Causes of the Civil War Essay: Example and Tips

Today’s post is dedicated to writing an essay about the causes of the civil war. Instead of giving you one causes of the civil war essay example, we will share three completely different essays on that topic. We hope that such an approach will help you see that even such a non-creative topic can give space for an artistic mind. Here are the topics of essays, which we propose to your attention.

Topics of causes of the civil war essay examples

  1. Civil war in the USA 1861-1865: causes and character of war
  2. The real causes of the US civil war between the North and the South
  3. 7 main myths about the Civil War in the United States

Civil war in the USA 1861-1865: causes and character of war


In the middle of the 19th century in the United States, the lagging economic development of the southern states from the northern ones was particularly noticeable. The reason for the gap was the distinction between forms of exploitation of labor: if the northern states used exclusively hired labor, then in the southern states there was the work of the Negro slaves, which could not be successfully applied in the multi-sectoral agriculture or in the industry. That is why there were almost no factories in the south. The use of slave labor was advantageous only on large cotton plantations with a primitive predatory land treatment system.

The situation was different in the northern states. In the northeast of the United States, where wage labor was most intensively exploited, the factory industry grew rapidly (it arose in the US only in the second decade of the 19th century). In the populated northwest, the number of farms has multiplied. The population of the northern states grew mainly due to immigrants from Europe.

The settlers were well aware that wage labor in the southern slave states was extremely low, that small landowners in the South, not keeping up with the competition of large planters, were generally ruined, turning into so-called “white poor” who had misdeed their existence. Therefore, settlers came exclusively in the North. In 1860, there were more than 22 million inhabitants in the north, and only 9 in the south (4 million slaves of them).

Difference in North and South

Despite the fact that the North has long began to play a major role in the US economy and continued to develop much faster than the South, in power in the United States until 1860 were predominantly the protagonists of the slave owners of the backward South. Because of this, the conflicts that arose between the bourgeoisie and the slave-owners were generally resolved in favor of the slave-owners. With this, the American bourgeoisie could not reconcile itself: conscious of its economic power, it was radically interested in securing the slaveholders of the reins of government and establishing their undivided domination in the United States.

But, as you know, the descendant class never voluntarily gives way to a new class. The slave-owners of the South, realizing that they want to deprive them of political power, began to fight for the strengthening of their shaken domination in the United States. For this purpose, planters from the south of the mid 40-ies of the 19th century became even more zealously than before to strive to increase the number of slaveholding states in the United States. First of all, they organized a series of attacks on the lands of their weaker neighbors. So they succeeded in annexing Texas and New Mexico. Previously, these lands belonged to Mexico, where slavery was prohibited by law in the early 19th century. Into the United States, they were included as slave states.

However, the rapid populated by farmers of the lands of the northwest overthrew the calculations of the slave owners. In the west, there were new states, in which the slavery was forbidden on the demand of the masses. In this regard, the percentage of representatives of the North in the congress continued to increase. In 1854, the slave-owners, reluctant to volunteer their positions, resorted to a new adventure: they sent a number of gangs to Kansas, a farmer settled in order to turn this state into a slave-owning one. Farmers, knowing that the existence of their farms near the plantation threatens them with ruin, took up arms. The American working class actively supported farmers in their struggle against slaveowners-planters. Bloody Fight in Kansas in 1854-1856 ended with the victory of the farmers.

Widespread masses of the American people have long insistently demanded the adoption of the so-called homework act, a law whereby every American who wanted to engage in farm labor should have a free land plot in the unoccupied territories of the West. Beginning in 1854, the homework Act was submitted several times to the congress. And every time Congress rejected it. The siege owners were afraid that the adoption of this law would dramatically speed up the settlement of the West, accelerate the development of the capitalist economy of the northern states, and thereby would bring about the overthrow of their political domination in the United States. The slaveholders supported the reactionary part of the American bourgeoisie, fearing that leaving a significant part of the working people to the West would force American businessmen in the northeastern states to raise wages to the workers. All this further intensified the hostile attitude of the broad circles of the American people to the slave owners of the South and their northern allies.

Election of Abraham Lincoln

Under the pressure of the masses, the bosses of the bourgeois republican party were forced to nominate a candidate for president of the open opponent of the slave-owning oligarchy, Abraham Lincoln, during the 1860 election. Despite the desperate resistance of slaveowners-planters supported by the most reactionary part of the American bourgeoisie, Lincoln was elected president of the United States. In response to his election, the slaveholders rebelled and proclaimed the formation of a new “independent” state – the Confederation of American States.

The bourgeoisie of the North could not reconcile with the division of the South. It was in its interest to use the southern states as a source of raw materials – cotton, as well as a market for products from the American industry. It could not reconcile with the fact that in connection with the separation of the southern states, which weakened the United States as a state, plans to further intensify the American aggression policy became unworkable. The bourgeoisie was seeking to return the southern states to the United States at all costs. Frightened by the activity of the masses that had sharply increased in the late 1860s, the American bourgeoisie first tried to achieve this by way of collusion with the slave-owners. But this attempt failed. Progressive figures of the North protested against the secret negotiations with the slave owners, and the slave-owners categorically refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the bourgeoisie. Considering that over time the bourgeoisie would certainly try to force the South back into the US, the slave owners decided to begin the first civil war: they wanted with the help of weapons to regain its domination in the US. The slave-owners were confident in the success of the war against the North, because:

  • firstly, they considered it to be not prepared for military action (the military business in the United States was practiced almost exclusively by the southerners);
  • secondly, they were counting on the help of the West European powers, especially of England, alarmed the rapid growth of industry in the northern states and wanted America to continue to serve as a commodity base for it (cotton, bread) and a market for industrial goods.

Conclusion. Beginning of the war

On April 11, 1861, by an attack on the Fort Sumter, belonging to the North, at the entrance to the port of Charleston (the capital of the state of South Carolina), southerners unleashed a civil war in the United States.

Thus, the civil war in the United States began in 1861, due to the exacerbation of contradictions between the slaveholders and the bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and slave-owners and farmers, on the other. According to Marx’s character, the war of the southerners against the northerners was “in the full sense of the word of the aggressive war for the spread and perpetuation of slavery.” All the sympathies of advanced humanity were on the side of the northerners.

The real causes of the US civil war between the North and the South

In the United States, there is a widespread myth that the reason of the civil war between the North and the South was a struggle of ideas, a confrontation between humanism and barbarism, between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Lynch. It seems that this enmity still persists, exterminating American society from the inside, threatening with almost a new bloodshed. But all of this is not true.

Bourgeois historians look for the reason for the American civil war anywhere, but not where it really is. Because in this case, the romantic image of noble abolitionists will burst on the seams, exposing the ugly class inward. There was no war between the North and the South in the war for the liberation of the Negroes.

It was a war of the industrial bourgeoisie of the North with remnants of serfdom that prevented the creation of a single labor market for all states, and provided millions of defenseless workers to the full disposition of future owners of America – its robber barons, the founders of the main oligarchic dynasties.

No one asks the question – why in Chicago, New York, Boston the number of black population is so high? After all, only southern states had slaves. The truth is that, initially everybody traded slaves.

Secondly, the rich people of the North, where, due to the climatic conditions and the geography of the migration of capital from Europe, large-scale industrial production was concentrated, it was simply the first to realize that exploiting the liberated slave was more profitable than exploiting the slave in the shackles. The landless, impersonal black slave is a snag that is thrown on the white worker’s neck, that is, the liberated slaves are the same “reserve army of labor”, the very fire extinguisher, which is always necessary for the capitalist to bring down the price of labor.

In short, the triumph of the North over the South meant that the labor force brought from Africa was not liberated, but conquered, in order to be subsequently thrown onto the market and to guarantee the profits of the major capitalists about fifty years ago (when the new waves of hungry emigrants begin to overtake America).

From the point of view of the development of productive forces and production relations, the process is absolutely natural. That is why, for many prominent abolitionists, the shadow of the rich of the North, paying for the liberal newspapers and books, is seen. That is, the civil war in the United States became only the final chord of the protracted bourgeois revolution – the war of some, progressive, capitalists against the capitalists of the feudal-landed type – reactionary. Of course, they were ideological, there were romantics – like John Brown, who brought his own sons to the altar of struggle against slavery. But, incidentally, they in the modern US are considered extremists, rebels and provocateurs and can not claim the honors that Lincoln deserves.

Whatever the case, the South has been losing from the start. By its economic potential, the North surpassed it four times. The help of the British crown did not help the Confederates.

The lesson that the descendants of the history of the civil war in the United States have to extract – the stuff of history does not turn back. The reaction sooner or later falls under the blows of the revolution. In nature, there are no forces that could cancel this process. Therefore, the next round of class struggle in the United States (and in other countries) under no circumstances will lead to the revival of the Confederacy, feudalism, slave-owning or primitive communal system. Not at all. The struggle between classes, which breaks out at times in the most ugly street scenes, will sooner or later throw away the history of those who celebrated the victory in 1865 in the garbage basket.

7 main myths about the Civil War in the United States

The Civil War of 1861-1865 has become the bloodiest military conflict in the history of the United States of America. Losses on both sides of the dead exceeded 625 thousand people, more than 400 thousand were injured. The consequence of the Civil War was a radical change in the image of the country. Being the event of such a scale, the Civil War in the United States is surrounded by many myths spread both in America itself and abroad.

  1. The reason for the war was the question of the release of black slaves

The most common and steady myth represents the northerners as advocates of progress, and the southerners shown as ruthless exploiters. This is completely untrue. Few know that on the side of the North there were four slaveholding states – Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland.

The real causes of the conflict lay in the economic sphere. For example, the parties fundamentally differently approached the issue of taxes on imported goods – the industrially developed North advocated the introduction of high taxes, while the South sought freedom of trade with the rest of the world. In fact, the northerners pushed the laws that were profitable to them, and transferred the cost of industrialization on the shoulders of southerners, whom such a policy threatened with ruin.

The new US president, Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, announced that all new states in the country would be free from slavery. Such a prospect was a steady advantage of the northerners in the congress and in the power structures, which would allow them to accept any laws that are convenient for them, without taking into account the opinion of the South. That’s what pushed the Southerners to take active steps to protect their own interests.

  1. Southern states, having separated from the USA, have rebelled

President Abraham Lincoln named his opponents – rebels, but at the same time he deliberately distorted reality. The US Constitution did not have a ban for individual states on leaving the country, although there was no permission to do so. The secession (that is, the separation) occurred with the observance of all formalities. Each state elected representatives to the constitutional council of the state who voted for or against secession. According to the results of the vote, “Decree on secession” was issued.

On February 4, 1861, the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America was opened, in which 6 states announced the formation of a new state – the Confederation of the Americas. On March 11, at the session of Congress, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted, which replaced the Provisional Constitution that was in force earlier. Subsequently, the number of participating states of the Confederation reached 11.

  1. During the war, the South sought to spread slavery throughout the United States

As already mentioned above, the South separated from the North and formed a separate country – there were no plans to impose its liberty on the northerners from the southerners. The struggle was for the “fluctuating” states, where there was no predominance of one of the parties.

Southerners in the course of the Civil War tried to preserve their own identity and their own laws without transferring them to the territory of their opponents. Actually, this aspiration has become the reason for the creation of the Confederacy.

  1. President Abraham Lincoln since the beginning of the war was in favor of abolishing slavery throughout the United States

The view of Lincoln as a radical supporter of the abolition of slavery is greatly exaggerated. Here are the words of Lincoln: “My main task in this struggle is to save the Union, not to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without releasing any slave, I would have done it, and if I had to liberate all the slaves for his salvation, I would have done it also.”

As for Lincoln’s views on black people, they looked like this: “I have never spoken and will not be for social and political equality of two races: black and white, I never supported the point of view that the negro got the right to vote, sat in a jury or occupy some position or married white … I will add that there is a physical difference between the white and the black race … and like any other person, I am for the fact that the white race occupied a dominant position.”

Lincoln’s image as a great humanist was created by propaganda. In fact, Lincoln fought for the interests of the industrialists of the North and for the preservation of a single state. The abolition of slavery was only one of the methods in the fight against the South.

  1. On the side of the North, the adversaries of slavery fought, on the side of the South – its supporters

The most famous commander of the North Army General Ulysses Grant was a slave owner. His slaves were freed only after the entry into force of an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery in 1865. Asked why he did not release the slaves himself, Grant replied: “Good help in the economy is hard to find today.”

His main opponent, the commander of the South Army, General Robert Lee, was an opponent of slavery and had no slaves before the start of the Civil War. Southern generals Joseph Johnston, Ambrose Hill, Fitzroy Lee and Jeb Stuart were not slave owners. President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, wrote that slavery in the South would “come to nothing” regardless of the outcome of the war.

As veterans of the South Army wrote, they fought not for the preservation of slavery, but for “preserving our supreme and sacred right to self-government.”

  1. Black Americans fought only in the ranks of the North Army

In the Confederacy, black Americans fought from the very beginning of the conflict, but, unlike the North, they were not united into consolidated regiments.

There is nothing surprising in this, since in the southern states, according to the census of 1860, there were at least 240,000 free black citizens. About 65 thousand blacks fought with weapons in their hands on the side of the Confederacy. In 1865, on the eve of the defeat, in the South, a decision was officially made to recruit black slaves into the army. It was supposed even to form of a 300-thousandth Negro army, but these plans were not implemented.

Meanwhile, in the militias of certain states of the South, obeying the governor of the state, and not the central government, slaves began to serve almost since the beginning of the Civil War. Confederations’ Army units were often international in composition: white, black, Hispanic and Indians fought together in the 34th cavalry regiment.

  1. The victory of the North brought freedom to the black people of the United States

Indeed, the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which came into force in 1865, abolished slavery throughout the country. But the abolition of slavery provided the black man with only personal freedom. There will not be any talk about the equalization of their rights with the white people for decades to come. Moreover, after the release of yesterday’s slaves, former owners expelled them from their lands, depriving them of their personal property. There was no violation in these actions, from the point of view of American laws.

At best, free blacks could go to work to their former owners. If this was not possible, they were doomed to wandering around the country in search of work. At the same time, the law was introduced in the USA prohibiting vagrancy.

As a result, it logically led to the outrage of “black crime”, which in turn led to the creation of a racist organization of the Ku-Clux-Clan and numerous “Lynch’s courts” over the blacks, which were the norm of American life until the middle of the 20th century.