What caused the Civil War?I need a few specific examples but chronology that led to the Civil War

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One historian wrote that the seeds of the American Civil War were planted in the settlements of Jamestown and Plymouth, two and a half centuries earlier. (It might be worthwhile for you to look up that quote...)  From the very beginning of English colonization in North America, two different sets of colonists, with different ideologies, religious conviction, social standing, and educational convictions established different colonies, and these, from the very start, separated along the geographical North and South.  The economies of both areas were different, and over time manifested Northern industry and Southern agriculture.  Even founding the United States in 1776 brought these two divergent areas in conflict (If you haven't already, see the musical "1776" which shows how close the US came to not declaring independence from Britain because of political divisions between North and South) and was only partially resolved by compromise.  Throughout the 19th century, this pattern of compromise maintained the US as a single country; when compromise finally failed in the 1860's war was the inevitable result.

shaddox5 | Student

The causes of the American Civil War are many and they are complex in nature. It can be argued the forces leading to war were set in motion in Colonial America.  Slavery existed in all of the early American colonies, and climate and topography were as much a friend to abolition as any moral authority or compass.

As it became apparent that slavery was not of economic value in the colder, less fertile areas of the colonies, slavery began to lose its foothold.  This resulted in the development of two distinct regions, one where the institution of slavery was used to promote financial gain for a select group of wealthy planters, the other a non slave holding region that focused on small farms and manufacturing.

The Founding Fathers did not significantly address the "peculiar institution" at the Constitutional Convention, as they needed southern approval to achieve creation of the new government.  As a result, slavery continued to be a blight on the new nation.  

During the 1800's, the south became a chief producer of raw materials that were obtained by the use of the forced labor of approximately 4 million slaves. These raw goods were then sent to the north and turned into manufactured goods to be sold back to the south.  High taxes on theses manufactured goods, but not on raw products, left the south at a distinct disadvantage economically compared to the north.

As the years wore on, animosity created by the disproportionate relationship in taxes between the two regions began to boil over.  The fact that much of the revenue generated by taxes on southern products was used to build northern infrastructure such as railroads were especially difficult to take.

By the 1850's, the Republican Party had been born and with it the promise of stopping the spread of slavery to the western territories recently obtained through the war with Mexico.  For the deep south this was a direct threat to their economic livelihoods.  This fear, coupled with the economics of the day, led to radical actions on the part of eleven southern states.

On December 20, 1860, shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded from the United States of America and soon a procession of southern states would follow to form the Confederate States of America.

The Civil War was fought for economic, social and political reasons.  Abraham Lincoln was a master politician.  The Emancipation Proclamation narrowed the focus of the war to the social evil of slavery and that narrative has survived through the years as the main cause of the war.  There is no doubt slavery and things indirectly related to the institution such as high taxes on raw products led to problems in the US throughout its early years as a nation. Problems that touched all aspects of life and would lead to over 600,000 men losing their lives to settle the issue once and for all.


krishna-agrawala | Student

Experts have advanced many causes for the American Civil war between the Southern and Northern states. These causes relate to basic difference between their economies and lifestyles. Southern states relied mainly on agriculture, and led a luxurious life. They believed in preserving their past and present culture. In comparison Northern states relied more on trade and industry. They led a hardy life, were more educated, and believed in adopting new ways of life. However, explicit cause of Civil War was the difference between the two groups over the question of slavery.

Though the Civil War started in 1861, the progressive people in Northern states were opposed to slavery since around 1800. Attempts were made to reach a compromise between the people who opposed and supported slavery by passing some laws that put some restrictions on slavery but did not abolish it completely.

As the opposition to slavery grew, Southern states feared that slavery may be abolished completely. When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 they felt he might do so in near future. To avoid such a possibility, some of them decided to secede from the rest of the country. The first state to do so in December 1860 was South Carolina. Five other states - Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana - followed in January 1861. In February 1861 they formed a Confederate States of America. Texas joined them in March 1861.

The Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina - a Military Post of Union (the undivided USA) on April 12 , 1861. This can be taken as the date of stat of Civil war. The war lasted for four years and ended on April 9, 1965 with surrender of General Lee to General Grant.

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