What Started the Civil War Essay Example
What started this was sectionalism between the northern and southern states and the ideas of labor/slavery. The north was predominantly more industrial, manufacturing, and modern where the south was trying to hold onto more of what they believe are traditional economic values. The south economically was based on agricultural goods which used slave labor. In the south they feel they needed slavery to ensure there way of life and that it should expand with the expansion of the nation. If this didn’t happen, they felt that there way of life and economics would end along with slavery. Sectionalism between southern states who wanted slavery and the north who wanted free labor, where more the south than the north felt they were being threatened by the ideas of ending slavery.
The expansion of the country vastly happened with the Mexican American war. This war was over Texas and most of the western states. This separated the north from the south even more mostly by politics over slavery. David Wilmot stated after the Mexican American war that “neither slavery or involuntary servitude” should be permitted in the new territory and land acquired. This provoked southern politicians by saying they weren’t good enough and to exclude them from the newly acquired territory. This had grown a new political party, the republican party that specifically supported this principle.
The Kansas-Nebraska act was supposed to be for the railroad expansion to the western states. While introducing this bill the issue of slavery in these new territories and states, he decided that to gain popular vote by the south he would back the repeal of the Missouri compromise. The Missouri compromise was that territories that applied for state hood would vote on the issue of slavery but until that time they would remain neutral on the issue.
There was an imaginary line drawn dividing slave states, non-slave states and neutral territories. The Kansas- Nebraska act reopened the issue of slavery in these territories again. This also led to a great fall out known as “bleeding Kansas”, this was violent political battles between anti-slavery and pro slavery politicians and voters. The people that settle in these territories were from the north, bringing their votes to make it a free territory. These settlers were offered money to move there from wealthy abolitionists and free soiler’s. People from Missouri, which was a slave state would come across the boarder during elections to vote on the issue of slavery and would rig the election, bully voters to try to sway elections in their favor. This ended up having two territories within one where both were claiming they were the official government of Kansas.
Political parties after the Kansas-Nebraska Act changed the two political parties into republican and democrat parties. These parties were divided mainly based on slavery views republicans, ant slavery and democrats, pro slavery. The republican party was the first official party that took an anti-slavery view and stance. The presidential election of 1852 marked the beginning of the end of the Whig party. With its northern and southern wings divided over Slave Law.
The Democrats chose Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire as their candidate. Although both parties supported the Compromise of 1850, the Democrats were able to better overcome their internal differences, and Pierce won a landslide victory. The Whigs never recovered from the defeat. As the Whig party fell apart, Americans formed new political alignments. Southern Whigs moved into the Democratic party, while northern Whigs joined the new Republican party. In addition, another party, the American party (also known as the Know‐Nothings) attracted anti‐immigration nativists, opponents of the extension of slavery.
The 1856 election led to the republican party’s new strategy which was the opposition to the expansion of slavery. They also included women in their political campaign, which the democrats did not. Woman helped in the 1856 campaign including public speaking, many northern women liked the republican party as they did not condone slavery and compared it to their own issues of equality. In that same year John Brown (an activist) said “these men are all talk. What we need is action-action”, John Brown and supporters killed five men in the Pottawatomie massacre that supported slavery. In 1859 John Brown led an attack at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in an attempt to start a movement that he hoped would spread through Virginia and North Carolina. John Brown was captured after he took the Federal armory and was the first man that was tried and executed for treason in the United States.
There were other issues that were aiding the sectional divide in the country such as the Dred Scott decision. Dred Scott a slave that lived in Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin for years and went to the supreme court over the right to be a free man. This started because his owner had died, and he believed that with no owner and having lived in states that had laws against slavery that he should be granted his freedom. The initial state court found in his favor, but the jury ruled for him to be free. Mrs. Emerson, the wife of the deceased slave owner had appealed the decision, so it went to the federal court. The federal court decided that they could not rule against state law based on the fifth amendment, which states that the government cannot violate property rights of a citizen. The court also said that Dred Scott was not a citizen because he was of African descent. So, the northerners and abolitionists against slavery felt betrayed be the decision that essentially nullified and violated state law and said that all of America was for slavery. This added to the growing divide among the north and south.
The 1860 election brought forward Abraham Lincoln who had served in legislature and congress from 1847-1849. He retired from politics and started a law firm, which was very successful with clients like the Illinois Central Railroad. Though he had retired from congress he still had political ambitions and was increasingly worried about the rising tensions over the expansion of slavery. He entered politics as a republican and took up the moral stance against slavery, he stated that “the only way to solve the sectional impasse over slavery, was for one side or the other side to yield. And to which side should yield? To this there can only be one answer: the side which is in the wrong”. Lincoln stated that a divided house can not stand. In 1858 he ran for a seat on the senate and lost but this added in the republican party taking notice of him. The democrat convention of 1860 was a heated debate about weather to run on proslavery platform. On the second time convincing over the issue, the first time some of the politicians had walked out on the issue which had led to a second convention meeting over the platform to run on. During the republican convention they ran on antislavery but to sway northern democrats they ran on this issue in a soft manner.
The 1860 election had brought back the “glory” of campaigning with stump speeches, parades and barbecues. During this Lincoln had said that the southern threats of secession were a bluff and did not believe them. During this the south was in fear for Lincoln winning and that it would ruin their economy, public safety and way of life. The election had a very high turnout of 80 percent and the first republican (Abraham Lincoln) won by majority of popular and electoral votes. After the election results this led to the southern states seceding from the north.