Causes Of The Civil War

Subject: 🗽 American History
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1007
Topics: Civil War, Abraham Lincoln
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The American Civil War remains a fateful event in the history of the United States. Between 1841 and 1845, approximately three quarters of a million American soldiers died. These figures do not include civilian casualties and those whose deaths are unknown. The split between the Northern Union and the Southern Confederacy turned families, friends, states and territories against each other. Although many assume that the split broke out exclusively on the grounds of slavery, many significant factors contributed to this defining point in American history. What were the causes of the Civil War?

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States’ rights

For the early days of the United States, there have been debates about which institution should be in charge of upholding the rule of law. This debate reached its peak during the Civil War. The Union argued that a central body, the government, should be held accountable for establishing laws that were binding on the federal level. Concerned that their authority was being stripped away, the Confederate states maintained that decision-making should be left to each state separately. They also claimed that each state should preserve the autonomy to decline federal laws if they differed from the state’s convictions. This is one instance of how the Northern states sought to develop a unified country with one main authoritarian force providing law and order.


One fundamental claim is that slavery was at the core of the Civil War. Intertwined with many other causes of the Civil War, slavery was an issue on which neither the North nor the South could reach agreement. Many in the North viewed enslavement as immoral, that no individual merited to be possessed. Abolitionists struggled with the concept of slavery, placing this matter at the forefront of citizens’ minds. In contrast, Southerners favored slavery. Slaves were the basis of agriculture, which was vital for many southerners. With the emancipation of slavery, the North, in fact, risked removing the delightful life and earnings of the South.

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Farming vs industry

A critical topic that separated both groups was the question of agriculture and industry. Founded on the strength of slaves, the South had flourished in farming. Afraid of losing slavery, the farming lifestyle that had made the South thrive was endangered. While this was of great worry to most Southerners, the North reduced its involvement in agriculture to a minimum and focused on engineering and industry. It appeared to be another fight in which one half of the nation wished to center on sustaining a lifestyle that was efficient, while the other half was concentrated on expansion.


Expansion was another essential issue that caused the Civil War, which was based on both slavery and farming. Expansion became a complex challenge on two main fronts. Firstly, the Union was determined to spread westward. This horizontal drive focused on innovation, industry and the growth of the country. The South, on the other hand, would be looking to expand southward to the Caribbean and Mexico. Their initial aim was to expand agricultural land. Another trouble emerged during the westward expansion when both sides recognized that each current territory and state was a battlefield that would provide one side with more strength in the war.

Lincoln’s ideology

Being chosen just prior to the initial battle at Fort Sumner, which became acknowledged as the beginning of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln also appeared to be a leading advocate for the abolition of slavery, along with represent a leading personality on which both sides targeted. Not an abolitionist from the outset, Lincoln argued against the extension of slavery while expanding westward. This conveyed to Southerners the perception that Lincoln was opposed to slavery, the South, and their lifestyle. Many shouted that they were standing for continuity because of Lincoln’s election.

Bleeding Kansas

Combining both the key issue of slavery and expansion, Kansas was among the first beachheads for the fight to govern the new states. The enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska Act empowered the residents of the state to determine whether Kansas would become an independent state or a slave state. This was a key solution because either way Kansas would be on the side of the North or the South. After years of struggle and many lesser clashes, the Union eventually declared Kansas an independent state.


One of the ultimate reasons for the outbreak of the Civil War was the issue of succession. Beginning with the election of President Lincoln, many Southern states carried out their threats and disaffiliated from the Union. This split between North and South started with the state of South Carolina. After that, several states followed with the decision to abandon the Union. Altogether there were 11 states that formed the Confederate States. This division forced Lincoln to announce that these separate states did not possess the right to secede. The dispatch of troops to Fort Sumner can be considered as the official beginning of the Civil War.

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In general, many reasons ignited the Civil War. The fundamental reason as is universally acknowledged, was the conviction that some men considered that they should possess slaves as if they were their own. Many other concerns existed around this focal issue, but they were all profoundly entrenched in the divisions over whether to broaden and develop or to hold loyalty to the past. Ultimately, industry and growth triumphed over tradition and stagnation.

During the war, Lincoln became increasingly fascinated with the idea of prohibiting slavery. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued to liberate the slaves of the Confederacy. In a letter to A.G. Hodges in 1864, Lincoln wrote “I am naturally Anti-Slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not think and feel…”. In 1865, after years of struggle, Lincoln was massacred by a Southern supporter identified as John Wilkes Booth. The next month, the ultimate battle of the Civil War was taken part in at Palmito Ranch. The North had prevailed. The gradual and complex process of the South connecting the united country began. Decades of disputes, struggles, deaths and reconstruction born of a reluctance to change.

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