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Causes of Divide Between the North and Southern States Essay

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Updated: Dec 20th, 2021

The expansion of the American territory especially the Mexican cession where the United States acquired California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and part of Texas among other territories, brought with it the debate of slavery into these territories. While the North advocated for a free state, the South was for a slave state. This is what most people thought was the primary issue between the two sides.

One of the biggest reasons for the rift was economic factors. During the period of industrial takeoff in America, for industries to thrive they needed people in the urban areas to work in the factories. These were both skilled and unskilled laborers. The acquisition of new territories in the West meant that most people could afford the cheap land rather than work in deplorable conditions in the urban areas. The cities were also more expensive to live in than in the farms.

So, as soon as one made enough money in the industries, they would head West in search of land and better-paying jobs. This was later to change when the Irish entered America from Europe and brought with them the required industrial skills, particularly in the textile factories. With this, two economic systems emerged. In the North was an industrial economy that relied on factories, merchants, and new technology plus a labor force that was paid hourly wages and depended mainly on the industries, while in the South was an agricultural economy supported by farming of cotton and heavily reliant on slaves to toil the land.

Another cause of rift was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act was passed in 1854. It declared that ‘popular sovereignty would decide whether Kansas would be a slave or Free State.1

This led to the flooding of both Southerners to the South and Northerners to the North of Kansas. When the first territorial elections were held, the Southerners won because a number of the pro-slavery Southerners crossed into Kansas and voted in the election. Later, the fugitive slave law was passed which declared that “All runaway slaves be brought back to their master’s.2 This brought a wave of violence between both sides.

European products were low priced compared to those of Northern American industries, so the Northern states pressed congress to increase tariffs on goods imported from Britain. This did not go well with the Southern states because they exported their cotton to Britain for better prices. Once the tariffs were effected, the imported goods became more expensive to the Southern states, and also there was a reduced export of cotton to Britain because it had become too expensive for them to buy. The Southern states were forced to buy manufactured goods from the North and sell to them cotton at a fairer price since they couldn’t export it, this tariff was referred to by the Southern States as a tariff of the abominations.3

Another reason for the cessation of the Southern states was the election of Abraham Lincoln as president. The Southern states were afraid that Lincoln would free the slaves who were the backbone of the economies of the Southern states.

A lot has been laid out to show how the states were formed from the acquisition of land from Spain, Mexico, and the indigenous tribes.

When different states started to break from the union, almost all of them issued statements that reflected displeasure by the North on the way they perceived and continued to handle the institution of slavery which played a major role in the economy of the Southern states. The thought of freeing or paying all the slaves wages was unimaginable. There are more reasons which led to the split between the North and the South like the Eli Whitney cotton gin which brought about an increase in slaves working on the farms and the issue of abolitionist John Brown which emerged after the enactment of the fugitive slave act.

Bibliography

Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1854-1856. 2000. Web.

Online Highways LLC. 2010. Tariff of 1828. Web.

Randall James and David Donald. The Civil War and Reconstruction. Boston. D. C. Heath and Company. 1966.

Footnotes

  1. Randall James and Donald David. The Civil War and reconstruction. Boston. D. C. Heath and Company. 1966.
  2. Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project.2000.The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Rise of the Republican party, 1854-1856. Web.
  3. Online Highways LLC. 2010. Tariff of 1828.Web.
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