DBQ Causes of Civil War
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The Civil War was the greatest and most important war ever to be fought on American soil. Though the events leading to the civil war had been ongoing for some time, the Civil War was never inevitable; it was the result of prejudices and extremism and failures in leadership on the sides of both the North and the South. The Civil War was at first a war to bring back the secessionists back to the union but it later became a much greater event, a war to end slavery and a war forever remembered by the America peoples. The South had many grievances against the North and vice versa and these problems later evolved into the war against the lifeblood of the South: Slavery. And thus, all slaves were set free by an act, an act long remembered by the colored peoples of America, The Emancipation proclamation. Before the war had been fought by the North to bring the South back in to the Union and by the South to stay a separate country. Now it was by north to free all slaves and by south to protect their livelihood. The Fight was on. The United States of America vs. The Confederate States of America.
Firstly, The war was based on age-old prejudice and extremism. The South used to think of the North as money-grabbing “yellow bellies” while the Northerners thought of the south as hillbillies and oppressors of the weak and disadvantaged, namely the blacks. The South did a lot of things that severely angered the North. One such thing was the Fugitive Slave Act. This Act made it possible for representatives of slave owners to capture back slave and prosecute anyone that had helped the slaves. Many Northerners were abolitionists and this made them angry as they themselves had helped many slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. Another issue that angered the North was the Brooks vs. Sumner clash. This event could have largely been avoided if Brooks had kept a cooler head. But this event drew a large number of Republican votes, which in turn would help jump-start the civil war. This was because the Republicans, a new party, were anti slavery and also the party that Abraham Lincoln would eventually join.
Another major event that triggered the civil war was the Dred Scott Decision. This decision was largely unfair as it allowed slaves to come into “free” territories, thus defeating the whole purpose of making the territories slave free. The North too angered the South in many ways. The Northern section had the majority; majority in population and majority of states. The North and West possessed the vast majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Though this became apparent to some people at the 1856 election, in which the North and West had split votes but still had a big majority. But it became truly apparent after the 1956 election in which Abraham Lincoln became president. This aggravated the South as most southern states had not even put Lincoln’s name on the ballot. The South was fully justified in their concern about loss of political power in the Union and so the South opted for an extreme measure. Secession.
Another reason for the Civil War was failures in leadership on the sides of both the North and the South. These incapabilities were apparent since the birth of the republic and the framing of The Constitution. The Constitution had ignored the problem of slavery as a whole as they didn’t want to fragment the already fragile republic with a civil war at the beginning. In fact they postponed the date to ban slave trade into the union in an act to be activated in 1808. A second problem with the political leaders was that they could not remain impartial: they either took one side or the other.
If the major political leaders such as the presidents remained impartial, the Civil War could have been avoided. In President Pierce’s inaugural address he said that he said that he believed involuntary servitude was protected by law; clearly a one-sided belief. Also in President Buchanan’s inaugural address he said that slavery only existed because the majority had wanted it and that majority still wanted it. This too was another clear misconception. In another address of Buchanan’s, namely his fourth inaugural address, he said the South had endured many evils but it was the problem over slavery and abolitionism, which had influenced the minds of Northerners with abolitionist ideas for so long that they actually believed it, that drove the South away from the Union to become the Confederate States of America.
The Civil war had many causes, but none of them come even close to the cases of extremism and failures in leadership on both the Confederate and the Union side. If the North had not openly defied the South over the Fugitive Slave act, if Brooks had kept his head, if the judges had not been partial towards the South over the Dred Scott Issue, if Missouri Compromise hadn’t been drawn in such a way as to lock in the South, if the South had more people, the Political leaders weren’t prejudiced against the South, if there weren’t such huge gaps in economical and social ways of living in the North and South and, better communication existed between them, the Civil war might have never taken place and America’s face would be unblemished by a mark; a mark that had come because of a war between Americans and Americans.