Slavery in America: The Beginning of the Civil War

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Slavery in America: The Beginning of the Civil War Should humans be autonomous or responsible? In other words, should they follow the convictions of their own hearts or surrender their ideals to another power presumed to be superior in its wisdom? This dilemma between autonomy and responsibility presents itself constantly. The struggles over abortion, euthanasia, and drug legalization are perfect examples. In each of these cases, individuals are either pushing for stronger individual rights (the freedom to make decisions regarding their own lives) or a stronger stance on the behalf of their government (to legally prevent individuals from making bad decisions). When looking at the civil war in America the dilemma over autonomy vs. responsibility is an interesting one. Its uniqueness is highlighted when looking at the question: to whom are they responsible. In 1776, the United States declares their freedom from Great Britain. Rather than remaining responsible to the British government, who was suddenly attempting to control them, representatives from the thirteen colonies of America sign the Declaration of Independence. While laying out the framework for this independence, numerous debates arise over the question of slavery. Despite opposing viewpoints over this issue, the Declaration of Independence is signed with slavery remaining intact. By leaving the issue of slavery unresolved in the Declaration of Independence, America’s future would rest upon an institution with an unsteady foundation. This quandary ultimately sets the stage for a number of inevitable conflicts culminating in South Carolina’s secession from the Union and a great civil war. “Was a civil war inevitable over slavery in America? No. A w... ... middle of paper ... ...nneth C., Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996. Pg. 31. [iii] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 29. [iv] Keifer, Joseph Warren, Slavery and Four Years of War, New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1969. Pg. 37. [v] Leland, Charles Godfrey, Abraham Lincoln and the Abolition of Slavery in the United States, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1879. Pg. 49. [vi] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 25. [vii] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 14. [viii] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 27. [ix] Jackson, Andrew, in Slavery and Four Years of War, pg. 54. [x] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 119. [xi] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 152. [xii] Leland, Charles Godfrey, pg. 110. [xiii] Davis, Kenneth C., pg. 176. [xiv] Africans in America, The New York Tribune, at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/narrative.html.

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