Did Slavery Cause the Civil War

The American Civil War refers to the 1861 to 1865 war involving the Union states and the Confederacy states; these two sides of the War were from the United States. Various causes that have been blamed on the war; however, there is a general agreement that slavery played a significant role in contributing to the war. Slavery was a significant source of labor in the United States since 1619; however, the American Revolution resulted in a significant number of the Northern States abandoning the practice. Nonetheless, slavery continued to in the Southern States, which were mainly plantation based. Prior to the Civil War, there were various sectional conflicts that arose between the two sides; the conflicts mainly revolved around the slave issue. Thus, the Civil War can be blamed on the various slave related issues such as the Constitutional Conventional of 1787, the Compromises of 1820 and 1850, and the anti-slavery suppression rules. Therefore, Civil War can be blamed in slavery.

In the onset of the Civil War, eleven southern states announced their withdrawal from the United States and went ahead to form “the Confederacy.” The confederacy states supported the institution of slavery to provide labor in their labor-intensive plantation economy. Additionally, the Confederacy states ganged up to fight against the Union. The Union was comprised of the Northern States, which had abolished slavery. It received the back up of five slave states, which were referred to as Border States. Among the slave states that joined the Union included Delaware, which was firmly in support of the Union. However, Maryland Kentucky, and Missouri had problems resolving whether to support the Confederacy or the Union (Nevins 449).

Lincoln undertook various measures to gain the support of Maryland; he banned the writ habeas corpus and jailed the leaders who supported the Confederacy. By the fall of the elections, Maryland had been returned to the Union, restoring the Unionist majority in the state. Kentucky harbored both the Union and Confederacy loyalists. The state maintained its neutrality until September 3, 1861 when the Confederacy forces captured various towns. The Union forces moved to Paducah; Kentucky remained a Union’s state for the majority of the pre-war period. However, it joined the Confederacy after the War (Nevins 449).

The Confederacy and the Union conflicts were also depicted at the personal level. Leaders took different stands on the issue of slavery, often resulting into conflicts. Robert E. Lee’s decision to join the Confederacy was a good example of the agonizing choices that faced many Americans in 1861. Lee was a son of a Revolutionary War hero; he had fought in the Mexican War, and served in the United States army for 30 years. Upon the attack of Fort Sumter, Lee was offered an opportunity to take command of the Union forces. Lee refused the offer citing that he could not go against his country, Virginia. He failed to see the benefits of succession; he resigned from commission and retreated to his estate. Later, Lee accepted the offer to command the Virginia forces, and later the Confederacy military forces (Nevins 449). Additionally, James B. Griffin represents represent the Southerners who joined the War to defend their rights of slavery and to curtail the Northern subjugation over the South (McArthur). Griffin did not state out rightly that he fought for the preservation of slavery. However, this fact is evident since he fought to maintain his way of life; slavery was a way of life for the Southerners.    

On the other side of the conflict, a significant number of Northerners made huge sacrifices to remain loyal to the Union. They undertook various actions that would ensure that they remained loyal to the Union’s campaign against slavery. The Union soldiers perceived their counterparts fighting for the Confederacy forces as having gone astray; Elisha Hunt Rhodes prayed for grace to continue serving Frederick Miller and his country faithfully (Rhodes). Though some people left their native areas once the fighting commenced; a significant number of others remained in the South and supported the Union’s war efforts. In all the Confederacy states with the exception of South Carolina, brigades were organized to fight for the Union against the Confederacy. Immigrants from Ireland and Germany formed the bulk of the Southern loyalists; they distasted slavery and the planter elites. Thus, it can be argued that the main reason for the Southern loyalist efforts against the Confederacy was strongly rooted on the issue of slavery.

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