What Initiated the American Civil War?


One of the most common misconceptions in today’s world is that the Confederacy was founded on racism. The people who believe this come to this conclusion by saying that the war was about slavery, which is half true, and half wrong. They are correct in saying that slavery is the largest reason for the secession, but they don’t give any context as to why it’s such a big reason, or at least none other than “they were racists who wanted slaves.” So in this essay, I plan to first explain the causes of the secession and explain why they are justified. Then I will explain the causes of the war itself.

Causes of Secession:


The first, and largest, reason that the secession occurred is slavery. Many confederate sympathizers will deny the role that slavery played in the war, but by doing so they are altering history to fit their narrative. Many people will say that the secession occurred absolutely because of states rights, but they don’t explain what state rights were being violated. The fact of the matter is that the states were scared of being denied the right to slavery. However just because slavery was a major issue in the secession does not mean the secession was unjustifiable, because there is a reason why slavery was such a forefront issue. Slavery was not just a helpful thing for many people in the south, it was their livelihood. Many people wealth was totally dependent on slavery, and by abolishing slavery it would ruin them. However, this does not mean that I wouldn’t have supported abolishing slavery, just I would not have supported the northern method of abolishing slavery. The Republicans and the northern states wanted to abolish slavery overnight, which is ridiculous. If they had attempted to phase slavery out of society, like it had been phased out of the north, they may have avoided the whole conflict. The reason that attempting to abolish slavery overnight is such a stupid thing to do is that, like I said, slavery was many people’s livelihoods, and you cannot expect to take away someone’s livelihood without retaliation. Though their livelihood was immoral, the retaliation itself was justified. For example, if you go to a farm and take away all a farmer’s equipment he will retaliate, and is that retaliation not justified? If the north had attempted to phase slavery out of society most likely there would have been no retaliation at all, or at least nothing as large as a full-blown civil war. To summarize, slavery was one of the biggest reasons for the secession of the south, however, it’s because the north was attempted to abolish the southerner’s livelihood, and so the southerners retaliation is surely justified.

States’ Rights:

Another major reason for the secession was the fear that the southern states would lose many of their rights. The reason for this fear was the major population differences between the north and the south. The north held way more people than the south and thus the north held more seats in the House of Representatives. This meant that the south would eventually have no say in the house at all, as the population gap was continually growing, and they also would likely never be able to elect a president that represented them. This meant that there were two major parts of our government where they would have barely any say at all, and this also meant that the north could run all over the south if it pleased. An example of this happening is the Tariffs of Abomination. These tariffs were set in place to help American industry by removing the British competition, and these tariffs majorly helped the northern factories. The problem with these tariffs is that they had majorly negative effects on the southern economy. These tariffs raised the cost of living in the south, and also made manufactured goods much more expensive for southerners. These tariffs were passed even though there was widespread southern disagreement with them, but because the north had more people, the southern disagreement had almost no effect. This fear of losing their voice in all government matters is a major reason for their secession.

Cultural Differences:

This is definitely one of the lesser reasons for secession, but it is a reason nonetheless. The north and the south had major culture differences. The reason for these cultural differences was mostly because of how different the economies were. The southern economy was based around agriculture, and living in a rural setting is very different than being raised in an urban setting. The northern economy was based around the industry, and because of this many people lived in big cities near factories. As I said, being raised in rural areas is very different than being raised in an urban area and because the people tended to be raised so differently, they had major differences in their culture. This means that there was no real sense of unity in the country, and so this was definitely one of the reasons for the secession, just not a large reason compared to the other two.

The Cause of the War:

Northern Aggression:

Many people consider the Civil War as a war started by the South because the south fired the first shots at Fort Sumter, however, this only gives a part of what actually happened. Fort Sumter is located in South Carolina, thus it was in Confederate land, so naturally, the south would want to consolidate their lands and claim that fort. Imagine having a Chinese fort in the United States, would you not be angry? Also, the south actually attempted to negotiate with the north for the fort, but they were promptly denied. This means that even though the south fired the first shots, the north refusing negotiation is what started the war. Jefferson Davis, the confederate president, actually wanted to keep the peace and avoid war with the Union.

Added Point:

Lincoln was Awful:

Lincoln is likely one of the worst presidents to serve, as his only achievement is ending the war. However, he’s the reason the war lasted so long and cost so many lives. His incompetence at picking generals lengthened the war much longer than it should have happened. The north had a considerable amount more troops than the south and so the war should have been easy, but Lincoln went through multiple generals that were ineffective before he finally got to Ulysses S. Grant. This period of time when he was looking for generals cost many lives. Lincoln also suspended the habeas corpus during the war or the right to a fair trial, and though this may have been constitutional, it was an awful thing for him to do. By doing this it gave the government the power to arrest someone at will, and there were no fair trials to stop them. This is tyrannical, and it’s definitely one of the worst things he did. The only good thing that Lincoln did was during the Reconstruction, he was softer on the Confederates than most of the Republicans wanted him to be, and by being soft he helped many southerners and he also helped relations with the rebels.


In conclusion, though the confederacy did have the immoral institution of slavery, their reasons for secession and for war were absolutely justified, and it’s a shame to me that the north won the war whenever they were unjustifiable.


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