How should I go about answering this question about sectionalism and the Civil War?This is an assignment for AP U.S. History.  It is Discuss how sectionalism was a fundamental cause of the Civil...

How should I go about answering this question about sectionalism and the Civil War?

This is an assignment for AP U.S. History.  It is

Discuss how sectionalism was a fundamental cause of the Civil War.

I don't know if I should give specific events or just use generalities for why it lead to civil war? I just don't know!

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think what your teacher is probably hoping you will do is to discuss the extent to which sectionalism (defined as having a greater loyalty to your region than to the country), rather than something else like slavery, was a cause of the war.  So if I were writing this essay, I'd be looking to show how the war came about because of each side's emotional attachement to its region.  I would try to show that the tensions were more about identity and emotion than about actual issues.  I might bring out, for example, the idea that Lincoln's election was not actually going to reduce the states' right to slavery but the South chose to see it that way, largely because they saw Lincoln's election as an affront to them.

So, I would be trying to show that it was not really the details of the issues that caused the war.  Instead, I would try to show that it was the two sides' emotions that were the cause.  (Or, if you want, argue the opposite.  When I teach AP I like it when people try to go against the premise of the question as it shows independent thought.)

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