8 Summary of Argument: Politics and Slavery Political historians have tended to argue that the North and South went to war because their political system broke down. War, they argue, was not inevitable, nor was it a result of necessarily divergent economic or social paths. The war came from a critical political breakdown in the midst of the sectional crisis. The complex connections and loyalties among national parties, state parties, and individual voters, they argue, explain the breakdown. Michael Holt, Daniel Crofts, and William Shade have compiled the most detailed studies of party formation in the antebellum period for Pennsylvania and Virginia. Their studies suggest several important patterns. First, ethnicity and religious affiliation were important determinants for party identification in this period in both places. Second, party leadership in both places shifted in the 1850s, becoming less differentiated by socioeconomic factors. Third, strong
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American Civil War, Daniel Crofts, Slavery Political historians