After the American Revolution, the states seemed to be very closely united and did not pay attention to differences that existed between them. One would think at that time that political disputes in this country were resolved through compromise once and for all. But in 1860 the debates over slavery and states’ rights resurfaced and caused Civil War. In this paper we will discuss the reasons of this change in American society, as well as the reasons of the disputes’ start over controversial issues in the USA in the1860.
Discussion of the possibility to disunite started because of considerable differences that existed between the two parts of the USA – the North and the South. Economic difference lied in the fact that Southerners were dependent on crop and cotton, while Northerners were living in an industrial society. Social difference was greatly influenced by a slavery issue, and political one rose out of the two previously mentioned. Economic difference was the root of all problems. Americans from the South had free labor and wealth due to plantations and wanted to promote spread of slavery to the West. They were not willing to compromise and resented the rule of federal government. At this point abolitionist movement rose and tendencies concerning succession appeared.
There were people who wanted the South and the North to be separated, as well as there were those who were of the opposite opinion. For instance, in the document A we may read about the opinion that South Caroline cannot disunite and is not even trying to do so (Document A). Document D is another opinion against secession. Here an American nationalist speaks about impossibility of disunity and importance of the North’s concession to the Fugitive Slave Law (Document D). There were also people who considered that such issue, as slavery is not to be discussed at all, especially by the governmental structures. According to the document C, “Gag rule” was to be applied to antislavery petitions in the Houses of the Parliament (Document C).
The North and the South had their own peculiar cultures and ways of life, but, most importantly, their economies were depending on totally different things. Economic revolution took place and gave birth to industrial order. Consequently, manufacturing revolution in the North of the USA fostered vast expansion of cotton cultivation in the South. As cotton business was thriving, plantations’ owners in the South needed more and more slaves as a free workforce. In this way slavery, thought to be doomed at the time of American Revolution, found congenial company in the market revolutions’ growing demand for raw materials from the periphery (Martin, 2005). According to James Madison, the institution of slavery and its implication formed the line of discrimination (Green, 2011). As American Revolution turned colonies into states, the writers of states’ constitutions in the North abolished slavery gradually and with little controversy due to its limited impact on their region’s economy and society (Green, 2011). But in the South slavery was still important and it was almost impossible for the people of that region to imagine the world without it. According to the document B, a lot of people were of the opinion that slavery is to be abolished because it goes against the God’s law. It is also indicated that Americans who retain human being in involuntary bondage as their property are man stealers (Document B). In the document G we may also read that Abraham Lincoln attests that slavery goes beyond politics; it impacts religion, literature, lifestyles, morale to excite and divide the community (Document G).
Civil War that was required to destroy slavery in the USA resulted not from economic competition between two incompatible forms of production, but from the political and ideological struggles between champions of these codependent forms (Martin, 2005).
Market revolution was one of the reasons of slavery growth in America (Martin, 2005).
People from the North and from the South were so incited against each other that they even engaged in fights. In the document E we may see a picture Senator Preston Brooks arguing with Senator Charles Sumner concerning the issue of Southern succession (Document E). Offences of various types were very frequent during that time. For instance, in the document F we read a verbal attack of a Southerner on ill-bred, ill-mannered Northerners. He tries to make a comparison between working classes and small farmers in the North and gentlemen in the South (Document F).
To conclude with, political disputes in America resurfaced in 1860 because of various reasons, but the issue of slavery and states’ rights were the most pressing ones. The coexistence of slave-owning South and anti-slavery North made conflict very likely. Although after the Civil War slavery was abolished, it took centuries to eradicate it and disputes about its complete abolition.