• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How far were southerners to blame for the civil war?

Extracts from this document...


How far were southerners to blame for the civil war? During and for years after the war, Northerners blamed Southerners and Southerners blamed Northerners for starting the war. With hindsight today, it is easy to dish out blame and easiest to point the finger at the South. After all it was the Southern states that seceded from the union, and it was obvious to many Southerners at the time, and to most Northerners that the result of such secession would be war. It was the Confederates that fired the first shots of the war at Fort Sumter in April 1861, and in doing so they provoked a conflict that would leave one in four white adult male southerners dead, the South's economy devastated and slavery, the "peculiar institution" they fought to defend, abolished. However because slavery is seen today to be such a morally and ethically wrong and evil thing, people's views can be blurred, leading them to side automatically with the North. There were of course many events that furthered America's sectionalism and eventually led to the civil war, most of which blame can be divided equally. It is therefore necessary to be objective and take each into account, concluding perhaps that the South was not entirely to blame for the civil war, just as Germany was not entirely to blame for the first world war. ...read more.


He also said that any state had the right to secede. In 1832 South Carolina ignored the new import duties and President Jackson threatened to send in troops. Eventually they backed down and excepted a lower set of duties. This escapade and Calhoun's statement about secession threatened the very existence of the union. Blame for this can fall on both the North for selfishly looking after their interests without regard for the South, and on the South for supporting Calhoun's idea of secession which threatened to tear apart the country at such an early stage. Next came the dispute over California and New Mexico. In 1846 USA won a war against Mexico and gained the lands of California and New Mexico. Congressman Wilmot from Pennsylvania proposed that slavery should be banned in all land taken from Mexico. The South opposed Wilmot's proviso, as according to the Missouri compromise, California should be part free and part slave. However the climate of California and New Mexico was unsuitable for cotton growth and it was unlikely that slavery would expand that far west anyway, so there was no need for Wilmot to say what he did. By opening his mouth, Wilmot opened an old wound, making the South firmer in their defense of slavery. Calhoun reiterated his views on secession in his doctrine and tension grew with the Californian gold rush. ...read more.


In 1861 there was no immediate threat to slavery, Lincoln said when he was elected that he would not interfere with slavery in states where it was already established. He thought it would take a hundred years or more before slavery would fade away, and considering the Republicans did not have a majority in Congress in 1860, there was little Lincoln could do to threaten slavery. Despite this, Southern politicians, representing the wishes of their constituents, acted irrationally and established an independent Southern nation, believing they were protecting themselves from the wrath of the North. Most Southerners knew that in doing so they would start a war and some realized at the time the full extent of their mistake. They knew they would start a war and they realized they would lose. The North was far more industrialized and stronger in numbers of men and it was very likely that they would win. Jonathan Worth from North Carolina said in spring 1861 "I think the South is committing suicide, but my lot is cast with the South and being unable to manage the ship, I intend to face the breakers manfully and go down with my companions" If all Southerners had realized their foolishness a lot of bloodshed could have been avoided. However a mass delusion seemed to effect the South, they believed they had to fight to survive. Southerners picked the fight; they fired first and were made to lie in the grave they dug for themselves. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. How far were White weaknesses responsible for Red success in Russian Civil War?

    proven by the Volga Famine in 1920-21, in which more than 3 million people died. It can be argued that Lenin created a machinery of terror and a police state, as the Bolsheviks set up concentration and labour camps for the opposition.

  2. To what extent was the Civil War the main factor in the Bolshevik

    4 To execute prominent and clearly exposed counter-revolutionaries"14. This primary evidence conveys that the fact that they had to establish and use the Cheka to remove opposition shows that there was opposition internally in Russia rather than the more transparent opposition from the Whites, and more attention was set to them as this issue was addressed due to

  1. The Not So Free.

    The other person was General Edwards he was the US specialist in the air he had a medium build and average height he is the kind of guy you wouldn't normally notice. This was where they decide what to do next.

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    The Lebanese Army was told of Israel's intention to withdraw that morning and so were not at hand to take over the IDF positions. Lebanese Forces troops realised at the last minute that a large scale Druze assault was about to take place and began evacuating Christian civilians to Dier Al Qamar.

  1. How did Black Southerners respond to the rising tide of racism and to attempts ...

    Obviously, former slaveholders and their support used such tactics to regain control. To some extent this approach worked, by the 1880's, sharecropping and peonage had replaced slavery and ensured poverty for the majority of blacks until well into the twentieth century.

  2. Why did the South lose the Civil War?

    Not once did a Southern army surrender for want of ammunition, and despite being in terrible disrepair, the Confederacy's railroads somehow fulfilled their task of transporting troops to battle on several notable occasions. Historian Edward Pollard commented that 'something more than numbers make armies', and Southern leader P G T

  1. American Civil War (1861-1865).

    The battle had no clear winner but because General Lee withdrew to Virginia, McClellan was considered the victor. The battle convinced the British and French- who were contemplating official recognition of the confederacy- to reserve action and gave Lincoln the opportunity to announce his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (September 22), which

  2. To what extent can the Southerners be held responsible for the outbreak of the ...

    However the planters of the South ignored such advice and continued to invest their profits into land and slavery to grow more of the staple crops. Many Southerners got rich by using slave labour to produce agricultural staples, so would be very reluctant to have to give it up in order to placate the North.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work