Causes of the Civil War Term Paper

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Civil War and Sectionalism

Even after the creation of the United States of America in 1776, sectionalism guided economic and political realities throughout the union. The United States developed regional economies, regional philosophies, and regional politics. Slavery, its economics and its politics, was the most contentious issue that divided the nation along northern and southern lines, and would eventually cause the Civil War. As early as the 1790s, the northern states abolished slavery within their borders while the Southern states held on strong to the institution. Sectionalism would become the key cause of the Civil War, the bloody manifestation of sectionalist issues within the United States.

Early signs of sectionalism became evident as early as the War of 1812. The New England states still held strong economic ties with Great Britain, so those states generally opposed the war for financial reasons. Clearly, the economies of the north and south were evolving differently. The largely agricultural south and the increasingly industrial north wholly depended on each other, but competed over the ideology of slavery. Slavery became an economic as well as a politically contentious issue at the root of sectionalism in the United States.

The South's political power also diminished with a considerable diminution of its population: in 1800 about half of the nation's population resided in the South, but by 1850, only a third of the American population resided there ("The Causes"). Sectionalism was fueled by the weakening of the south's political clout within the federal government. The southern states suspected a conspiracy against them, and feeling underrepresented in the Senate and in Congress, many of the southern states proposed voluntary nullification of federal laws. South Carolina in particular wanted to nullify the federal laws that did not serve the needs of the state. Opting out of federal laws was a clear sign…

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Works Cited

'The Causes." The American Civil War. .

"Pre-Civil War (1820-1860)." SparkNotes. .

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