To what extent did the American Civil War succeed in removing the two main causes of conflict: slavery and sectionalism, between the North and South?

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To what extent did the American Civil War succeed in removing the two main causes of conflict: slavery and sectionalism, between the North and South?

The causes of the Civil War are a subject that have fascinated historians for generations, provoking many different interpretations. From my study I have found slavery and sectionalism to be the most important causes. In the short term, the war did not succeed in eradicating these causes of conflict and actually incited further problems, such as racism and violence. The Reconstruction period failed to achieve its main aims, which were to re-unite the two sections of North and South into the Union, and to help the Negro to infiltrate that country as a citizen, and not a slave. I also aim to show that these forces are still evident in American society today, and therefore bring the historical argument up to date.

        Sectionalism is a multi-faceted cause, and many historians have stressed different aspects of this sectionalism as the cause of conflict. Cultural and social historians emphasise the contrast between the civilisations and values of the two regions, whereas progressive historians stress the economic gulf between the North and South, and Marxist historians believe the class difference was the overriding cause of conflict.

        These views are valid as a detailed insight into particular areas of sectionalism, however their narrow viewpoint ignores other contributing factors. The most reliable view is provided by Kennet M Stampp, who demonstrates that sectionalism was a culmination of these factors which together were a major cause of conflict. He uses a variety of sources, both contemporary and secondary, to provide a balanced evaluation. This is juxtaposed to other historians who may have used a limited range of sources or been influenced by the predominant view of the time.

        Other historians, however, have singled out slavery to be the cause of the sectional crisis, and indeed the war. Northern historians such as James Ford Rhodes particularly uphold this view:

“…of the American Civil War it may safely be asserted that there was a cause, slavery”

Slavery certainly was a huge force in America. In 1860, four million people were slaves with more that three million of these working in the South.

        Nonetheless, revisionist historians have argued that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War. This could possibly have been due to a new influx of evidence, or a particular historical debate. However, recently, historians have criticised these accounts for failing to appreciate the moral urgency of the slavery issue, and have given renewed emphasis to slavery as the cause of the conflict. Despite these different interpretations, it was both the multi-faceted nature of sectionalism and slavery, which caused the Civil War.

        According to law, slavery was removed after the American Civil War with the Emancipation Proclamation of September 22 1862:

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        “All persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of a state… shall be…

forever free”

This however, did not free them from the racism and discrimination that their emancipation incited. The Southern image of the Negro was shaped by their slave past, and therefore the image had not changed despite the war. For example, Brogan says: “…the mind of the section… is continuous with the past” Cash and his book are themselves strong evidence of the continuation of these ideas, even one hundred and forty years later. Other historians are in accordance with this view:

“Southern ...

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