The American Civil War was a battle between the United States and the Confederate States of America. During the conflict, the United States was referred to as the North, and the Confederate states were referred to as the South. Abraham Lincoln served as President of the United States of America, and Jefferson Davis served as President of the South. At the end of the battle, 620,000 soldiers had died, and the damage in the South was immense (Nps.gov. n.d). What was the root of all this carnage? The Civil War was sparked by a significant divide between the South and the North over various political and economic reasons. The most crucial problems for the North and the South were those of the state’s rights and slavery. Thus, it is essential to understand how American Civil War evolved to maintain Union and to an attempt to end slavery.
The first reason which led to civil war was disagreement between the North and South north regarding the power of the federal government and state government. The South believed that the federal government should be kept to a bare minimum while granting the states additional power regarding state rights. This debate had been raging between politicians from the South and those from the North who believed that more authority should be concentrated at the federal level. The Southern states were adamant that they were not subject to the dictates of the federal government and that they may at any time choose to secede from the Union (Nps.gov. n.d). Their belief was primarily based on their interpretation of the Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution begins with the words We the people of the United States. This paragraph, along with other passages in the Constitution, was the one in which the interpretations of the North and the South varied (Finkelman, 17). In the South, the only option to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare was to devolve authority to the states. The Southern states feared that they would be disadvantaged since the more populous Northern states had radically different requirements as a people. The North was more industrial, and they imported products, while the South was more agricultural and exported commodities. Because they perceived themselves to be at a disadvantage, they promptly erected defenses against the North’s assault on their rights as sovereign states. When the North chose Abraham Lincoln as its president, the South reacted. The secession of the South was unavoidable.
The second reason the civil war evolved to end slavery is because of the election of President Lincoln, who was against slavery. When President Lincoln was elected, the Southern states wished to secede because of his firm belief in the moral evil of slavery. Since the founding of the United States, the Southern states had been pressured by their northern counterparts to abolish slavery. This was impossible since slavery was such an integral element of the prosperity of the South. The agriculture of the South was primarily reliant on the usage of slavery since they required enslaved people to pick crops such as cotton (Nps.gov. n.d). When the newly elected president ran a campaign that fiercely opposed the use and spread of slavery in the United States, the southern states were outraged. Relations between the South and the North have only deteriorated more due to the presidential election. The fight over slavery had been simmering before Lincoln’s election in 1860 (Finkelman, 14). When the South recognized that Lincoln had been elected, the tensions between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters reached a boiling point. On December 20, 1860, the state of South Carolina declared its intention to secede from the Union, prompting other states to follow suit.
Another reason why the civil war prompted the end of slavery was the instance when the Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. This marked the beginning of a brand-new period in the history of the United States (Finkelman, 15). A protracted and deadly battle erupted due to the combined issues of state rights and slavery. In the end, the South surrendered, signing the peace treaty at the Appomattox Courthouse in 1865. At the end of the war, the South’s most prized aspects of its economy and governance were taken away (Nps.gov. n.d). The Southern states that had seceded were allowed to rejoin the Union as long as slavery was abolished and their powers as states were restricted. They rejoined the rest of the states under the protection of a more powerful central authority.
Finally, it should be noted that the Civil War was initially conceived as a war to maintain the Union. Slavery, on the other hand, was a part of it from the outset. Following a series of events, the conflict evolved into a campaign to abolish slavery. Even though the war was initially a limited conflict aimed to maintain the Union, it had other dimensions, one of which was slavery. In the first instance, factions located in both the North and South backed the opposing side. The southern states supported slavery, and they banded together to maintain it against all opposition. The northern states opposed slavery. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president was a vote for preserving the Union while also pushing for the abolition of slavery, which he was successful in accomplishing.
Finkelman, Paul. “Slavery, the Constitution, and the Origins of the Civil War.” OAH Magazine of History 25.2 (2011): 14-18.
Nps.gov. “Slavery: Causes and Catalyst of The Civil War”. Nps.Gov, 2022, https://www.nps.gov/cuga/learn/historyculture/upload/SLAVERY-BROCHURE.pdf.