How important was the role of slavery in igniting the American Civil war in 1861?
Internal Assessment
Christopher Allen
Centre Number: FR042
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Candidate number:









Lycos NIC Admin (web address renewed 2008-01-08). The Mason-Dixon Line [ONLINE]. Available at: http://henryburke1010.tripod.com/id69.html. [last accessed: 9th October 2013]







This image shows the Mason-Dixon Line which split up America into the North and South







Contents
Section A: Plan of investigation
Section B: Summary of evidence
Section C: Evaluation of sources
Section D: Analysis
Section E: Conclusion
Section F: List of sources
Section G: Appendices

Plan of investigation:
This study will seek to answer the question “How important was the role of slavery in igniting the American civil war in 1861?” I will look at the social, economic and political factors and determine the level that slavery affected them. I chose this question as my knowledge of American history is very sparse, and I sought to seek how pivotal slavery was in inciting the American Civil war.

In order to answer this question, I have structured my analysis section using the following method, I will establish what problems America faced and what caused them using information from my sources, using arguments from different points of view. The next step will be to evaluate the sources, to judge whether they are good enough to draw a strong conclusion from. I will use this information to form a conclusion.

In order to keep the scope of the question manageable, I have made use of a variety of carefully selected sources, in particular, the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Battle cry of Freedom” by James M. McPherson amongst others[1], amongst others.[2] [3]










Summary of Evidence:
The Economy:
Slavery existed in America since 1501 and after United States declaration of Independence in 1776 the growth of abolitionism in the North grew slowly but indefinitely, and the reliance upon the slaves became more evident particularly after 1793 with the invention of the cotton gin.[4]
The North and South had different economic attitudes, the South had a huge focus on cotton, “Our cotton is the most wonderful talisman in the world”[5], and because of the importance thus the slave owners gained a lot of political power, “every president in the First Forty-Five years of our nations {America] existence was a slave holder other than John Adams and John Quincy”[6]. Per capita, southern wealth rose 62%, the average price of slaves increased by 70% and the value per acre of agricultural land appreciated by 72%, however in heavy industry and manufacturing their expenses only increased by 39%[7], this shows the importance of slavery to the south, by 1860 the estimated value of the slave trade was $2.8Billion[8]. The North however was growing industrially, now only 6% of Northerners were illiterate compared to 50% of Southerners. Businesses had three times the workers and six times the engineers and investors in the North. [9]

Political problems:
The polarity in the economy meant that political divisions were inevitable, it caused two distinct groups to form, the North vs. the South. The North would be fighting for greater Federal rights whereas the South would fight for State rights to protect slavery and avoid high tariffs.


Social Problems:
Due to the political division there were great social problems, these stemmed from Geographical debate mainly. ‘Bleeding Kansas’ is an example of this, Kansas was under dispute as to whether to be a slave state or free state and both the North and South fought for their respective sides by sending in people to vote, this caused 56 deaths and served only to polarize further. [10]


The President and secession:
Another kick in the teeth to the South came in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was elected as president despite not even featuring in the southern ballot; this led to the secession of seven states. This was a result of Abraham Lincoln being against slavery saying in 1958 “We shall propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as wrong.”[11] He attempted to cool things down by saying “I do not intend to interfere with the institution of Slavery in the States where it exists? I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. The government will not assail you. You have no conflict without yourselves being the aggressors”[12] at his inauguration, but this failed. Tension was at a critical level.































Evaluation of sources:
Jefferson Davis (1888) The rise and fall of the confederate government. D. Appleton & co. (ISBN: 0-306-80418-2) – See Appendix A
With reference to the origin of the source, it is a quote from President Jefferson Davis taken from his book “The rise and fall of the Confederate government” which he wrote in 1881. The purpose of the source is to inform the reader as to why (In Davis’ mind) the United States ended up in a civil war. Davis says “I hope the time may come again when a better comprehension of the theory of our government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the states, will prevent anyone from denying that each state is sovereign” making it clear that states’ rights were the reason as to secession, this can be substantiated by the fact that he fought for states’ rights as the Federal government posed a threat to the Southern Economy, through tariffs. However, simply stating those states’ rights was the reason leaves out the fact that they were fighting to protect slavery. The value of this source is that it gives us an insight into Davis’ POV at the time, but the limitation is that it leaves out key-facts, i.e. Southern dependence on slavery.


Archibald, Henning (1856) Punch Magazine The United States- A black Business (Cartoon) ‘The Office’, 85 Went Street - See Appendix B
With reference to the origin of the source, it is a British political cartoon published in a humorous and satirical magazine called Punch in 1856. This source has the purpose of informing the reader that Slavery is the problem causing all the unrest in America. The source depicts a slave tearing the US along the Mason-Dixon line and boldly states that Slavery is what is causing the problem hence, “a black business” this can be substantiated as in 1856 (the time of publishing) the heaviest fighting in ‘bleeding Kansas’ took place causing 56 deaths.[13] The value of this source is that it gives a British view on what the conflict was about, so it is not quite as subjective as the Davis’ source. However, the limitation of the source is that it was made before the war, and before Lincoln was elected in 1860, so it does not take into account all evidence a modern-day historian has.














Analysis
Different interpretations
Through researching “How important was the role of Slavery in igniting the American civil war in 1861?” I came across two differing approaches to the question. The first being that slavery had a role to play In almost all areas in the ignition of the Civil war, in an economic sense it was the South’s backbone they could not afford to lose, so came the political debates over state or federal rights, then the geographic social disputes such as ‘Bleeding Kansas’, this then compiled by Lincoln being elected. The second view is that the war was caused by the Northern abuse of State’s rights, i.e. the high tariffs that were imposed on the South

Critical analysis
All of the sources I have used in this investigation try to answer the question “how important was the role of slavery in igniting the American civil war?” The Majority of modern historians agree that Slavery played a great part in igniting the problems which ultimately caused the outbreak of war, James M. McPherson said that “maybe 95% of serious of civil war historians would agree on the broad questions of what the war was about, which was the increasing polarization of the country between the free states and the slave states over issues of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery.”[14] The source which I used in part C: Evaluation of sources by Punch Magazine echoes this viewpoint on how the civil war came about, this however is a source lacking important details, particularly the election Abraham Lincoln.

On the other side of the argument, stating that slavery was not the reason for the civil war the evidence is limited, simply because most modern Historians agree that Slavery[15] had a large impact on igniting this war. The only real source I have used is that of President Jefferson Davis, an extremely biased source as he was the leader of the confederates. He says that states’ rights and tariffs are to blame for the outbreak of war, this can be substantiated somewhat by the fact that in 1832 when South Carolina threatened to secede from the union, the main reason for this was the issue of the tariff, not slavery.[16] The extract however fails to mention the important of slavery to the South, and that it was worth $2.8 billion, this takes some credibility away from it.








Conclusion
In conclusion, slavery was pivotal in igniting the civil war in 1861,, the economic problems were bought about by the South relying on slavery and neglecting to move into the industrial age with the North, this split the country in two, it then caused the political debates over state sovereignty, which was fought by the south to protect slavery, Geographic problems were also bought about by slavery i.e. ‘bleeding Kansas, Mexico. There were problems other than slavery such as the problem of the high tariff but this alone was not enough to cause a civil war. I can conclude that without the issue of slavery there would have been no civil war in 1861 or indeed afterwards as the issues other than slavery were quite insignificant.


Word Count: 2000


































F. List of sources
(Books listed in alphabetical order)
1) Davis, Jefferson (1888) The rise and fall of the confederate government. D. Appleton & co. (ISBN: 0-306-80418-2)
2) McPherson, James M. (1988). Battle cry of freedom. London: Penguin in association with Oxford University Press (ISBN: 0140125183)
3) Norton, Mary Beth (2010) A people and a Nation. Wadsworth publishing Co inc. (IBSN: 978-0495916192)

Website:
1) Kelly, Martin. War - History of the Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war.html.
2) Simkin, John. Easynet Global Services Limited (web address renewed 30-May-2013). American Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivilwarC.html. [last accessed: 9th October 2013]
3) Truman, Chris. Causes of the American civil war [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/causes-american-civil-war.html.
4) Blight, David. Public Broadcasting Service (web address renewed 28-May-2013 14:22:20 UTC). Africans in America [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3narr6.html.
5) Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2013). Digital History. Retrieved 7/09/2013 from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.eduMagazine publication
Magazine publications:
1) Cuncliffe, Marcus. (1953) the causes of the American civil war. History Today.
2) Spicer, John. (2004) The cause of the US civil war. History Review.
3) Watts, Dale. (1995) “How Bloody was bleeding Kansas? Political killings in Kansas territory, 1854-1861. Kansas History.
Images
1) Henning, Archibald. Punch Magazine (1856) The United States- A black Business (Cartoon) ‘The Office’, 85 Went Street
2) Lycos NIC Admin (web address renewed 2008-01-08). The Mason-Dixon Line [ONLINE]. Available at: http://henryburke1010.tripod.com/id69.html.
















Appendix A: “Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be justified upon the basis that the states were sovereign. There was a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again when a better comprehension of the theory of our government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the states, will prevent anyone from denying that each state is sovereign, and thus may reclaim the grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.” – Confederate President Jefferson Davis

Appendix B:
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[1] McPherson, James M. (1988). Battle cry of freedom. London: Penguin in association with Oxford University Press (ISBN: 0140125183)

[2]Easynet Global Services Limited (web address renewed 30-May-2013). American Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivilwarC.html. [last accessed: 9th October 2013]
Christopher Truman (web address renewed 13-Jul-2012). Causes of the American Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/causes-american-civil-war.html. About, Inc.. Civil
War - History of the Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://americanhistory.about.com/od/civilwarmenu/a/cause_civil_war.html.
[3]Spicer, John(2004) The cause of the US civil war. History Review.

Cuncliffe, Mark(1953) The causes of the American civil war. History Today.
[4] Public Broadcasting Service (web address renewed 28-May-2013 14:22:20 UTC). Africans in America [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3narr6.html. “The first federal census of 1790 counted 679,897 slaves; by 1810, there were 1.2 million slaves, a 70 percent increase”
[5] Mary Beth Norton (2010) A people and a Nation. Wadsworth publishing Co inc. (IBSN: 978-0495916192) Pg. 270
[6] Public Broadcasting Service (web address renewed 28-May-2013 14:22:20 UTC). Africans in America [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3narr6.html. “every president in the First Forty-Five years of our nations {America] existence was a slave holder other than John Adams and John Quincy”
[7] James M. McPherson (1988). Battle cry of freedom. London: Penguin in association with Oxford University Press (ISBN: 0140125183) Pg.95
[8] William Lowndes Yancey put the $2.8 billion estimated worth on the Slave trade in 1858.
[9]The military profession claimed twice the percentage of Southerners as northerners, while the ratio was reserved for men distinguished in Literature, art, medicine, and education. In Business the proportion of Yankees was three times as great, and among engineers and inventors it was six times as large. James M. McPherson (1988). Battle cry of freedom. London: Penguin in association with Oxford University Press. Pg. 40
[10] Dale Watts. (1995) “How Bloody was bleeding Kansas? Political killings in Kansas territory, 1854-1861” Pg. 116-129
[11] Lincoln, Abraham. (1859) The Lincoln-Douglas debates.“We shall propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as wrong.” The Lincoln-Douglas debates 1859.
[12] Abraham Lincoln - I do not intend to interfere with the institution of Slavery in the States where it exists? I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. The government will not assail you. You have no conflict without yourselves being the aggressors.” Speech at Cincinatti, Ohio, September 17, 1859. “The paper project Gutenberg Ebook of the papers and writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume five, by Abraham Lincoln. Project Gutenberg, July 5, 2009.
[13] Watts, Dale. (1995) “How Bloody was bleeding Kansas? Political killings in Kansas territory, 1854-1861” Pg. 116-129
[14]Todd, Michael. (2011) Like It Or Not, Historians Agree Slavery Caused U.S. Civil War [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/of-course-the-civil-war-was-about-slavery-26265/ Probably 90 percent, maybe 95% of serious historians of the civil war would agree on the broad questions of what the war was about and what caused it, which was the increasing polarization of the country between the free states and the slave states over issues of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery.”
[15] See appendix A
[16] John Spicer. (2004). The cause of the civil warYet when South Carolina threatened to secede over states' rights back in 1832, inspired by John Calhoun's rhetoric, it was over the tariff issue and not slavery”