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The Most Disastrous Civil Conflict in American History Essay

Differences between the Northern and Southern states of America triggered one of the most disastrous civil conflicts in American history. The height of the conflict was characterized by the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (Draper 2). The Northern faction was majorly constituted of Union states while the Southern faction was comprised of the federation states. This four year conflict happened from 1861 – 1865 (Draper 1).

Since Abraham Lincoln’s election, the Southerners noted that he was focused on ending slavery and keeping the Northern union together but this ideology did not represent the Southerner’s way of life. In fact, the conflict was primarily brought about by the different ways of living both regions had.

The Northern union was of the opinion that the Southerners should give up slave trade, build factories and give up their farms as well. However, the Southerners could hear nothing of it. The federal government therefore treated slave ownership as a right to property and they never gave up this right even in light of pressures from the Northern states. This conflict cost America more than 620,000 lives with an unconfirmed number of civilian casualties (Radford 1). Most of the war was fought in the South but it took a lot of time for both states to recover from the effects of the war.

Collectively, the difference between the two national blocks assumed an economic, cultural and constitutional nature. In terms of economic differences, the Northern states wanted the federal government to protect local industries from foreign competition through the adjustment of tax policies (Radford 1).

The Southern states on the other hand preferred the status quo because they assumed that a change in the tax system would affect its sale of large-scale agricultural produce to Europe (Radford 1). This assumption was majorly founded on the principle that taxation would ultimately change the prices of agricultural goods. This kind of stalemate characterized the conflict for a long time and it created a big economic gap between the two state factions.

The Northern states generally had few capital reserves but they had a considerably good track record of investments. On the other hand, the southerners were better economically empowered because they received a lot of revenues from the sale of cotton, and tobacco (Radford 1).

Culturally, the two regions supported different ideologies with regards to slave trade and traditional types of Jobs. In detail, the Northern union supported the end of slave trade but the Southerners preferred the continuity of the slave trade. The Northerners also supported urban white-collar jobs but the Southerners supported small village-like agricultural jobs because its economy was largely supported by agriculture.

The two regions also supported different kinds of governmental set ups because the Northerners were of the opinion that there should be a centralized federal government which had power over all the states but the Southerners preferred that states should have a firmer grip on the running of state affairs. This was to be a secession kind of strategy for the Southerners.

These kinds of differences openly played out even before the civil war when eleven Southern states declared secession from the American union and in turn formed the Confederate State of America which tirelessly opposed the Northern union’s government philosophy.

Also, before the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, he strongly campaigned against the extinction of slave trade beyond states which were already practicing it (Radford 1). In a responsive manner, four other states also declared their secession from the American union (Radford 1).

The American government thereafter started opposing calls for secession; terming it as an act of rebellion (Radford 1). This conflict later developed into a state of hostility between the two sides and the attack of the Southerners on a US military installation marked the beginning of the American civil war.

Preferred Philosophy of Government

The Northerners philosophy of government seems to be the most preferred form of government and indeed, the prevailing ideology after the civil war.

This is true because the federal system of government advanced by the Northerners considers the political, economic and social problems plaguing a particular state (Dautrich 79). Local needs are best represented by state senators who live in the state itself and who are in a position to best understand the unique problems of the state and guarantee a unique solution to the same (Dautrich 79).

For instance, when examining the poor state of traffic in Oahu, Hawaii, a long-term solution to the problem can be best formulated by representatives from within the community and not outside. The federal system of government advanced by the Northerners acknowledges these unique needs and provides a given level of autonomy to states to tackle their own local problems.

The federal system of government also represents all manner of people in the population and it offers a blanket representation of people within various states who may have a different way of life, ethnicity or even cultures (Dautrich 80). A federal system of government is in a position to overlook these differences and offer a common solution that suits everyone. Needless to say, this is done in consideration to local needs and tastes.

This system perfectly works for the benefit of everyone. For example, in the state of Arizona, there is a predominant majority population of Hispanic speaking population and therefore the provision of bilingual education is a unique way that has been established to cater for the unique needs of the local population (Dautrich 80).

In this manner, state governments are able to adopt policies and systems that are only unique to the state and which don’t need to be adopted by other states. For instance, the federal system of government does not offer legal recognition of same sex marriages but certain states within America have legalized such unions out of the independence state governments are given by the federal government.

The divisive way in assigning duties between state and federal governments is also bound to increase efficiency because the federal government is in a position to tackle issues at a national level while the state government can easily tackle issues at a local level.

In addition, the federal system of government provides an opportunity for innovation because the freedom it gives state governments to formulate their own policies provides enough ground for comparison of which state formulates the best policies (say, in taxation), so that examples can be borrowed for practicability at a national level. These advantages could be easily derived from the Policies advanced by the Northerners in the American civil war.

With regards to the slave trade stand taken by the Northerners, the ideology of banning slave trade was a good position to protect human rights because the ongoing slave trade in the South greatly violated human rights. For starters, slaves were confined in deplorable conditions, chained and forced to work long hours without remuneration.

In addition, the slaves were branded by hot iron, beaten and given little food to eat. They were also treated as commodities and not necessarily regarded as fellow human beings. Comprehensively, the slave trade was morally repugnant and the Southerner’s support of it to improve their capital base was unjustifiable.

Since the Northerners were more industrialized than the Southerners, they received great opposition from Southerners because the economic composition of the Southerners was greatly characterized by agriculture. The Northerners were therefore advancing for an industrial type of economy which has many advantages over the agrarian form of economy advanced by the Southerners.

An industrial type of economy is characterized by mass production which could be potentially beneficial to the entire country in terms of exports and even in producing enough food to feed the entire country. The level of efficiency in an industrialized economy is also much higher as compared to an agrarian type of economy.

In addition, an agrarian type of economy is also more prone to environmental conditions which increases the risks associated with such type of economies. For instance, if droughts or floods are experienced, there is little chance that production will be sustained in an agrarian type of economy. On the other hand, an industrial economy is all-weather and production can be sustained all year round. These factors withstanding, the Northern ideology was better than the Southern ideology.


The ideology advanced by the Northerners prevailed in the American civil war and it characterizes the world economy today. The Southern ideology which prompted the American civil war was more a selfish move by Southern states and it posed a resistance to change because the agrarian type of economy represented an older type of economy when compared to an industrial economy.

The Northern union also campaigned for an end to the slave trade and an upheaval of the federal system of government which was bound to uphold human rights and increase the level of nationalism in America. These factors stand out as some of the Northerner’s strong points which led them to win the war and determine the future we live in today.

Works Cited

Dautrich, Kenneth. American Government: Historical, Popular, and Global Perspectives – Texas Edition. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Draper, John. History of the American Civil War, Volume 3. New York: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2009. Print.

Radford, Grant. The Civil War for Fifth Graders. 3. 2004. Web. <>

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Most Disastrous Civil Conflict in American History." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-american-civil-war/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Most Disastrous Civil Conflict in American History'. 20 August.

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