The Civil War was one of the most relevant occurrences in the history of the United States. It was the event which helped shape the United States as the nation that it is at present. The American Civil War was regarded as a failed war for Southern independence, and this description is indeed apt. The South sought to withdraw from the Union because of disagreement over the issue of slavery. It is important to note that while slavery was the key reason why the Southern states seceded, there are other factors to consider in the separation of the South and the North.
While the issue of slavery divided the nation into two during the Civil War, the conflict between the North and South was actually rooted in social, economic and political differences. Slavery was the main reason why the Civil War occurred. The North and the South did not agree on the issue, and the latter was forced to secede (Perry, 1989). However, the conflict between the North and South did not begin with slavery. The conflict was grounded on the differences between the two sections. First, there were the social and economic differences.
In the 19th century, two different kinds of societies existed in the United States (Catton, 2004). On one hand, the North was an industrial society which became the country’s financial and commercial center (Gallagher, 2001). The labor force of the North consisted mostly of immigrants, who have moved to the cities. On the other hand, the South was an agricultural region; it was home to the nation’s most fertile farmlands (Perry, 1989). The labor force of the South consisted of slaves, who provided agricultural manpower (Gallagher, 2001).
This was the reason why the institution of slavery was crucial in the South. Slavery defined the prosperity of the South and its abolition would result in the economic collapse (Catton, 2004). The different social and economic natures of the North and South placed them on opposite sides of the slavery argument. While the North was eager for the abolition of slavery, the South sought to preserve it for their economic survival. The social and economic differences between the North and South paved the way for political differences to arise.
Due to its industrial nature, the North quickly developed and expanded; the region’s dynamic character required protection and assistance from the Federal government (Catton, 2004). In contrast, the South remained constant. The agricultural region remained static and did not need the interference of the Federal government in their affairs. This situation led to the issue of states’ rights. The South pushed for states’ rights to protect its interests. The southerners believed that if citizens thought that a law passed in Congress was unconstitutional, the state could modify the said law.
Northerners disagreed with this argument, stating that the Union would weaken if every state was given the power to decide the constitutionality of laws (Perry, 1989). The problem of population also exacerbated the political difference. The North was superior to the South in terms of population (Gallagher, 2001). Because of this advantage, the North wanted to become more dominant in government. The South did not want to be overshadowed by its Northern counterpart; they knew that if the North acquired more influence in Congress, they could easily pass laws which could threaten Southern interests, especially slavery.
Meanwhile, it was also a political development which finally caused the South to push for their independence from the Union. The Republican Party was created with the sole objective of abolishing slavery (Perry, 1989). With the victory of Republican Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential elections, the South knew they had to secede to preserve slavery. Eventually, this led to the Civil War (Perry, 1989). The American Civil War did not happen simply because of slavery. While slavery caused the South to withdraw from the Union, it was not the root of the problem.
Slavery was not the only factor to be considered in the war. It was the differences inherent in the two sections of America which provided the basis for the armed conflict to occur. The American Civil War occurred due to the underlying conflict caused by social, economic and political differences between the North and South. References Catton, B. (2004). The Civil War. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Gallagher, G. (2001). The American Civil War: The war in the East 1861- May 1863. Maryland: Osprey Publishing. Perry, M. (1989). A History of the World. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin.