Thornton, 2004). Slave was the big market back then, which was worth over $3.5 billions in 1860 dollar. “It is single largest financial assert” (Drehle, 2011, p. 1). Cotton was the largest exported good and the South was free to sell cotton to any nations and they fought for this right. However, the North supported to have tariff and protectionism (Thornton, 2004).  Moreover, the development plan to dreamland – Western of the South also lead to their objection of Slavery abolished. Drehle (2011) mentioned about the development of both the North and the South to the West of US. The west was the dreamland for the South because of all its resources. The idea of cutting of the slavery was unacceptable for the South; Slave owners needed to expand their business. Slaves can help them to grow hemp, plant cotton, mine for gold, built railway, etc with low wage.



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