Other than death and paying taxes, few things in life are truly inevitable. Each event occurs in response to another and is connected into a chain that leads to a certain conclusion. In 1776, the southern United States did not feel the need to remove themselves from the Union to which they had willingly joined. But in 1861, it seemed inevitable that the southern lifestyle would not be able to exist in a society intent on destroying it. What provided the catalyst for such a stark turn of events? Slavery—a cornerstone of southern society—existed peacefully inside the Union since the nation’s Declaration in 1776. Thus it was not slavery that fueled the secessionist flames in the Deep South, but contravention on political, economic, and social levels. Secession occurred as a backlash to extensive northern infringement on southern ideals: a backlash that would ultimately lead to the destruction of the entire institution of slavery.
The rift between northern and southern political ideals grew as the Civil War approached. Many southern politicians felt that their interests became less important as liberal Northerners dominated the political arena. As the years ticked on and more and more states were accepted into the Union, it was clear that northern and southern citizens had different sets of interest that had to be accommodated in different ways. The 1820s brought the emergence of the territory issue—which states would be accepted into the Union, and with what provisions—and mass sectional politics (as northern and southern ideals grew apart). Southerners felt that their needs were not being represented in Congress, since even though the Senate was balanced, the House had slightly more northern representatives than the south. In 18...
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... on the inclusion of the institution of slavery, but rather on foster southern ideas as a whole.
It is true that the CSA found slavery to be an incredibly important part of their national mission, as evidenced by Alexander Stephens and his speech outlining black slavery as the “cornerstone” of the Confederate government (Stephens). But it was not the reason for secession, nor the sole difference between the Union and Confederacy. The long history of conflict in the Union resulted in what many saw as an unavoidable ending, but what was really a conclusion stemming from a line of precise and certain events which aggravated the relationship between the two parts of the country. The crux of this conflict—the disagreement over slavery—would prove to be the catalyst for the chain of political and social events leading up to the war, but not as the reason for secession.
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