Essay on Civil War as a Struggle Between Two Antagonistic Economic Systems

Published: 2021-08-15
1209 words
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Vanderbilt University
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Research paper
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Slavery and its eventual westward mobility, Indians, and balance of power between the executive and the legislative branches of government have always been emotive issues in the U.S. As a young nation; the United States did not classify citizens along any class system. Most Americans identified themselves as the middle class. Over time, the ordinary person gained the right to vote, without the reference to whether they were landowners. They could nominate candidates to office, and reward the politicians that represented the common interests. The 1820s passed as a time of transition and transformation showing concern for issues such as farming and mechanic advancement, and human equality principles. The Americans are living in the country that experienced material prosperity and expansive growth technological advances, infrastructural improvements, and manufacturing innovations. These were financed by proceeds gotten from the sale of sizeable Indian land. The dramatic increase in money supply saw shifts in government policies. The changes warranted Americans to chase opportunities in flourishing cities and the frontiers. The United States had become a nation of strivers responding to demands of capitalism. Anyone could acquire credit with few questions asked. (Rothman, Joshua D). The prosperity was however at the cost of destroying Indian nations, and burgeoning slave ownership (Adams, Sean P). Theoretically, alongside other countries, Congress had abolished slavery. The Civil War that would follow later between the South and the North had little to do with a struggle between two opposing economic systems.

There are many complexities around why the Southern states wanted to leave. Other speculations surround reasons why the north could not let go. All of these issues in one-way point at the peculiar institution- black slavery. In this paper, the discourse will try to divert attention from the slave trade but not without placing it at the center of the civil war conflict. Way before the 1820s when slavery marked the beginning of disagreement between the north and the south, almost all British colonies had black slaves. Slavery, therefore, had not always been seen as a cause of rifts between the south and the north. It sanctioned by the white population alike. Most of the vocal anti-slavery crusaders later had been slaveholders themselves.

The revolution was responsible for a dislocated slavery. Governors of some states freed slaves who agreed to fight against the colonists. More states would apply similar approaches. As a result, at independence, South Carolina lost almost a third of it slave majority to flight and migration. The spirit of liberation also challenged the white population to rally against slavery, and soon anti-slavery organizations were all over. Setting slaves free continued with states offered freedom to slaves who joined the military.

By 1783 states above the Mason-Dixon line already had their constitutions, legislative house of representatives, and courts had already started the abolition, gradual emancipation, and pronouncements that declared slavery inconsistent with the declaration of rights. While Congress abolished slave trade on its in1808, the invention of the cotton gin earlier had put American slavery on an economic resurgence. The invention helped push slavery past it geographical limit. Settlers plantation agriculture saw the U.S slave population triple by 1820 in the American south.

Slavery had more economic importance in the south. This fact has been used countless times to prove the Civil War was a result of economic sabotage by the North slave trade abolitionists in the southern states. The fact that slavery had economic importance did not stop many of the states to ban the importation of slaves. Societies operating in the south also thrived and continued appealing to slave masters to free their slaves and disregard any form of human bondage. However, later in the making of the constitution, it did not acknowledge slavery existed. The document only hinted to that Congress should delegitimise the Atlantic slave trade. Hummel argues that it also gave the states of the lower South plenty of time to replenish their diminished slave numbers (11). As a way to exploit this window period, more salves than ever before were imported.

Slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War is unlikely. The north may have outvoted the southern states in the lower house of Congress, but the Senate maintained the two sides. However, at around this time, Missouri put up a bid to be admitted to the union. The petition was met with a list of demands that would result in gradual emancipation. The free-state majority supported the plan. Nothern politicians worried little about the additional influence the souths interests would attract. Missouri was later admitted as a slave state throw the powerful speaker of the house, a Kentucky, slave master. Southerners focused on the growth of their peculiar institution. The north was not united against slavery. Controversy brewed over state rights and later, South Carolina was militantly resisting national power, and it was not about slavery but a tariff. A tariff sanctioned by the constitution for revenue purposes (Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers). The prolonged periods of open defiance on issues by the southern states was the cause of te civil war.

Later, the reconstruction plans proved the civil war had no not tied to economic reasons. For instance, Lincoln Reconstruction Plan focused on forgiveness. The plan offered to pardon all confederates, and protect their property. His blueprint had the ten-percent plan specifying that southern states readmission into the union if ten percent of the voters swore an oath of allegiance to the Union, revised state constitutions and established new governments. His assassination-paved way for the Johnson Reconstruction Plan also called the president reconstruction. The plan involved returning confiscated properties to white to southerners. Additionally, he issued pardons to senior confederate officers and government officials, something starkly opposed to Lincolns plan. Unlike his predecessors plan to have southern voters elected delegates to draft their new constitutions, Johnson appointed governors to supervise the process. Furthermore, he agreed to readmit the states if they abolished the slave trade. Finally, a reactionary Congressional Reconstruction Plan challenge to the presidential reconstruction plan involving stricter southern states readmission requirements ("Sparknotes: Reconstruction (18651877): Lincolns Ten-Percent Plan: 18631865"). None of these plans addresses economic wrongs done to the southern states to warrant a civil war. Lincoln and Johnson's plans were more of political maneuvers only after a quick end to the war. They wanted the reconstruction done with fast. As such, the congressional reconstruction was a better plan to apply. Radical Republicans are mainly winning the elections, and a further support of their ideology by moderate Republican allies signified the will of the American people. Though the plan was reactionary in nature, it presented the best chance of a weighted plan that could adequately address all issues regarding southern states readmission.

In conclusion, so many places slavery at the center of the American civil war. The institution only seems to provide faults for much deeper issues like the tariffs or just a show of might between the northern politicians and the south that went wrong horribly.

Cited Work

Adams, Sean P. A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson. New York, Blackwell Pub., 2013,

Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers. Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.

Rothman, Joshua D. Flush Times, and Fever Dreams. Athens, University Of Georgia Press, 2012,

"SparkNotes: Reconstruction (18651877): Lincolns Ten-Percent Plan: 18631865." Sparknotes.Com,

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