The American Civil War Essay

6913 Words Jan 27th, 2013 28 Pages
Background to the War

After the War of Independence the United States of America was governed by the Articles of Confederation. This provided for a weak central government and strong state governments. However, it proved unworkable and a new Constitution was adopted that resulted in a stronger Federal government with powers which included regulating interstate commerce as well as foreign affairs.

The different states had varying policies concerning slavery. In some areas of the country where religious groups such as the Quakersplayed a prominent role in political life, there was strong opposition to having slaves. Rhode Island abolished slavery in 1774 and was soon followed by Vermont (1777), Pennsylvania (1780), Massachusetts (1781),
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Lincoln argued that the territories must be kept free for "poor people to go and better their condition".

Abraham Lincoln raised the issue of slavery again in 1858 when he made a speech at Quincy, Illinois. Lincoln argued: "We have in this nation the element of domestic slavery. The Republican Party think it wrong - we think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong. We think it is wrong not confining itself merely to the persons of the States where it exists, but that it is a wrong which in its tendency, to say the least, affects the existence of the whole nation. Because we think it wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong. We deal with it as with any other wrong, insofar as we can prevent it growing any larger, and so deal with it that in the run of time there may be some promise of an end to it."

Lincoln's speech upset Southern slaveholders and poor whites, who valued the higher social status they enjoyed over slaves. However, with rapid European immigration taking place in the North, they had a declining influence over federal government.

Opponents of slavery were also becoming more militant in their views. John Brown and five of his sons moved to Kansas Territory to help antislavery forces obtain control of this region. With the support of Gerrit Smith and other prominent Abolitionists, Brown moved to Virginia where he established

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