Oct 26, 2018
Unit 2 Summative Assessment
Why was there a civil war in the United States in 1861?
The inevitable civil war of 1861 fought by the North and South in America, with the North taking the win and abolished the long-term terror of slavery. This historical event led discussions about reasons to why there was a civil war. Although the civil war revolves around the consistent topic of slavery, there were many factors to why the Civil war happened. Before the war, development of the United States had led to many disagreements, including Westward expansion and the complicated political system, but most importantly the North regarded to end slavery, yet the south believed that slavery was a core to their economy. Therefore, the civil war occurred due to the quick expansion of the United States, the split of political parties, and they were branches from the anti-slavery abolitionists.
The westward expansion of the United States pushed the North and South to disagree between the ideas of slavery. The Manifest Destiny triggered the beliefs of Americans to expand. Although the main philosophy behind the Manifest Destiny was to expand American land by depriving the Mexican territory, it became negative when the native's land was taken away by the Americans and continue to lose profit. (Foner 468) A famous image by John Gast, who painted the American Progress had an angel descending from the sky as a representation for Americans to strive for liberty, yet, in the bottom of the painting, we see Indians retreating from their land. Ideas of modernization are shown with the railroad tracks in the background along with the fenced animals. The painting from Gast reflects the "ebullient spirit of manifest destiny." (Foner 461) By surfacing the problems with the westward expansion, as Americans were too eager to pave tracks for freedom and they forgot about the other groups of people. (Foner 461) Therefore, with the philosophy behind Westward Expansion, it shows that the Americans were isolating people from different communities from the beginning up until the civil war. Another important event before the civil war was the issuing of the Missouri Compromise, to turn Missouri into a slave state and Maine to be a free state. (Foner 473) Although it was meant for sectional peace amongst the people, however, according to Thomas Jefferson's letter to John Holmes, The Missouri Compromise marks a "geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated." (Thomas Jefferson) The letter implies that for the long term, the Missouri Compromise had unintentionally divided the country between North and South. Thus, shows during the civil war, when the sections fought against each other. (Foner 473) Consequently, the ideologies and expansion that ushered the two sides of America to disagree eventually contributed to the Civil war.
The Slavery abolition movement allowed pro-slavery and anti-slavery people to see their differences. Writings from black abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass speaks up about the abolition of slavery when he points out the hypocrisy that America has about liberty (Frederick Douglass). Douglass speaks, "The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me." "This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine." (Douglass) He indicates that although Americans speak of equal manhood, it is not shown through the continuous dread of slavery. The day of freedom assigned by the people, yet it is only applied to the slave owners and white Americans. Therefore, using this speech, Douglass wants to spread the slave narrative to not only motivate people of color, but it is also a response to people who pro-slavery. Despite have anti-slavery abolitionists, there are pro-slavery writers towards the south who has produced writings that advocate for slavery, writers such as George Fitzhugh who counteracts the anti-slavery community and speaks up to why slavery is important in the South. Fitzhugh argues that the "Negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child." (George Fitzhugh) Along the lines of such words, Fitzhugh claims that slavery is to prevent burden to the society, and society has the right to restrict the trouble. Fitzhugh continues to account the benefits of slavery by saying "The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, is the freest people in the world." (Fitzhugh) He means to say that the children are comfortable and has all the necessities provided for them. Writers like Fitzhugh catapults the ideas of pro-slavery upon people and is the reason why the end of slavery took so long, as not all people oppose slavery. As times go by, events such as the Dred Scott decision brought back the awareness of slavery and proved the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional. On March 6, 1857 when Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion of the court, which says "neither Dred Scott himself, nor any of his family, were made free by being carried into this territory; even if they had been carried there by the owner with the intention of becoming a permanent residentâ€¦" (Roger B. Taney) This opinion of the court voices that slaves were not a citizen of the United States and will not grant them equal rights even if their owners permitted it. This event intensified national separation, ruled Missouri compromise unconstitutional and proved it to be a failed attempt to loosen the tension caused by slavery. So, with the back and forth debate about slavery in the course of time triggered the happenings of the civil war.
Political parties in America encourages people to split and go against each other. With the complicated party system in the United States, it is inevitable to form different communities for people within the country to participate. The most popular parties were the Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats limited federal government and hard money issues, while the Republicans formed to run the Homestead act and land grants to the railroad. Though the founding fathers of America did not intend for the political system to split, it ultimately happened due to the different beliefs of the Americans. The split of party systems finalized when Abraham Lincoln won the election in 1860 (Foner 493-494) As of 1860, the North had become a complex and unified economy and industrialist marketing goods, (Foner 479) and although the South had wealth, it involved in the slave economy. (Foner 479) Towards the eve of the civil war, states in the south that seceded along with the first secession of South-Carolina forming the Confederate to fight against the Union. (Foner 495-496) Even with Lincoln's election, parts of the states did not agree that it justified the disband of the Union. (Foner 497) During Lincoln's "A House Divided" Speech when people nominated him to run for U.S Senate, he used the speech to speak about the future of slavery and how it may infiltrate all states in America. He predicts that this argument will not end, as he "believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free". And "It will become all one thing, or all the other." This speech indicates that even with Lincoln's presidency, he did not believe that the civil war was preventable, furthermore admit that something must happen to put America to place. Therefore, showing that despite American forming party systems to avoid political conflict, it eventually led to more complications. Along with beliefs of slavery and advocation for it, the political parties in America drove the people to split and triggered the civil war.
Charleston Bay on April 12th, 1861, the official start of the civil war when Confederate forces bombarded the Union restrained Fort Sumter. Despite the civil war triggered due to a political conflict, it is untrue to say that it was solely due to the presidency. The civil war was inevitable according to Lincoln, as America had become divided by various reason and needed a closure to where the country is heading. The United States needed an end to slavery and the civil war succeeded this hardship. Along with expanding the country, where America had become a devil to others when depriving land of them. Therefore, the mistakes made in America were made up by the tragedy that is the civil war. Nevertheless, it is a lesson to the people actions such as westward expansion and forming political parties need to be thought out thoroughly. Lastly, the civil war of American would have never fought and occurred if it was not due to Slavery; on an ongoing issue in America.
...(download the rest of the essay above)