Was the Civil War inevitable? Use specific evidence to support your argument.

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Interesting question! History has shown that there are always two opposing sides to an argument, so the answer is a difficult one. Your response will center on your own conclusions about the inevitability of the Civil War. In my answer, I will present arguments for and against the inevitability of...

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Interesting question! History has shown that there are always two opposing sides to an argument, so the answer is a difficult one. Your response will center on your own conclusions about the inevitability of the Civil War. In my answer, I will present arguments for and against the inevitability of the Civil War.

If this is an essay question, my best advice is to begin by briefly outlining the causes of the war. Then, I would discuss questions about the inevitability of the war.

Yes, the war was inevitable:

1.) Many historians maintain that the Civil War (1861–1865) was about slavery. They argue that war was the only way to settle the discrepancy between two opposing social/labor systems. During the nineteenth century, the North was becoming more industrialized. In fact, the textile mills in New England formed the heart of the American industrial revolution.

Soon, Northern ingenuity and technology buoyed the rise of the oil, steel, and electricity industries. In contrast, the South held on to its agrarian economy and provided the raw materials that facilitated industrialization in the North. The South's economy was powered by slavery. Slaves were the backbone of the Southern economic machine.

The conflict that gave rise to the Civil War centered on the discrepancy between Northern and Southern conceptions of progress. The North equated industrial progress with capitalism. Meanwhile, the South considered its slave-based agrarian economy a form of capitalism as well. War, therefore, was inevitable, as these two conceptions of capitalism were diametrically opposed to each other. Neither the South nor the North saw any possibility of compromise.

2.) The riots and rebellions spearheaded by anti-abolitionists, such as John Brown, led to widespread panic and social destabilization. You can read all about John Brown's raids in Pottawatomie Creek and Harpers Ferry at the link below.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and his supporters raided the United States Army arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The group's plan was to begin a guerrilla war to push back against slavery. For his part, Brown hoped that his actions would inspire hundreds of thousands of slaves to rise up in defense of their cause.

Why did John Brown's actions strike such fear in America's leaders? The answer is that John Brown set an example for vigilante actions among the populace.

This discomfited both Northern and Southern legislators. For the Northerners, Brown's actions painted Northern capitalists and abolitionists as extremists. The Northerners feared that this could cost them future elections. Meanwhile, the Southerners feared that white abolitionists like Brown would inspire other whites to take up the anti-slavery mantle. They also feared that, if they gave their slaves freedom, these same slaves would turn on them. Here, you may decide to mention Nat Turner and his slave rebellions. So, both Northerners and Southerners feared the loss of their power.

For Brown, the cause was personal. The Southern legislators sidelined anyone who was an abolitionist. Abolitionists, in effect, had no voice in the South. So, the war could be seen as inevitable, because both Southern and Northern leaders were invested in quelling the actions of black and white abolitionists, such as John Brown and Nat Turner.

Of course, the above are only two arguments for the inevitability of the Civil War. Now, let's move on to arguments that the war was not inevitable.

No, the war was not inevitable:

1.) Other historians maintain that war was never inevitable and that much could have been done to prevent one. In fact, they present several reasons for their convictions. You can read about them from the link below.

For example, President Buchanan opted for a compromise. If his actions had been supported, war could have been averted. Although many saw President Buchanan's actions in calling for a convention as an act of political compromise, it must be mentioned that the president was no supporter of slavery. In fact, he was personally opposed to it. However, he supported above all else two fundamental principles: the preservation of the Union and state jurisdiction over domestic concerns.

In 1847, Buchanan argued for the extension of the Missouri Line (under the Missouri Compromise). He maintained that doing so would preserve both the Union and the right of individual states to decide the slavery question. Essentially, Buchanan opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and he also opposed secession. Buchanan maintained that the Union could not sustain a civil war and prevail. If his voice had been heeded, there might have been no Civil War.

2.) Senator Stephen Douglas failed to become president of the United States. Because of John Brown's raids, Stephen Douglas (a Democrat) could not prevail against the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln. Had Douglas prevailed, a Democrat would have been in office, thus soothing the fears of Southern Democrats about the abolition of slavery. By extension, the Civil War could have been prevented. For more about this, please refer to the links below.

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