TheCivil War was fundamentally about Slavery
Theemergence of the American civil war in 1861 was a result of a numberof factors that were fundamentally associated with the existence ofslavery. As a result of slavery, the American society and states weredisintegrated on the slavery subject, which led to the civil war(Velt, Storm on the Horizon). Slavery sparked debates over civilrights that led to diverse views from different factions of theAmerican society, with some supporting slavery and others seekingabolition (Velt, Fighting Slavery). From this perspective, thediscussion will focus on the pieces of evidence that point outslavery as the fundamental factor behind the Civil War from thebeginning. This way, the discussion will explore the abolitionmovement, racism and the southern economy as the evidences linkingslavery with the civil war.
Theabolition movement contributed to the emergence of the civil warbecause of the anti-slavery sentiments that varied between thesoutherners and the northerners (Velt, Storm on the Horizon). Theslavery period marked great violation of the human rights, especiallywomen as portrayed by Fredrick Douglass (Douglass, 136). Theviolation opened a door for people to give views on the subject whichwere different. Slavery involved white masters who had full ownershipover the slaves and could even sell them like in the case of OctaveJohnson (Johnson 337). On the other hand, the northerners viewedslavery differently from the southerners, who were the antagonists ofthe civil war. While southerners strongly defended slavery, somenortherners opposed slavery and were sympathetic (Velt, Storm on theHorizon). For instance, some abolitionist even invented alphabetmethods of teaching their children the evils of slavery (TheAbolitionist Alphabet 1). This created a sense of rebellion againstthe states and societies that promoted the use of slavery in theeconomic development of American society.
Theabolitionist movement was alive because of the need to end slaveryand promote free labor in the United States, especially in cottonfarms (Velt, Fighting Slavery). At the height of slavery in the 1860,the United States, especially the southern part was marked by anincrease in the number of slaves used to farm in cotton farms andincreases the production of the cotton (Velt, Fighting Slavery).
Despitethe efforts of Abraham Lincoln to reduce slavery and prohibitimportation of slaves, the population of slaves still increased(Velt, Introducing Mr. Lincoln). This was the need why after thecivil war, friendly relations had to be reestablished back in 1865(Cooley284). The existence of slavery at the time and need for abolitionlinks with the civil war, as the war started in 1861, just at thetime when the number of slaves working on cotton farms had increasedto significant numbers in 1860 (Velt, Fighting Slavery).
Thenegative human impacts of slavery, coupled with the need forabolition created a political debate between the abolitionists andthose rooting for slavery. This mostly existed between thenortherners and the southerners, who had different views aboutslavery, and abolition. On one hand, the southerners stronglydefended slavery by arguing that it was a necessary good for theireconomy (Velt, Fighting Slavery). At the same time, the southernwhites feared the slaves as they thought they could rebel because ofthe atrocities committed to them. This is because they were unkind toslaves, through whipping and inhuman treatment despite thepaternalism practices by some slave owners (Velt, Fighting Slavery).
Thenortherners therefore sought to dominate the states that wereseemingly driven by the need to develop their economies throughslavery. These states had the highest number of slaves, and were theones that formed the confederacy a political outfit that was notenthusiastic about the politics of Abraham Lincoln. In fact, thewhole confederate states were totally in disagreement with thefederal government (Velt, The Plunge into War). Therefore, during theinauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the confederate states sought topursue their own political interests as they saw a threat from thefederal governments (Velt, Introducing Mr. Lincoln). This is becausethey saw the federation as a threat to their economy an economy thatis powered by slavery. This was at the time when it was clear thatAbraham Lincoln was not supporting the expansion of slavery in theUnited States (Velt, Introducing Mr. Lincoln).
Atthe same time, racism became evidence that slavery was thefundamental cause of the civil war. Racism was propagated by theconcept of the white supremacy that existed during the slavery periodand in the nineteenth century. The white men thought they weresupreme and that black people were made to work for the whites (Velt,Fighting Slavery). While the white masters sought total control overthe region, the slaves and the anti-slavery whites sought to repelthe increasing dominance of the whites.
Racismwas not just felt on the white supremacy over the blacks and slaves,but also on the antagonism between the northerners and thesoutherners. The northerners were seeking to exert their supremacyover the southerners despite all of them being whites (Velt, Storm onthe Horizon). This is because the northern whites were afraid thatthe southern states would be full of slaves, and dominate thesouthern economies. So they viewed the southern states as slavestates, even if the whites were the masters (Velt, Fighting Slavery).This fueled the antagonism between the two factions, leading to thecivil war therefore, an evidence of slavery as a fundamental factorin the civil war.
Thesouthern economy is also evidence that slavery was a fundamentalfactor of the civil war. According to Coates(1), commerce was initially what linked the industrialist northernersand the agriculturalist southerners. Trade and interaction betweenstates in America was facilitated by the development ofinfrastructure, such as roads and railway (Velt, Choosing ManifestDestiny). However, the civil war between the southern states and thenorthern states arose from the desire by the southern confederates tosecede from the federation. The desire by the confederates to secedewas as a result of the economic strength they got fromindustrialization and farming that was powered by slaves (Coates 1).This shows that if they were not relying on their economies, cottonfarms, their slaves and industries, they could not get the strengthof desire for secession which eventually caused the civil war in1861.
Dueto the existence of labor of the slaves, and the growth of theeconomy of cotton farming, the southerners joined to form theconfederates to rally people against the federal government. Thefocus of the southern states that formed the confederacy was more onthe defense of the economic benefits of the slaves in farms (Bandof Brothers 83).The economy of the confederate states was powered by the slaves, whoworked on the farms (Velt, Fighting Slavery). This gave theconfederate states the strength to fight for the maintenance ofslavery, and promotion of slavery as the best thing for theireconomies.
Theexistence of slavery became the most fundamental factor that led tothe emergence of the civil war. Due to slavery, racism andabolitionist movements developed and took shape in the form ofantagonism between the northern states and the southern states. Theeconomies of the southern states were also powered by slavery as theywere anchored on farming. The different views about slaves andslavery sparked more differences between the federation and theconfederates. These factors offer evidence that from the beginning,slavery the fundamental factor behind the Civil War.
Bandof Brothers, chapter 6, Web, Accessed, August 14, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/files/2013/06/A-Band-of-Brothers.pdf>Coates,Ta-Nehisi. WhatThis Cruel War Was Over,Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/what-this-cruel-war-was-over/396482>
Cooley,Denis. Commisionerof Indian Affairs Denis Cooley on the consequences of the civil war,1865,Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/files/2013/04/Commissioner-of-Indian-Affairs.pdf>
Douglass,Fredrick. FredrickDouglass Describes Separation and sexual abuse, 1845,Web,Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/files/2013/04/Frederick-Douglass.pdf>
Johnson,Octave. Corporal Octave Johnson, a union soldier, describes hisescape from slavery during the war, 1864. Web, Accessed, August 14,2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/files/2013/04/Octave-Johnsons-Escape-from-Slavery.pdf>
TheAbolitionist Alphabet,Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/the-abolitionist-alphabet>
Velt,Storm on the Horizon, Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/avl-video/storm-on-the-horizon>
Velt,The Plunge into War, Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/avl-video/the-plunge-into-war>
Velt,Fighting Slavery, Web, Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/avl-video/fighting-slavery>
Velt,ChoosingManifest Destiny, Web,Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/avl-video/choosing-manifest-destiny>
Velt,IntroducingMr. Lincoln, Web,Accessed, August 10, 2015,<http://history.msu.edu/hst202/avl-video/introducing-mr-lincoln>