The Secession of the Southern States

There are a lot of scientific views concerning separation of the southern states. Some say that the slavery question was not the most important and there was sharp conflict between plantation owners and the bourgeoisie. There is a perception that due to the big economical problems the states were compelled to secede. More opinion concerning this question associates the secession of the southern states with disagreements over scope of the states’ rights. The large number of thoughts can be caused by great amount of problems, which the America faced in the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is obvious that each problem had influence on the situation, but there was one the most important reason for separation. Thus, the main reason of secession and the U.S. Civil War was slavery and desire of the southern states to extend it to the north against the wishes of the northern states.

The reason for the full-scale war was the battle of Fort Sumter and subsequent secession of seven southern states from the United States. This action was contradicted by the U.S. Constitution which does not allow the withdrawal of states out of the Union. Most historians agree that while the slavery and its diverse effects were the main causes of the states’ collapse, the war began with this act of a collapse (Ayers, 2010). The controversies over the slavery had been brought to the public life surface during the debate about states’ rights and the tariff policy.

There were the additional factors that aggrvated the relations between the North and the South, such as contradictions between political parties, abolitionism, nationalism and localism, territorial expansion, economic crisis and economic modernization during the prewar period. The division of States into the North and South formed back to the colonial era. The economy in the Northeast and Midwest of the United States grew very fast and it was based on the free farming, industrialization, transport system and commerce. The bondage was prohibited under the States’ legislation. Industrialization and the influx of European immigrants, mostly Irish, British and German origin, have caused rapid growth of the population of these States (Ayers, 2010).  

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Slave-owning planters dominated in the South. While the population was also growing, the rate of such growth was significantly lower than in the North. Southern cities were much smaller than the northern ones, the industry remained undeveloped. The two-thirds of the white population did not have slaves; they mostly were employees of rich planters, who completely controlled the economy and political life of the southern states. Although in the early history of the U.S. southern states had great political influence at the federal level, but the demographic changes and universal suffrage led to the fact that the South lost its former influence. In the presidential election of 1860 the Northern states provided more votes than the South, and their candidate Abraham Lincoln became the president despite the setback in the ten southern states (Ayers, 2010). Thhis event caused acute discontent in the South.

Dissatisfaction of the northern states was much stronger. They condemned slavery both as a social evil and the immoral phenomenon, because northern population was quite religious and could not imagine this negative social order in the conditions of freedom of religion.

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The government of both sides tried to reduce the contradictions. Thus in 1820 the Missouri compromise was adopted. It established that the new states were to be accepted into the union pairwise, if one is slave the other should be “free” from slavery. A similar political compromise was reached in 1850, but such tradeoffs only postponed the problem. During the presidential elections of 1860 a fierce struggle took place (Ayers, 2010). The Republican Party demanded the restrictions of the territory with slavery. In addition, the Homestead Act was adopted. It provided the free allotment of land to the settlers in the West. They also established the protective tariff. Its program was supported by industrialists, farmers, workers, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. Of course all these social transformations were extremely disadvantageous for the planters (Ayers, 2010).

Consequently, despite the numerous economic problems and a lot of contradictions there was one the most important reason for secession of southern states. It was the bondage question. The liberation of slaves was very unprofitable for landowners for whom was much simpler to use the gratuitous labor.

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