Essay on The American Civil War

Essay on The American Civil War

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The Civil War has been viewed as the unavoidable eruption of a conflict that had been simmering for decades between the industrial North and the agricultural South. Roark et al. (p. 507) speak of the two regions’ respective “labor systems,” which in the eyes of both contemporaries were the most salient evidence of two irreconcilable worldviews. Yet the economies of the two regions were complementary to some extent, in terms of the exchange of goods and capital; the Civil War did not arise because of economic competition between the North and South over markets, for instance. The collision course that led to the Civil War did not have its basis in pure economics as much as in the perceptions of Northerners and Southerners of the economies of the respective regions in political and social terms. The first lens for this was what I call the nation’s ‘charter’—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the documents spelling out the nation’s core ideology. Despite their inconsistencies, they provided a standard against which the treatment and experience of any or all groups of people residing within the United States could be evaluated (Native Americans, however, did not count). Secondly, these documents had installed a form of government that to a significant degree promised representation of each individual citizen. It was understood that this only possible through aggregation, and so population would be a major source of political power in the United States. This is where economics intersected with politics: the economic system of the North encouraged (albeit for the purposes of exploitation) immigration, whereas that of the South did not. Another layer of the influence of economics in politics was that the prosperity of ...


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...e? Through the armed rebellion of its American residents against the Mexican authorities. Returning to the Civil War, the case can be made that secession in and of itself was not a guaranteed prelude to war. Yet the swift escalation of tensions into military action, as occurred in 1861 at Fort Sumter, suggests that Americans—Northerners and Southerners—were ready for a fight. As American history shows, fighting was something they knew something about.



Works Cited

Kulikoff, A. (2000). From British peasants to colonial American farmers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Kulikoff, A. (1986). Tobacco and slaves. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Roark, J. L., Johnson, M. P., Cohen, P. C., Stage, S., Lawson, A., & Hartmann, S. M. (2009). The American promise: A history of the United States (4th ed., Vol. 1). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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