Causes of American Civil War
There are three reasons as to why the civil war took place, they are states’ rights, slavery and sectionalism. States believed the federal government had too much control over them and what they were allowed to do about slavery. The North and South were arguing over whether there should or should not be slavery and slaves were fighting for their freedom. All three were major parts of the war, but the question remains, which reason was the sole reason for the start of the civil war? Slavery was the reason the north and south were fighting, and it was also the reason why states were having serious issues with the federal government.
Without slavery, neither of the other two problems would have been a problem.
Edward Rudgemer blames the civil war on sectionalism. Most of his writings are based off the work of Professor Ashworth. He mentions him and his work multiple times throughout his article as reference to sectionalism is the leading cause to the Civil War.
He believes “the coming of the Civil War is best understood as the clash of two antagonistic ideologies proslavery and antislavery.” Rudgemer mentions more than once that the North had controlled the federal government due to their believing in antislavery. He goes on to explain each of the North and South’s views on slavery and how their economic issues could have potentially affected the outcome.
If the states would have been allowed to make their own decisions on slavery, then perhaps the Civil war may have been avoided.
Timothy Sandefur, a libertarian, believes to have found that the civil war was because the federal government was not allowing the states to have their own opinion on slavery and that the federal government had too much power over them. Sandefur said,
The new Constitution would solve this problem by creating a new kind of government—one of “divided sovereignty,” partly national and partly federal, in which all of the people of America would vest the national government with a part—limited and enumerated—of their sovereignty.
The states needed this, so they could become more independent. Everything was constantly a battle between states government and federal government which led the states to start fighting for their independence.
The point of the U.S. constitution was to protect the rights of slaves. Paul Finkelman stated, “As almost all historians have increasingly recognized, the institution of slavery was the primary cause of secession and, consequently, of the Civil War.” Lincoln needed the constitutional power to help him end slavery because he always thought slavery was wrong. Paul Finkelman goes on to explain that in 1868 and 1870 two amendments were passed which allowed former slaves and their children to have the same voting rights as Americans. The cause of the Civil War to Paul Finkelman was slavery.
Michael woods was a firm believer that slavery was the cause of the Civil war and the disagreement between the North and South. “slavery and freedom remain the keys to understanding the war.” He goes on to say that this conflict creates more questions which is why many historians agree. Throughout this article, Edwards writes about how people should question the reasons for the Civil War because it will cause you to dig farther into history. “Early national battles over slavery did not make the Civil War inevitable, but in the hands of propagandists they could make the war seem inevitable to many contemporaries.”
Forty years before the American Civil War the tension between the north and south states became more noticeable when the expansion of slavery in the western states was debated. Britney Deruchowski writes about how the debate about slavery is what led to the northern and southern states having tension. The Missouri Compromise allowed for Missouri to be a slave state which led to people, like Deruchowski, to question the morals of the U.S. citizens and it also was a leading factor in the Civil War. She goes on to explain that the North and South were apart of the reason for this war, but it mainly focused on the economical and political powers and fears of the union. Deruchowski didn’t blame the entire war on slavery, but every factor does some how lead back to slavery in her article.
John Fazio said, “Slavery was an issue that divided the states even in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.” He believed slavery had started diving states before the Civil War was beginning. Slavery had started problems between states and federal government too. All of these earlier issues led up to the Civil War. Slavery was a constant debate in congress, they never seemed to come to a single answer, so for years slavery was a constant topic to discuss.
Johann Neem talks about the society as a whole and how the effect of one social party effects everyone else too. There was no social trust on the slaves end dur to them constantly being owned by whites and not be allowed to do things for themselves. Slaves were not allowed to have their own opinion which led to bigger arguments between people’s differences in views. “Without the authoritative structures of the old order, mod-ern democratic societies rely on social trust to prevent violence and/or excessively self-interested behavior.”
Sectionalism and states’ rights will always be a factor of the Civil War, but in the end, slavery is the biggest cause for it. It was the reason for sectionalism and states’ rights which is why they are also factors that play in to the sole reason behind Civil War. The president, Abraham Lincoln, was trying to put an end to it and once the war ended, not long after slavery came to an end, sectionalism ended and so did the argument between states and the federal government.