Civil War - Causes

The South, which was known as the Confederate States of America, seceded from the North, which was also known as the Union, for many different reasons. The reason they wanted to succeed was because there was four decades of great sectional conflict between the two. Between the North and South there were deep economic, social, and political differences. The South wanted to become an independent nation. There were many reasons why the South wanted to succeed but the main reason had to do with the North's view on slavery. All of this was basically a different interpretation of the United States Constitution on both sides. In the end all of these disagreements on both sides led to the Civil War, in which the North won.

There were a few reasons other then the slavery issue, that the South disagreed on and that persuaded them to succeed from the Union. Basically the North favored a loose interpretation of the United States Constitution. They wanted to grant the federal government increased powers. The South wanted to reserve all undefined powers to the individual states. The North also wanted internal improvements sponsored by the federal government. This was more roads, railroads, and canals. The South, on the other hand, did not want these projects to be done at all. Also the North wanted to develop a tariff. With a high tariff, it protected the Northern manufacturer. It was bad for the South because a high tariff would not let the south trade its cotton for foreign goods.

The North also wanted a good banking and currency system and federal subsidies for shipping and internal improvements. The South felt these were discriminatory and that they favored Northern commercial interests.

Now the main reason for the South's secession was the Slavery issue. Basically the South wanted and needed it and the North did not want it at all. The South was going to do anything they could to keep it. This was the issue that overshadowed all others. At this time the labor force in the South had about 4 million slaves. These slaves were very valuable to the slaveholding planter class. They were a huge investment to Southerners and if taken away, could mean massive losses to everyone. Slaves were used in the South as helpers in the fields in the cultivation of tobacco, rice, and indigo, as well as many other jobs. The South especially needed more slaves at this time because they were now growing more cotton then ever because of the invention of the cotton gin. Cotton production with slaves jumped from 178,000 bales in 1810 to over 3,841,000 bales in 1860. Within that time period of 50 years the number of slaves also rose from about 1,190,000 to over 4,000,000. The plantation owners in the South could not understand why the North wanted slavery abolished that bad.

Southerners compared it with the wage-slave system of the North. They said that the slaves were better cared for then the free factory workers in the North. Southerners said that slaveowners provided shelter, food, care, and regulation for a race unable to compete in the modern world without proper training. Many Southern preachers proclaimed that slavery was sanctioned in the Bible. But after the American Revolution slavery really died it the North, just as it was becoming more popular in the South. By the time of 1804 seven of the northern most states had abolished slavery. During this time a surge of democratic reform swept the North and West. There were demands for political equality and economic and social advances. The Northerners goals were free public education, better salaries and working conditions for workers, rights for women, and better treatment for criminals. The South felt these views were not important. All of these views eventually led to an attack on the slavery system in the South, and showed opposition to its spread into whatever new territories that were acquired. Northerners said that slavery revoked the human right of being a free person. Now with all these views the North set out on its quest for the complete abolition of slavery.

When new territories became available in the West the South wanted to expand and use slavery in the newly acquired territories. But the North opposed to this and wanted to stop the extension of slavery into new territories. The North wanted to limit the number of slave