What do you think was the "main cause" of the Civil War?

Posted by: PetersSmith

If you say "what about *insert some complaint here*" then chances are it fits into one of these because the first five are VERY broad. Also, I won't accept any "a combination of these" because that is not only obvious, but a "combination" cannot be a "main cause". However, this is going to be a predictably one-sided poll and thus I don't know why I made it...

16 Total Votes

Economic and social differences between the North and the South.

With Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became very profitable. This machine was able to reduce the time it took to separate seeds from the cotton. However, at the same time the increase in the number of plantations willing to...  move from other crops to cotton meant the greater need for a large amount of cheap labor, i.e. slaves. Thus, the southern economy became a one crop economy, depending on cotton and therefore on slavery. On the other hand, the northern economy was based more on industry than agriculture. In fact, the northern industries were purchasing the raw cotton and turning it into finished goods. This disparity between the two set up a major difference in economic attitudes. The South was based on the plantation system while the North was focused on city life. This change in the North meant that society evolved as people of different cultures and classes had to work together. On the other hand, the South continued to hold onto an antiquated social order. According to the historian James M. McPherson, exceptionalism applied not to the South but to the North after the North ended slavery and launched an industrial revolution that led to urbanization, which in turn led to increased education, which in its own turn gave ever-increasing strength to various reform movements but especially abolitionism.[citation needed] The fact that seven immigrants out of eight settled in the North (and the fact that most immigrants viewed slavery with disfavor), compounded by the fact that twice as many whites left the South for the North as vice versa, contributed to the South's defensive-aggressive political behavior. The Charleston Mercury read that on the issue of slavery the North and South "are not only two Peoples, but they are rival, hostile Peoples." As De Bow's Review said, "We are resisting revolution.... We are not engaged in a Quixotic fight for the rights of man.... We are conservative.   more
10 votes

States versus federal rights.

Since the time of the Revolution, two camps emerged: those arguing for greater states rights and those arguing that the federal government needed to have more control. The first organized government in the US after the American Revolution was under ... the Articles of Confederation. The thirteen states formed a loose confederation with a very weak federal government. However, when problems arose, the weaknesses of the Articles caused the leaders of the time to come together at the Constitutional Convention and create, in secret, the US Constitution. Strong proponents of states rights like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry were not present at this meeting. Many felt that the new constitution ignored the rights of states to continue to act independently. They felt that the states should still have the right to decide if they were willing to accept certain federal acts. This resulted in the idea of nullification, whereby the states would have the right to rule federal acts unconstitutional. The federal government denied states this right. However, proponents such as John C. Calhoun fought vehemently for nullification. When nullification would not work and states felt that they were no longer respected, they moved towards secession   more
3 votes

The fight between Slave and Non-Slave State Proponents.

As America began to expand, first with the lands gained from the Louisiana Purchase and later with the Mexican War, the question of whether new states admitted to the union would be slave or free. The Missouri Compromise passed in 1820 made a rule t... hat prohibited slavery in states from the former Louisiana Purchase the latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes north except in Missouri. During the Mexican War, conflict started about what would happen with the new territories that the US expected to gain upon victory. David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 which would ban slavery in the new lands. However, this was shot down to much debate. The Compromise of 1850 was created by Henry Clay and others to deal with the balance between slave and free states, northern and southern interests. One of the provisions was the fugitive slave act. Another issue that further increased tensions was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. It created two new territories that would allow the states to use popular sovereignty to determine whether they would be free or slave. The real issue occurred in Kansas where pro-slavery Missourians began to pour into the state to help force it to be slave. They were called "Border Ruffians." Problems came to a head in violence at Lawrence, Kansas. The fighting that occurred caused it to be called "Bleeding Kansas." The fight even erupted on the floor of the senate when anti-slavery proponent Charles Sumner was beat over the head by South Carolina's Senator Preston Brooks   more
1 vote

Growth of the Abolition Movement.

Increasingly, the northerners became more polarized against slavery. Sympathies began to grow for abolitionists and against slavery and slaveholders. This occurred especially after some major events including: the publishing of Harriet Beecher Stowe... 's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Dred Scott Case, John Brown's Raid, and the passage of the fugitive slave act that held individuals responsible for harboring fugitive slaves even if they were located in non-slave states   more
1 vote
1 comment

Religious conflict over the slavery question.

Led by Mark Noll, a body of scholarship has highlighted the fact that the American debate over slavery became a shooting war in part because the two sides reached diametrically opposite conclusions based on reading the same authoritative source of g... uidance on moral questions: the King James Version of the Bible. After the American Revolution and the disestablishment of government-sponsored churches, the U.S. experienced the Second Great Awakening, a massive Protestant revival. Without centralized church authorities, American Protestantism was heavily reliant on the Bible, which was read in the standard 19th-century Reformed hermeneutic of "common sense", literal interpretation as if the Bible were speaking directly about the modern American situation instead of events that occurred in a much different context, millennia ago. By the mid-19th century this form of religion and Bible interpretation had become a dominant strand in American religious, moral and political discourse, almost serving as a de facto state religion. The Bible, interpreted under these assumptions, seemed to clearly suggest that slavery was Biblically justified: The pro-slavery South could point to slaveholding by the godly patriarch Abraham (Gen 12:5; 14:14; 24:35–36; 26:13–14), a practice that was later incorporated into Israelite national law (Lev 25:44–46). It was never denounced by Jesus, who made slavery a model of discipleship (Mk 10:44). The Apostle Paul supported slavery, counseling obedience to earthly masters (Eph 6:5–9; Col 3:22–25) as a duty in agreement with "the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness" (1 Tim 6:3). Because slaves were to remain in their present state unless they could win their freedom (1 Cor 7:20–24), he sent the fugitive slave Onesimus back to his owner Philemon (Phlm 10–20). The abolitionist north had a difficult time matching the pro-slavery south passage for passage. [...] Professor Eugene Genovese, who has studied these biblical debates over slavery in minute detail, concludes that the pro-slavery faction clearly emerged victorious over the abolitionists except for one specious argument based on the so-called Curse of Ham (Gen 9:18–27). For our purposes, it is important to realize that the South won this crucial contest with the North by using the prevailing hermeneutic, or method of interpretation, on which both sides agreed. So decisive was its triumph that the South mounted a vigorous counterattack on the abolitionists as infidels who had abandoned the plain words of Scripture for the secular ideology of the Enlightenment. Protestant churches in the U.S., unable to agree on what God's Word said about slavery, ended up with schisms between Northern and Southern branches: the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844, the Baptists in 1845, and the Presbyterian Church in 1857. These splits presaged the subsequent split in the nation: "The churches played a major role in the dividing of the nation, and it is probably true that it was the splits in the churches which made a final split of the national inevitable." The conflict over how to interpret the Bible was central: The theological crisis occasioned by reasoning like [conservative Presbyterian theologian James H.] Thornwell's was acute. Many Northern Bible-readers and not a few in the South felt that slavery was evil. They somehow knew the Bible supported them in that feeling. Yet when it came to using the Bible as it had been used with such success to evangelize and civilize the United States, the sacred page was snatched out of their hands. Trust in the Bible and reliance upon a Reformed, literal hermeneutic had created a crisis that only bullets, not arguments, could resolve. The result: The question of the Bible and slavery in the era of the Civil War was never a simple question. The issue involved the American expression of a Reformed literal hermeneutic, the failure of hermeneutical alternatives to gain cultural authority, and the exercise of deeply entrenched intuitive racism, as well as the presence of Scripture as an authoritative religious book and slavery as an inherited social-economic relationship. The North– forced to fight on unfriendly terrain that it had helped to create– lost the exegetical war. The South certainly lost the shooting war. But constructive orthodox theology was the major loser when American believers allowed bullets instead of hermeneutical self-consciousness to determine what the Bible said about slavery. For the history of theology in America, the great tragedy of the Civil War is that the most persuasive theologians were the Rev. Drs. William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant. There were many causes of the Civil War, but the religious conflict, almost unimaginable in modern America, cut very deep at the time. Noll and others highlight the significance of the religion issue for the famous phrase in Lincoln's second inaugural: "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.   more
1 vote

Fragmentation of the American party system.

The politicians of the 1850s were acting in a society in which the traditional restraints that suppressed sectional conflict in the 1820s and 1850s– the most important of which being the stability of the two-party system– were being eroded as this r... apid extension of democracy went forward in the North and South. It was an era when the mass political party galvanized voter participation to 80% or 90% turnout rates, and a time in which politics formed an essential component of American mass culture. Historians agree that political involvement was a larger concern to the average American in the 1850s than today. Politics was, in one of its functions, a form of mass entertainment, a spectacle with rallies, parades, and colorful personalities. Leading politicians, moreover, often served as a focus for popular interests, aspirations, and values. Historian Allan Nevins, for instance, writes of political rallies in 1856 with turnouts of anywhere from twenty to fifty thousand men and women. Voter turnouts even ran as high as 84% by 1860. An abundance of new parties emerged 1854–56, including the Republicans, People's party men, Anti-Nebraskans, Fusionists, Know-Nothings, Know-Somethings (anti-slavery nativists), Maine Lawites, Temperance men, Rum Democrats, Silver Gray Whigs, Hindus, Hard Shell Democrats, Soft Shells, Half Shells and Adopted Citizens. By 1858, they were mostly gone, and politics divided four ways. Republicans controlled most Northern states with a strong Democratic minority. The Democrats were split North and South and fielded two tickets in 1860. Southern non-Democrats tried different coalitions; most supported the Constitutional Union party in 1860. Many Southern states held constitutional conventions in 1851 to consider the questions of nullification and secession. With the exception of South Carolina, whose convention election did not even offer the option of "no secession" but rather "no secession without the collaboration of other states", the Southern conventions were dominated by Unionists who voted down articles of secession. In Kansas around 1855, the slavery issue reached a condition of intolerable tension and violence. But this was in an area where an overwhelming proportion of settlers were merely land-hungry Westerners indifferent to the public issues. The majority of the inhabitants were not concerned with sectional tensions or the issue of slavery. Instead, the tension in Kansas began as a contention between rival claimants. During the first wave of settlement, no one held titles to the land, and settlers rushed to occupy newly open land fit for cultivation. While the tension and violence did emerge as a pattern pitting Yankee and Missourian settlers against each other, there is little evidence of any ideological divides on the questions of slavery. Instead, the Missouri claimants, thinking of Kansas as their own domain, regarded the Yankee squatters as invaders, while the Yankees accused the Missourians for grabbing the best land without honestly settling on it. However, the 1855–56 violence in "Bleeding Kansas" did reach an ideological climax after John Brown– regarded by followers as the instrument of God's will to destroy slavery– entered the melee. His assassination of five pro-slavery settlers (the so-called "Pottawatomie massacre", during the night of May 24, 1856) resulted in some irregular, guerrilla-style strife. Aside from John Brown's fervor, the strife in Kansas often involved only armed bands more interested in land claims or loot. Of greater importance than the civil strife in Kansas, however, was the reaction against it nationwide and in Congress. In both North and South, the belief was widespread that the aggressive designs of the other section were epitomized by (and responsible for) what was happening in Kansas. Consequently, "Bleeding Kansas" emerged as a symbol of sectional controversy. Indignant over the developments in Kansas, the Republicans—the first entirely sectional major party in U.S. history—entered their first presidential campaign with confidence. Their nominee, John C. Frémont, was a generally safe candidate for the new party. Although his nomination upset some of their Nativist Know-Nothing supporters (his mother was a Catholic), the nomination of the famed explorer of the Far West and ex-Senator from California with a short political record was an attempt to woo ex-Democrats. The other two Republican contenders, William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase, were seen as too radical. Nevertheless, the campaign of 1856 was waged almost exclusively on the slavery issue—pitted as a struggle between democracy and aristocracy—focusing on the question of Kansas. The Republicans condemned the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the expansion of slavery, but they advanced a program of internal improvements combining the idealism of anti-slavery with the economic aspirations of the North. The new party rapidly developed a powerful partisan culture, and energetic activists drove voters to the polls in unprecedented numbers. People reacted with fervor. Young Republicans organized the "Wide Awake" clubs and chanted "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, Frémont!" With Southern fire-eaters and even some moderates uttering threats of secession if Frémont won, the Democratic candidate, Buchanan, benefited from apprehensions about the future of the Union. Millard Fillmore, the candidate of the American Party (Know-Nothings) and the Silver Gray Whigs, said in a speech at Albany, New York, that the election of a Republican candidate would dissolve the Union. Abraham Lincoln replied on July 23 in a speech at Galena, Illinois; Carl Sandburg wrote that this speech probably resembled Lincoln's Lost Speech: "This Government would be very weak, indeed, if a majority, with a disciplined army and navy, and a well-filled treasury, could not preserve itself, when attacked by an unarmed, undisciplined, unorganized minority. All this talk about the dissolution of the Union is humbug—nothing but folly. We won't dissolve the Union, and you shan't.   more
0 votes

Geography of North and South.

The United States had become a nation of two distinct regions. The free states in New England, the Northeast, and the Midwest had a rapidly growing economy based on family farms, industry, mining, commerce and transportation, with a large and rapidl... y growing urban population. Their growth was fed by a high birth rate and large numbers of European immigrants, especially British, Irish and German. The South was dominated by a settled plantation system based on slavery. There was some rapid growth taking place in the Southwest (e.G., Texas), based on high birth rates and high migration from the Southeast, but it had a much lower immigration rate from Europe. The heavily rural South had few cities of any size, and little manufacturing except in border areas. Slave owners controlled politics and economics, although about 75% of Southern white families owned no slaves and usually were engaged in subsistence agriculture.[6] Overall, the Northern population was growing much more quickly than the Southern population, which made it increasingly difficult for the South to continue to influence the national government. By the time of the 1860 election, the heavily agricultural southern states as a group had fewer Electoral College votes than the rapidly industrializing northern states. Lincoln was able to win the 1860 Presidential election without even being on the ballot in ten Southern states. Southerners felt a loss of federal concern for Southern pro-slavery political demands, and their continued domination of the Federal government was threatened. This political calculus provided a very real basis for Southerners' worry about the relative political decline of their region due to the North growing much faster in terms of population and industrial output. In the interest of maintaining unity, politicians had mostly moderated opposition to slavery, resulting in numerous compromises such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820. After the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1847, the issue of slavery in the new territories led to the Compromise of 1850. While the compromise averted an immediate political crisis, it did not permanently resolve the issue of the Slave power (the power of slaveholders to control the national government on the slavery issue). Part of the 1850 compromise was the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, requiring that Northerners assist Southerners in reclaiming fugitive slaves, which many Northerners found to be extremely offensive. Amid the emergence of increasingly virulent and hostile sectional ideologies in national politics, the collapse of the old Second Party System in the 1850s hampered efforts of the politicians to reach yet one more compromise. The compromise that was reached (the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act) outraged many northerners, and led to the formation of the Republican Party, the first major party with no appeal in the South. The industrializing North and agrarian Midwest became committed to the economic ethos of free-labor industrial capitalism. Arguments that slavery was undesirable for the nation had long existed, and early in U.S. history were made even by some prominent Southerners. After 1840, abolitionists denounced slavery as not only a social evil but a moral wrong. Many Northerners, especially leaders of the new Republican Party, considered slavery a great national evil and believed that a small number of Southern owners of large plantations controlled the national government with the goal of spreading that evil. Southern defenders of slavery, for their part, increasingly came to contend that blacks actually benefited from slavery, an assertion that alienated Northerners even further   more
0 votes

The election of Abraham Lincoln

Exacerbating tensions, the old Whig political party was dying. Many of its followers joined with members of the American Party (Know-Nothings) and others who opposed slavery to form a new political entity in the 1850s, the Republican Party. When the...  Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election, Southern fears that the Republicans would abolish slavery reached a new peak. Lincoln was an avowed opponent of the expansion of slavery but said he would not interfere with it where it existed   more
0 votes
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Texas14 says2015-07-13T17:37:38.2093198-05:00
Like three of these are basically the same answer.
sara_ann_dee says2015-07-13T18:07:50.5924646-05:00
Slavery was the cause of fighting and disagreement - which lead to the war.
PetersSmith says2015-07-13T18:33:24.3741389-05:00
Whoever says the slavery disagreement should vote for the option that literally says the slavery disagreement.
imabench says2015-07-13T21:53:14.8739229-05:00
Yeah im with Texas14 here, a lot of these answers are the same answer except they are phrased differently.
sara_ann_dee says2015-07-14T18:22:36.8478121-05:00
My bad...

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