The Road to the American Civil War (1850-1856)
The American Civil War still remains one of the most pivotal periods in American history. Its origins can be tracked back to the problems that emerged from the Missouri Compromise as the Federal government sought to promote westward expansion into uncharted territory. This particular situation was further exacerbated by the sudden annexation of the State of Texas by Mexico and the animosity and violence that soon followed. Today, it is generally agreed that the road to the American civil was paved with states’ clamor for recognition of their autonomy, the issue of slavery, and the political and economic divide that seemed to exist between Northern and Southern states. The California Crisis and the Kansas Crisis were two of the most important events precipitating this conflict. The California Crisis was a turning point in the conflict given that the decision to admit California into the Union was viewed as an affront upon the views the slave-owning South (Neely, 2017). The discovery of gold in California had seen the federal government promote a westward expansion while also spreading abolitionist views which went against the values and ideals of the Southern state. The Kansas Crisis was also a major factor that led to the American Civil War since the slave-owning South was sharply against the decision to vote on the issue of slavery in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
What is the California Crisis, and what are the consequences
The California Crisis was one of the major factors responsible for sparking the American Civil War and began when California formally joined the Union after the discovery of gold in 1848. This initial discovery of gold deposits in this area had been followed by a keen focus on westward expansion by the Federal government and an influx of immigrants to work on the mine. A section of the population that also moved to California was from the North and had raised fears among Southerners that they had brought, together with them, the ideology of abolition (Lincoln & Douglas, 2019). The abolitionist movement was strong and well-established in the North which is particularly why slave-holding Southerners feared that California would now be infiltrated by some of their agents. The South also feared that the admission of the territory of California into the Union would seeming upset the balance of power within the region and thus viewed it as an immediate threat. Moreover, they also regarded the admission of California into the Union as a ploy to weaken the South which also made them ever more suspicious of the intentions of the North.
…..The California crisis resulted in further polarization between these two regions; with the South insisting that the North is trying to intentionally destabilize it and viewed it as a threat to their way of life. It was also evidence of the North’s growing influence over the social, economic, and political fabric of a young United States, leading the South to conclude that direct confrontation was the only viable attempt at addressing this issue (Fellman, 2017). The tipping point of this stalemate came when it became quite apparent that the North had a direct interest in abolishing slavery in the South which ultimately caused a great deal of anger and resentment among plantation owners. However, the California Crisis was a critical period during the road to the civil war since it brought national attention to the horrors of the institution of war in the South and helped to galvanize support among abolitionists.
What is the Kansas Crisis, and what are the Consequences?
The Kansas Crisis was another major event that is often viewed as one of the main causes of the civil war. In the years following the California crisis, the Union decided to assent to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 that essentially created provision for the creation of Kansas and Nebraska as two independent and autonomous regions directly within the South’s sphere of influence (Neely, 2017). Settlers were subsequently invited and allowed to move into these new territories with the sole purpose of swaying the vote when it came to voting on whether or not to abolish slavery. This ultimately resulted in mass violence and bloodshed within these territories and was among one of the most visible signs that the Union was steadily hurtling towards civil war. Moreover, this conflict further emboldened abolitionists from the North to activate and support the anti-slavery movement which was in direct opposition with the South’s way of life. The North and South were now in direct opposition to each other in their ideals and ideas of the Union. While the North’s primary aim was to preserve the Union during this entire process, the South opined that the only practical solution to their predicament was to secession.
…..The North attempted to safeguard its political and economic power which they now considered to be under direct threat from talk of secession by the South. Additionally, the North also firmly believed that allowing the South to secede would set a dangerous precedent for other states and was, therefore, determined to stop it at all costs. Abolitionists from the North also believed that the Union had a moral duty to stamp out slavery in the South since they considered it an evil that had to be eradicated. On the other hand, the South was fully aware of the fact that slavery was the cornerstone of their economy and part of their culture and viewed abolitionist ideology as a clear encroachment by the Federal government and an affront upon the right of states.
Why does the South leave/fight? Why does the North fight?
After weighing all possible options and the consequences of the Union’s action, the South decided to leave prompting the North to declare war. This was a defining period in the history of the United States primarily due to the fact that the United States had not seen any major conflict ever since 1776 (Fuller, 2015). As mentioned earlier, the North was now fighting to preserve the integrity of the Union while the South was fighting to preserve its way of life. Yet, the confluence of the American Civil War was in the changing attitudes witnessed all across the Union and the rigidity of some of the party intent on holding on to their old ways. Different attitudes and belief systems had now developed all across the Union such as the view that slavery was a moral evil which now prompted the South to respond by declaring independence. The South was also a firm believer in the principle of state rights and viewed these recent developments as a violation of their sovereignty directly within the context of the Union. By fighting for independence, the South was affirming these rights and sending a clear message to the federal government that they would essentially continue with the institution of slavery and would continue to strive to protect their own interests.