To What Extent Was Slavery the Cause of the American Civil War?

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In the context of the period 1763-1865, how far was the American Civil War caused by long term divisions over the issue of slavery? In his second inaugural address in March 1865, Abraham Lincoln looked back at the beginning of the Civil War four years earlier "all knew," he said, that slavery "was somehow the cause of the war." This essay will endeavour to discuss the role of long term divisions caused by the slavery debate in the eventual outbreak of the Civil War. In doing so this analysis will encompass the period between the birth of the nation beginning with the start of the American Revolution in 1763 and the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. This being a period in which the newly independent nation struggled with its state…show more content…
They are antagonistic principles and cannot exist long together - one or the other must fall.” ‘Slave power’ heightened through media influences such as the non-abolitionist Cincinnati Daily Commercial claiming “There is such a thing as THE SLAVE POWER” encouraged the Northern populace that action needed to be taken against the South in order to preserve the existence of their personal liberty. On the other hand, many Southerners like historian Ulrich Bonner Phillips, viewed slavery as a hierarchic order thus making it wholesome practice. Phillips recalls setting off to school as a young child and burdened by the prospect that his “sable companion” was able to play all day long. According to Hugh Tulloch, the Southerners had evolved a unique form of social relations based on slavery; whereby the master’s role was essentially paternal, “without slavery the black would either lapse into African savagery.” It is this view and that of Edward Channing’s, “the slaves were often happier than their masters” that appears so distorted in comparison to the Northern interpretation on slavery. It was this that became an important factor in consolidating antislavery sentiment in the North, thus widening the sectional rift between the North and South. "If slavery is not wrong,
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