Slavery Was The Most Important Cause Of The Civil War In The United States

Emily Levine
“Slavery was the most important cause of the Civil War in the United States.” To what extent do you agree with these judgements?
Slavery was the most important cause for the onset of the Civil War because this issue separated the North and the South ideologically. This ideological difference led to their economic differences, the conflict over new territories, constitutional disputes, extremism and political blunders. Furthermore, the Election of 1860 along with their differences pushed succession of the South in 1961 and guided the way towards Civil War.
Economic Differences
•Sectionalism– 1820 through 1850
•The Northern states were bound together by improved transportation and a high rate of economic growth based on both commercial farming and industrial innovation
oManufacturing expanding rapidly
oIndustry producing a wide range of goods and consumer products
oLarger majority of northerners involved in agriculture (commercial farming)
Majority of agriculture done in the Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota)
Large grain crops of corn and wheat were very profitable
Used newly invented steel plows and mechanical reapers which meant farms were more efficient and they could plant on more land at one time
Only needed a few supplemental workers during the harvest
oVery large population to fill the jobs of the expanding North
High birthrate
Immigration of Irish and German people
•The Southern States were defined in economic, political and social terms as a distinct region including those states who permitted slavery
oAgriculture was the foundation of the Southern economy
Tobacco, rice, and sugar cane were lucrative cash crops
Chief economic activity was the production and sale of cotton (called King Cotton)
•Primarily grown in South Carolina and Georgia
•When the industry began to expand, manufacturing moved into Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas
•Cotton was 2/3 of all US exports in the 1850’s
oSmall factories only producing 15 percent of the countries goods
oSouthern wealth defined by the amount of land and slaves owned and as Southern economy expanded, so did slavery
1800-1 million slaves
1860-4 million slaves
Slaves were 75 percent of the South’s population
Conflict over New Territories
•Territories gained in the Mexican War became the focus of the Union because of the issue of Slavery
•The Wilmot Proviso heightened tensions between the North and the South
oExcluded slavery and involuntary servitude in the new territories which included California, Utah and New Mexico

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