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The American Revolution Essay, Research Paper

American Civil War

Ever since the beginnings of America there have been consequential events that led to the American Civil War. Throughout history, there has been much controversy over whether this war was or was not unavoidable. Upon looking back into the chronicles of history and the longtime conflict between the North and the South, one can see that the American Civil War was undeniably inevitable.

One major contributor of aggravation between North and South was the belief in Manifest Destiny. In 1844, Texas was a leading issue in the presidential campaign. The foes of expansion opposed annexation, while southerners cried “Texas or Disunion.” Many “conscience Whigs” feared that Texas in the Union would add to the slave power. Therefore, President Tyler arranged for annexation by a joint resolution.

After the war with Mexico, the United States acquired a huge expanse of land. This raised the question of whether slavery should be extended into the territories. Northern antislaveryites strongly supported the Wilmot Proviso, which flatly prohibited slavery in any territory acquired in the Mexican War. Southern senators blocked the passage of this proviso continuously. This debate split national politics along North-South sectional lines.

The second major area that was influential in leading up to the Civil War was social reform. The 2nd Great Awakening sparked a crusade to abolish slavery. Charles Grandison Finney was a prominent minister that encouraged revivalist activity and abolitionism. By 1857, the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians had split into northern and southern sects over the issue of slavery.

In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison published the first issue of his militantly antislavery newspaper, The Liberator. Consequently, in 1835, the Washington government ordered southern postmasters to destroy all abolitionist material. This started the controversy over free speech in the United States.

Sectional tensions were further strained in 1852 when Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This book awakened the North to the wickedness of slavery and gained the support of the working classes in England and France. Hinton R. Helper’s book, The Impending Crisis of the South, attempted to prove that indirectly the nonslaveholding whites suffered the most from slavery.

The third major field of discontent between the North and South was politics. Generally speaking, the North supported a strong, central federal government, while the South was in favor of states’ rights. As far back as 1793-1800, Alexander Hamilton of the Federalist party, and Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican party, contended over the opposing types of government. Jefferson and his friend James Madison wrote the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions. Both stressed the compact theory that declared states’ rights to nullify unconstitutional legislation by the federal government.

The War of 1812 was another wedge between the North and South. Federalists opposed this war and lent money and food to the British. The crippling of the war effort and the outright ridiculing of the Jeffersonian embargo were the two of the most damaging acts of nullification in America prior to the events leading to the Civil War.

The Compromise of 1850 aroused much hostility from the North and the South. It admitted California to the Union as a free state, thus tipping the Senate balance permanently against the South. It also included the new Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which declared that fleeing slaves could not testify in their own behalf, and they were denied a jury trial. This law aroused strong opposition in the North. Massachusetts nullified this act by making it a penal offense for any state official to enforce it.

In 1854, a new political party was organized in reaction to Stephen A. Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act. This Republican party, which was not allowed south of the Mason-Dixon line, protested strongly against the gains of slavery. Their defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dred Scott case infuriated Southerners. Thus, the Republicans contributed to the hostile relations between the North and South.

The final division between North and South came when South Carolina seceded in 1860. Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed suit immediately after. The seceding states met at Montgomery, Alabama, and created the Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis as their president.

In conclusion, the friction between the North and South during the years before the Civil War made it impossible for the war to be avoided. All of the preceding events contributed to the hostile conditions in some way. Thousands of lives were taken in this war because men were fighting for a cause that they believed in. Their efforts brought an end to a conflict that would have eventually erupted in the future. Therefore, the American Civil War was, indeed, inevitable.


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