History has told us stories that made light to some, if not all, of the things that still manifest today. It tells us of wars and of events that shaped our country and explained why things were that way. Looking at the Civil War that took place during the 1800s, we might be interested to ask how and why it happened. Who started it? What are the factors that brought about the Civil War? This paper will try to answer these questions while looking at the historical context of the event. This paper also hypothesizes that due to the differences and political conflict between the North and the South, the Civil War erupted.
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The Civil War started on April 12, 1861, in Charleston, South Carolina. It is also called War Between the States and War of the Rebellion. Even before the war began, there have been differences between the north and the south (Columbia Encyclopedia, 1446).
In 1785, the U.S. government issued an ordinance that ensured the sale of the land that later became known as the Old Northwest. The Native Americans disagreed with America’s claim that the whites owned the lands. There were also other states that claimed the land. The Confederation Congress bargained with the Indians and the states so that the government can have ownership of the land. However, the Indians still did not yield the rest of the land while squatters continued to swarm in the area and refused to pay for the land.
Another ordinance was passed, the Ordinance of 1787. It provided mandates for the Northwest people, which included: slavery was forbidden in the Old Northwest, English common law was given leeway, and a system of government was established to find out how the territories could become states (Ayers, et.al.).
The old Northwest has many natural resources that weren’t discovered yet by the inhabitants. This caused hundreds and hundreds of settlers and goods to flood in Southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The Old Southwest, on the other hand, saw a fair share of white farmers from the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia settling into the lands. These immigrants brought along with them two customs from the South that were not seen or done in the Old Northwest.
One was the plantation system where only one family-owned landholding. Two was black slavery. South Carolina has the largest slave population (Ayers, et.al.). Hunter also claimed that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War. The Southern states relied heavily on slavery to boost their economy and work their plantations.
Although most of the immigrants were without slaves, the elites were dominating the political and social life. These things contributed to the American Civil War of 1861-1865.
Eventually, whatever interaction the whites and the Native Americans have was marred due to the fast-paced expansion in the Old Northwest and the Old Southwest. “The political conflict which brought about the Civil War rooted from the argument whether “the West would develop as a white, socially and culturally homogenous region of family farms, or a highly stratified, biracial society where plantations (and black slaves) would be welcome” (Young and Meiser).
The authors added that during the 1850s, both the northern and southern political entrepreneurs wanted to dominate the political economy of the West. The northern whites did not want slavery to spread for fear of competition. The southern whites, however, wanted to take their properties when they migrate to the west. The political system failed. The Civil War was rooted in the conflict between the North and the South over slavery. This was because slavery was important to the prosperity of the southern whites but risky to the economy and social well-being of northern whites.
The Civil War started because of the many differences between the north and the south, such as political, social, and economic differences. Aside from this, the ordinances which the U.S. government passed proved to be contradictory. But the war was also caused by other factors, such as slavery, which the Southerner’s advocate and the Northerner’s do not support, and Constitutional difficulties.
Ayers, Edward, Lewis Gould, David Oshinsky and Jean R. Soderlund. “American Passages: A History of the United States.” 2nd Ed. Wadsworth Publishing. Web.
Hunter, Rober M.T. “Origin of the Late War.” Southern Historical Sociaety Papers. Vol. 1. Virginia. 1876.
“The Civil War” Columbia Encyclopedia. Vol. 5 (1979): 1446-1447.
Young, Richard P. & Jefferey W. Meiser. “Race and the Dual State in Antebellum America”Eugene, 2006.