Ever since the waning battles, and the slow, contentious process of reconstructing the Union and the readmission of the Confederate States, the American Civil War has filled more pages of scholarly discourse than any other event in U. S. history (1). Amongst the endless topics to which these volumes are devoted, no topic is more debated, chronicled and studied than the various causes that lead to the bloodiest conflict in American history, and its effects on this country’s future.
As the 19th century rapidly progressed toward internal conflict in the recently-formed United States of America, it’s physical, economic, and military growth created continuous need for its leaders to build its structure through the tools provided by the Constitution. “Manifest Destiny”, as John O’Sullivan described it, was realized as America’s borders stretched to the Pacific. Population rose exponentially and continued West forcing leadership and legislation to work to maintain democracy, quickly putting a spotlight on the cleavages that had been slowly dividing the nation’s allegiances into Northern or Southern.
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Many of these cleavages, such as different economic, social and political ideologies, were indirectly born from factors inherent to two distinct regions of the nation. Others, such as the Southern defense and reliance on slavery, and its radical, separatist threats of secession, that directly caused passionate divisions and often-violent results. Ultimately, it was the South’s active pursuits of these direct causes of the Civil War, as well as its use of those indirect cleavages to further separate themselves from the North, that lead a nation of united states to be split in half.