• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11

To what extent can the Southerners be held responsible for the outbreak of the American Civil War?

Extracts from this document...


To What Extent Can the Southerners Be Held Responsible for the Outbreak of the American Civil War? Fiona Slack Candidate No. 1086 Wakefield Girls' High School Centre No. 38225 January 2003 The reasons a nation goes to war are usually various and often complicated, and it is no different with the American Civil War. There are many reasons supporting the view that the Southerners are responsible for the outbreak of the Civil War, it has been argued strongly that it was the Southerners hold of the controversial issue of slavery that led to the increasingly differing sections of the United States. However, the counterargument is that the Southerners felt under growing pressure to secede from the Union by aggressive Northern abolitionists and that it was the Northern reaction to the secession that ultimately led to the Civil War. Yet slavery was not the only source of discord between the two regions. The two sections were very different and they wanted different things from their national government. Many historians believe that the South was to blame for the growing gap economically between the industrialising North and the agricultural South, a gap that led eventually to the secession of the South from the Union and the outbreak of the American Civil War. In the North, society was becoming more industrialised faster than people realised. Immigrants were arriving by the tens of thousands to the Northern ports and systems of transportation and finance were blossoming in a fantastic manner. The developing industry required protection from cheap European imports, and was beginning to clamour for all sorts of aid from the Federal government. In the South, by contrast, society was much more static. ...read more.


He remarked, "of the American Civil War it may safely be asserted that there was a single cause, slavery."2. It was this interest in expanding slavery into the newer states that Rhodes felt drove the South to place the Union under tension. On the other hand, it has been argued in many ways that the Northerners could equally be held responsible for the American Civil War. The Southerners were on the defensive, as had been shown long before the abolitionists appeared on the scene in 1819-20, during the Missouri Crisis, when the North and South argued whether slavery should be permitted in the land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase. It is widely believed that the Southern states genuinely did feel threatened by Northern aggression, that a wild North would destroy the Old South. The South felt dominated in the Union by the Northern states, especially since the arrival of a new political party, the Republican Party. The old Whig party split between the 'Conscience Whigs' (who leaned towards the abolitionists) and the 'Cotton Whigs' (who leaned towards the South). This was electorally disastrous for the Union as it gave the Democrats an unmanageable majority. The Democratic Party was also showing signs of breaking into sectional wings. In the North there had risen the new Republican Party, an amalgamation of former Whigs, free-soilers, business leaders who wanted a central government that would protect industry and some Northern Democrats, whose compromise leader was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was against the spread of slavery into the new territories but was not an abolitionist, coming from a humble upbringing in Kentucky. The Republican Party was the first political party to come open with a definite antislavery platform, which the Southerners found very threatening. ...read more.


Secession did not inevitably mean war. If the new Lincoln government and the Northern people had been willing to accept secession, the two halves of the former United States might have coexisted in an uneasy peace. But most Northerners, like abolitionists such as John Brown and Henry Ward Beecher, were not willing to tolerate the dismemberment of the United States and were prepared to make war in order to put an immediate end to the degrading institution of slavery. These leaders, through either words or actions, were able to convince the majority that it was necessary to go to war, a and in order to convince them they justified the war with arguments that only indirectly referred to the subject of slavery. Conflicts of interest were present between the farming South and the industrialising North, but issues like tariffs, banks and land grants divided parties and interest groups more than they did North and South. Southern politicians convinced their majority that the North was threatening their way of life and their culture. Northern politicians convinced their majority that the South would seriously damage democratic government if they were allowed to secede. But it was not only about slavery. It was also about the constitutional argument of antebellum Southern culture. Although the majority of Southerners had a little interest in slaves, slavery was the primary interest of Southern politicians and consequently the underlying causes of the South's desire to seek independence and slave rights. In conclusion, both sides can be held responsible for the outbreak of the Civil War. Both sections misunderstood the motives and threats of the other, which held to heightened emotions where there need not be. Underlying everything was slavery, however, slavery was not the only cause of the Civil War, but it was unquestionably the one cause without which the war would not have taken place. ...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. To what extent were germany to blame for the outbreak of ww1

    They believed that by mobilising Germany had in affect declared war. I would strongly agree with this. I am aware, however some historians would disagree as in the 1920's and 1930's the idea of a more general responsibility gained ground in both political and academic cities.

  2. "The main cause of the American civil war was undeniably slavery". Assess the ...

    This widened the cultural and ideological gaps during the years leading up to the Civil War. The economic aspect of slavery was probably the focal argument of pro-slavery southerners. Their argument was that if slavery was taken away then their economy would be massively reduced and not able to survive.

  1. To what extent was Hitler solely responsible for the Holocaust

    all of whom were committed to anti-Jewish campaigning. These figures clearly show that there was indeed no shortage of volunteers. In addition, ordinary Germans were seen as implicated in various stages of Jewish persecution-for example, their role in Kristallnacht. Although orchestrated by party activists (in particular the SA), ordinary Germans

  2. To What extent was German Foreign Policy responsible for the outbreak of general European ...

    Sooner rather than later a relatively minor conflict would bring all the nations into a clash that would result in a war.

  1. Free essay

    To what extent are Walter Scott(TM)s novels a product of the Scottish Enlightenment? Discuss ...

    of Waverley would be that its author did not intend it as a serious attempt to integrate the seminal ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment in to literary form; rather, that he meant the work to be a popular historical fiction the sales of which would starve-off his mounting debts and

  2. How far was the USSR responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?

    would be guaranteed, but ever since the post-war conferences, the West had refused to punish Germany as harshly. In 1947-1948 tension arose because it became apparent that the Western allies were going to go ahead with a separate West Germany and incorporate West Berlin into that state.

  1. How far were southerners to blame for the civil war?

    This issue was debated across the country; the South saw Tallmadge's proposal as an attack on their political power. In the House of Representatives the North already had a large majority and if any new states were to be free, any of the South's wishes could be ignored in both houses.

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

    as the unpopularity of White generals such as Denikin, Yudenich and Kolchak with the peasants. Each general established a regime that he supported in the area that he was in charge of, and considering the various beliefs of groups within the Whites, it was not uncommon for White armies to fight each other.

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