Volume V, No. 3, Spring 1978


by Daniel Hough

The Civil War. A bloody climax to several centuries of racial inequality and exploitation and the summation of several decades of separation between North and South. It was a war unequalled in context by any other American war, because the war often divided brother against brother, father against son.

The roots of the Civil War were economic in nature, international in scope. Fertile southern states promised a bounty of agricultural goods, limited only by the need for human and animal muscle for cultivation. Thus, the growth of the South would not have occurred without slavery. For the North, industry provided the economy. Ideally, the South fed the North, and the North supplied machinery to the South.

Far removed from slavery in effect, the North abolished slavery as a moral and physical evil. Still, the two factions coexisted, each supplying what the other lacked.

Political separation grew as the North pushed for total abolition. Since Congress made the laws, a majority of slave or free states could rule Congress and thus the country. Each side pushed for new states to follow their respective mold, and bitter arguments and resentment ensued. Several times the arguments neared the breaking point, but the clash was always avoided by negotiations and compromises.

At least until Kansas. The fight over Kansas was the apex/of the pre-war confrontations. Vicious fighting occurred between pro- and anti-slavery residents in Kansas and Missouri. Kansas became a free state, but only after the war began.

Finally in 1861, the powder keg exploded. Lincoln's election triggered the secession of the South, and the War Between the States became a reality.


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