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Constitution and the Civil War

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The states of the South and those of the North were waging political war against one another on the battleground of Washington, D.C. Eventually this political war turned military with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter. The Constitution of the United States was a contributing factor in sparking this war along with other regional and sectional issues.

There is no doubt that the Constitution helped to usher in the outbreak of the Civil War. By failing to address the issue of slavery at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, its authors doomed slavery to be put off until after 1808 when it was growing due to the demand for cotton that the Industrial Revolution began. The Constitution helped to divide the nation in another way as well, in the argument of state vs. national power. Jefferson Davis, and indeed most southerners, believed that is was "Strange, indeed,...(the Constitution has) proved unavailing to prevent the rise and growth in the Northern states of a political school which has persistently claimed that the government thus formed was not a compact between States, but was in effect a national government, set up above and over the States." This quote characterizes perfectly the belief in the South that the states should be more powerful than national government whereas in the North the situation was opposite. The two effects are the most profound ones the Constitution had in starting the Civil War.

Regional issues contributed to the beginning of the Civil War as well. The main divide in this area was the morals of slavery. Abolitionists, coming mostly from the North, such as William Lloyd Garrison believed that "Three millions of the American people (referring to slaves) are crushed under the American Union! They are held as slaves, trafficked as merchandise, registered as goods and chattels!" This is in start contrast to the Southern opinion which held that people of color were inferior to whites and should therefore do the heavy labor for the whites. This was very much a hot button issue in the years leading up to the Civil War.

The final, major set of issues dividing the North and the antebellum South were sectional. It is a fact that the South's economy at that time was dependent on slavery. The demand for cotton and other raw materials had skyrocketed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. To this demand slaves were needed and the slave industry became even



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