Territorial expansion was the main cause of the civil war. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
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Jennifer Felipe IB Contemporary History Topic: Territorial expansion was the main cause of the civil war. To what extent do you agree with this statement? The civil war is associated with southern succession, slavery, and the Republican Party, all factors which this dispute entailed. The initiation for such conflict though, lies in the territorial expansion that Americans believed was destined for the United States at the time. Territorial expansion pinned Americans against one another when debating whether the new states should be slaves states or not, questioned the power the Federal government had in comparison to states' rights, and put at risk the unity of the U.S.A as a nation. With a vast majority of land acquired through agreements such as the Louisiana Purchase it was difficult to decide whether slavery should spread further west, not do so, or be equally distributed.
The expansion was enough to destroy the sense of nationalism that was heartedly felt during the American Revolution. As the dispute escalated and became more emotional, states such as Kansas and Nebraska felt they deserved the right to choose independently from what the federal government had proposed. They passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which the idea of "popular sovereignty" was strongly agreed upon, the choice as to whether the state should be admitted as free or not they believed, depended solely on the citizens living there. Unfortunately this led to a great upheaval which ended in a bloody fight amongst the residents in Kansas, but fortunately yielded the Republican Party which opposed the spread of slavery and played a key role in the development of the war. The Fugitive Slave Act, which demanded that escaped slaves to Free states be forcibly returned to their owners, angered many and tilted the loyalty from federal to the more dependable state pride.
Such dissimilar personal interests made the two regions feud and develop a separation that grew all a result of the expansion. With the threat of the succession of the south, the civil war became long and costly. Not only was the survival of the U.S as one nation at risk, but the ideas of liberty, equality, and justice all depended on the outcome of the war. In summation, territorial expansion, in comparison to slavery or economic greed was of a greater degree a main cause of the civil war. Expansion led to a heated debate over slavery that threatened the unity of the United States, and called into question the federal government's power over that of the states. Had it not been for the westward territorial gain, slavery would not have been called into question as quickly and the emancipation of the slaves would have been deterred perhaps a couple of decades.
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