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Autor: reviewessays • February 19, 2011 • Research Paper • 5,828 Words (24 Pages) • 1,960 Views
The American Civil War
The beginning of the Civil War cannot be linked to only one reason; some causes were centuries in the making, while others were relatively new happenings, but put together, they all changed a country before considered \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"one component\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" and divided it into two opposing parties. The Southern states wanted to become an independent
nation, divided from the North altogether since there were deep economic, social and political differences between both regions. The North favoured a loose interpretation of the US constitution and they wanted to grant the federal government increased powers. While the South wanted to reserve all undefined powers to individual states.
The Civil War eventually began in 1861 and carried on through 1865 and was the only war fought on American soil by Americans themselves. The casualty count is believed to have amounted to 600,000, where the total number of forces is believed to have been around 3 million. The forces came from 23 Northern states of the Union and the Confederate States of America, which consisted of 11 states that declared their secession from the Union
The Division of the Country and Origins of the Conflict
Most (if not all Americans) supported the ideology of \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Manifest Destiny\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" by which American citizens considered the whole of the Northern Hemisphere the divine right of the US. This aggressive foreign policy fed the ravenous appetite of a country with an expanding economy and population where both free and slave states adopted a \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"winner takes all\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" policy while expanding their territory. In the year 1800, the whole area considered to be the United States was less than 1,000,000 mi2 but it doubled with the Louisiana State Purchase (1803). The area almost doubled again between the years 1846 and 1848 after the war with Mexico.
The war with Mexico was a clear attempt by Southern Statesmen to secure more slave states, but in the same light Northerners pushed for \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Homestead\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" Bills which were used to pay people to settle the Midwest and cried \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"54-40 or fight\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" in demanding the Oregon territory from Britain (implying that the British should give up 54% of the land or otherwise they would engage in colflict with Americans). Later, the 1854 \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Kansas-Nebraska Act\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" was another dramatic
episode in the struggle between free and slave states where greed led to warfare. The U.S. Constitution was not clear on whether states or federals should control the territories Illinois Senator Stephan A.Douglas eventually proposed residents of the territory in question would decide- the Kansas-Nebraska Act revoked the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which drew the regional line between free and slave states and it was assumed that anti-slavery advocates would vote for Nebraska and pro-slavery advocates would vote for Kansas. Nebraska was not problematic, as its settlers favored the status of free state. However, the status of Kansas was bitterly fought over since it was North of 36o 30\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' latitude, and in 1855 Bushwackers (pro-slavery advocates) and Jayhawkers (anit-slavery advocates) swarmed the territory. When voter-fraud became public knowledge, both sides exchanged armed threats which then lead to open warfare (and thus the land became known as \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Bleeding Kansas\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\").
As a result of this conflict, the Whig party was destroyed, the dominant Democrats became divided into North and South Factions, and a new political party (later known as the Republicans) was inspired and would evntually rise to presidency in six years.
Invoking more controversy, both the Fugitive Slave Law (1850) and the Dred Scott Decision (1857) prompted Abraham Lincoln\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s speech of acceptance for his party\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s nomination for the US senate (1858), stating that the US could not continue with half slave and half free states.
The Fugitive Slave Law was one of five bills which set measures intended to offer concessions to slave and free soil advocates; a similar law had been in effect since the adoption of the Constitution, but according to it Federal participation was required in capturing runaway slaves. The 1850 version stipulated that any black in the North could be considered a fugitive slave who, when captured, could not testify or even call witnesses to defend their position.
The Dred Scott decision was brought about by a slave whose owner took him to the Northern free states. Scott attempted to sue his owner for his freedom, but the court dismissed the case citing Scott was not a citizen so he could not take his case to a Federal Court. Chief Justice Roger Taney stated that African Americans were \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"so far inferior they had no rights which white men were bound to respect;\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" implying that any person of African heritage (free or slave) was not a citizen. Moreover, the Court declared that the 1820 Missouri Compromise (which forbade slavery west of Missouri and North of 36o 30\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' latitude) was unconstitutional.
Not long after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1858, seven deep South states for which slavery and cotton plantation agriculture were most dominant, seceded and formed the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861 with Jefferson Davis as the President. The Confederate States of America was composed of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Lousiana, and Texas and they developed a Constitution very close to that of the US Constitution. Following the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12-14, 1861 in South Carolina, Lincoln called for troops from the remaining states to recover the forts, resulting in the secession of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee and their joining the Confederate States of America in 1861.
Four slave states did not secede though, and one seceding state split (they became known as border states); Delaware (voted for John C. Breckinridge) had few slaves but never considered secession. Maryland also voted for Breckinridge, but in April its Legislature rejected secession (after the rioting in Baltimore a Federal Declaration of Martial Law was prompted). Missouri and Kentucky remained in the Union, but in both, factions organized secessions which were recognized by the Conferderate States of America.
Another major cause of the civil war was the poor leadership in both the North and South. In 1858, the future Secretary of State