American History Final.docx - Diana Wallens Professor...

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Diana Wallens Professor Brunsman Intro to American History December 12, 2015 Slavery: The True Cause of the Civil War What caused the Civil War? Many Americans, especially adherents to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, claim that it was the South’s pursuit of states’ rights. I argue that this theory is false; slavery was the cause of the Civil War. The westward expansion of American territory brought the issue to prominence in U.S. politics. It also caused the tensions between the North and South to reach their boiling point, tearing our country apart in a violent conflict that would last for years. In the United States, the South’s tradition of bondage began with The Constitution. The important document was the foundation for the rules, laws, and management of the American government, but it does not even explicitly mention this institution. One significant, indirect mention of slavery arrives in the Three-Fifths Clause. This was added to give the less populous Southern states more representation in the U.S. government. The numbers of individuals in each state would be determined by “adding the whole Number of free persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” (Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3). Because there was no law prohibiting it throughout the nation, slavery could continue in the South and support the region’s lucrative agricultural market. The Compromise of 1787, ratified at around the same time, only banned it in the
Northwest Territory. Slavery would continue to thrive in the Southern United States without widespread contention, until the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Before the territory of Missouri gained enough people to become a state, the number of slave and free states in America was equal. But its admittance into the Union “threatened political balance” (Lecture 19). Although the congressional debates over whether or not Missouri should become a free or slave state had “ little to do with humanitarian objections to slavery and everything to do with political power” (Murrin et al.), they brought an issue into the political sphere that had been largely ignored. Previously, the United States had previously admitted free and slave states without government contention. Now this concern was brought to the attention of Congress, and the final decision to admit Missouri as a slave state ensured that it would not quickly go away. The Compromise brought the “South’s commitment to slavery and the North’s resentment of southern political power into collision” (Murrin et al., 11-2b), seriously

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