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Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Feb 10th, 2021

Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War

The introduction: the fundamentals of the Civil War

While writing about the American Civil War, I would like to highlight some fundamentals of the period. Thus, the Civil War in the United States started in April 1861 and lasted till April 1865. It covered Southern, Northeastern, and Western United States. One of the most interesting points, which is still to be discussed, is the cause of the tragic event. Generally, they say that the most common reason for the war was a fight against or for slavery. On the other hand, one is to keep in mind that many historians are of the opinion that the reasons for the war are not so easy to explain.

The most interesting thing, which I want to draw the readers’ attention to, is the so-called background of slavery. Thus, it seems that there were political leaders, who were more interested in the war. For instance, I have to say that Southerners had no opportunity to own the slaves. On the other hand, Northerners hadn’t seen someone who was the property of another person. For this reason, one can make a conclusion that for the average American slavery was a really unfamiliar thing. So, in my opinion, the only individuals who were interested in the subjection of a person to another one were political leaders. In other words, “The political leaders of the South, such as Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina, William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama, Robert Augustus Toombs of Georgia, recognized that if the South lost her slaves, her entire socio-economic system would probably collapse” (Leidner par. 5). So, I suppose that they were slave owners who started the war. These owners were afraid of collapsing their economy.

The thesis statement

In our day’s slavery is recognized to be a moral issue; however, people are to keep in mind the time the Civil War started. To my mind, the fact that the Civil War started in the 19th century can explain numerous complicated things. For instance, nobody can deny the fact that in the 19th-century slavery wasn’t regarded as a moral issue; on the contrary, one is to suppose that slavery was mostly associated with economic prosperity. Thus, the concept of slavery is to be analyzed according to time variations.

The body: the meaning of the American Civil War and its relation to Bierce’s work

First of all, I would like to point out that for the South it was extremely important to create or expand the territories and thus, to spread slavery. In my opinion, it was the so-called strategic purpose of the South. The political leaders of this part of the United States wanted their territories to become stronger and more powerful. However, on the other hand, we are to keep in mind the intentions of the North. So, the leaders of this part of the United States wanted to limit slavery. In the early twenties of the 19th century, Congress adopted some laws, concerning the policy of slavery. There is a need to point out that compromise between the parts of the United States was of primary importance. In 1854 the issue of slavery turned national disturbance. Generally, it was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which changed the concept of slavery.

An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is the most well-known American short story about the events American Civil War is related to. Bierce’s story appeared in 1890. It describes the setting of the war and its main characters. Generally, the main idea of the short story is to reflect Peyton Farquhar’s reasoning, who is waiting to be killed (i.e. hanged). Generally, the story consists of three parts. The first part reflects the main character’s current situation. The second part discloses Peyton’s misfortune and his standing on Own Greek Bridge. Finally, the third part describes “what goes on in Peyton’s mind before his hanging: an imagined escape from the noose, the bridge and death. Ending in a realistic turn, Peyton is hanged, his neck breaks and he does die” (“An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” 6).

The fictional character’s thoughts and ideas reflect the nature of really wealthy owners. In my opinion, the author’s story is mostly associated with the economy of the time. On the other hand, the peculiarity of the short story is considered to be an imagistic description. Richard J. Hand is of the opinion that “Like an Imagist poet, Bierce believes in the efficacy of the hard, clear image, yet can startlingly shift gear into a descriptive mode which could even be described as impressionistic” (par. 3). On the other hand, I suppose that Bierce’s work also reflects the so-called hidden humor. For instance, the most impressive feature of the short story is the position or an opportunity that the Civil War can have a happy end. The hand is sure that

The tale ingeniously exploits the reader’s naiveté in hoping for one. In hindsight, all the clues to the ending are there: the ages it takes Farquhar to awaken after falling into the water and his other deliriums; his impossibly microscopic visions and the fact that his run through the forest seemed interminable; the haunting whispers in an unknown tongue (par. 3).

To my mind, one of the basic issues, which is described in the short story, is considered to be the so-called concept of mortality. Thus, the most common issue, which combines the events of the Civil War and those ones, which took place in Bierce’s work, is an ironic reality of the war. The concepts of survival, mystification, and reality are the key aspects of the short story. On the other hand, dramatic events described in the work determine the genre of famous American production.

I suppose that the readers’ failed expectations determine the tone of the work. It is obvious, that the author wants his readers to be convinced of the main character’s opportunity to escape; for this reason, the short story reminds the audience of an interesting adventure, which will end happily; however, an unpleasant and unexpected end shocks the readers. That is what I call reality. That is what combines the events described in the author’s work, and the realities of the American Civil War.

The conclusion: the difference between reality and creative imagination

Generally, I suppose that the success of Bierce’s short story totally depends upon the language the author uses. Thus, I would like to tell a few words about the final passage of the author’s work. I suppose that the readers drew their attention to the fact that Bierce relied on the same stylistic elements used in the description of the third party and the description of the main character’s hanging process. The reader still has hope that Peyton will escape death; however, the author disappoints the readers and shows them a blunt reality. In my opinion, Bierce gave the readers an opportunity to compare and understand or realize the difference between certain fantastic or unreal expectations and the reality of death.

Works Cited:

“An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Personal.psu.edu. Web.

Hand, Richard. , 2005. Web.

Leidner, Gordon. , 2006-2007. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, February 10). Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/slavery-as-a-cause-of-the-american-civil-war/

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"Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War." IvyPanda, 10 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/slavery-as-a-cause-of-the-american-civil-war/.

1. IvyPanda. "Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War." February 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slavery-as-a-cause-of-the-american-civil-war/.


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IvyPanda. "Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War." February 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slavery-as-a-cause-of-the-american-civil-war/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War." February 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/slavery-as-a-cause-of-the-american-civil-war/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Slavery as a Cause of the American Civil War'. 10 February.

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