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Causes of the Civil War

Common belief is that the American Civil War was entirely a battle over slavery—the North fighting to abolish it, the South fighting to maintain the status quo. While some argue that the Civil War was less about slavery than about the South’s desire to secede, the fact is that the issue of slavery can be found at the root of all the causes. The South was built on an agricultural system that relied on slavery, a necessary way to farm the vast plantation fields of cotton.

Cotton was the dominant crop for export, and plantation owners gladly kept up with demand. The North, however, was a growing industrialized region, one that was also growing in population. Their economic differences clashed dramatically over the issue of tariffs. Since the North was mainly an exporter of manufactured goods, they benefited from collecting tariffs. Conversely, the South relied on imports for sustenance and, naturally, resented them. The South had long enjoyed a tradition where the wealthy plantation owners controlled the government.

As the Northern states saw their population grow, they were more inclined to accept a dominant federal government. This conflict over State vs. Federal government led to the creation of the U. S. Constitution, which many Southerners felt ignored states rights. Southerners saw the North as aggressors who wanted to abolish their way of life. Along with expansionism came the question of whether or not new territories would be slave states or free states. At the same time, anti-slavery sentiments were growing more common in the north as the abolitionist movement spread.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln, the South announced the secession of seven states from the union, citing the fear that Lincoln was going to abolish slavery, as he favored the North. Tensions finally had reached the boiling point, and the Civil War—the bloodiest war ever fought on North American soil—began. Works Cited “Causes of the American Civil War. ” 123HelpMe. com. 15 April 2009 http://www. 123HelpMe. com/view. asp? id=57676>. “Top Five Causes of the Civil War. ” About. com. 15 April 2009 http://americanhistory. about. com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war. htm

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