The civil war refers to a warfare that took place in the United States of America between 1860 and 1865. The war was meant to conserve and safeguard the unity that had lasted in the U.S for centuries. It is believed that the major cause of the war was differences in opinions between the Northern and Southern nations. The main source of these differences was the role to be played by the federal government in control of the States. Those who believed in effectiveness of the federal government wanted it to maintain its power, whereas those who opposed to the federal government wanted the States to be independent from control by the federal government. They proposed that each State should retain the right to formulate its own laws and should be free from directives and commands of the federal government.
In most cases, these rights of individual States clashed with policies, actions and requirements of the federal government. Strong arguments, thus, cropped up over critical issues such as; taxation, military, national security, trade and slavery. This collision of conflicts resulted into the frequent disagreements between the Northern and Southern States.
Causes of the Civil War
According to Clark, the major cause of conflicts was economic disparity between the States (Clark, 2004). In my opinion, however, it is important to look into details of other sources of conflicts that resulted into the civil war.
First and foremost are the differences in economic and social statuses between the Northern and Southern States. In South America, Eli Whitney invented a cotton gin that facilitated its production, thereby making it more profitable. Increased production of cotton required a cheaper labor. For the plantations to obtain cheap labor, they had to use coercion to deploy workers. This increased the levels of slavery in the Southern States. Consequently, South America solely depended on one crop, cotton, for its economic activities and slavery. In the contrast, the Northern States were more developed and industrialized. They did not depend on agriculture as the only economic activity. They could purchase cotton as raw material at cheap prices from the South, process it and sell it back to them as finished goods at higher prices. This resulted into the high gross domestic product (GDP) and economic stability. These economic disparities set forth major conflicts between the two regions.
In relation to the social life, the North focused on city life, while the South focused on the traditional social settings. In Northern States, there were free interactions of people from various social backgrounds who would work together in the manufacturing industries. Graves referred to this difference in economies, social composition and political views between the Northern and Southern States as sectionalism (Graves, 2001).
Secondly, there were conflicts between the rights of the States and those of the federal government. After the American Revolution, two groups of different individuals with varied interests emerged. One group argued for greater rights for the States, whereas another group fought for more control by the federal government. This led to the formation of a weak federal government by the rivaling States. Leaders of this unstable federal government could meet secretly to draft the Constitution. Most people, such as Patrick Henry, were thus dissatisfied by the Constitution. Most citizens felt that the Constitution disregarded the rights of States to go on with acting independently. The federal government did not allow the States to make rulings unconstitutionally.
Thirdly, there was a fight between the North and South due to Southern States’ persistence use of slaves. The Northern States abolished slavery, while the Southern States continued to seek free laborers to work in their cotton plantations (Graves, 2001).
Fourthly, the civil war was catalyzed by the rise of Abolitionist Movement which took place in the mid eighteenth century. The Abolitionist Movement enthusiasts believed that slavery was immoral, against humanity and viewed it as a social evil. On the other hand, the Southern States regarded slavery as a moral thing and continued to practice it. This resulted into an aggressive debate between the two regions.
The fifth factor that caused civil war was the election of Abraham Lincoln as the president. When he was elected as the president in 1860, various States declared secession. South Carolina, for instance, openly and officially declared the election of Abraham Lincoln as the main cause of its need to secede. Most of the Southern States believed that President Lincoln was anti-slavery and would rule and support the interests of the Northern States.
Furthermore, there was a conflict between the South and North in relation to trade tariffs. The Southern States kept low rates that did not favor the Northern States. However, some Historians argue that the trade tariffs had minimal impact on the civil war, and there is no solid evidence to link it with the American war (Doeden, 2009).
Last but not least, when new territories were created, the North and the South fought over their territorial boundaries. The non-slave States wanted to segregate themselves from the slave States, for example, Alabama, Texas and Florida seceded from the Union that brought together the States. The Mexican war is also believed to have resulted from creation of new territories.
Impacts on American Civilization
The civil war made the once divided nations one indivisible State. After the war, States from the North and South worked towards restoring their lost unity, reconstructing and rebuilding America.
According to Hansen, Gallagher and Jakes, the war laid a good foundation for rapid economic growth and industrialization, numerous innovations, such as ship building and aircrafts and a suitable basis for proper political leadership (Hansen, Gallagher & Jakes, 2010). Additionally, it had great impacts on the American culture. Black culture was easily intertwined with the white Americans’ culture.
Internationally, it enabled America to gain world power due to its unity. Similarly, it also resulted into freedom, justice and independence of the black Americans. In conclusion, America became a changed state after the civil war.