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“The tragic fireball in the night imagined by Jefferson had finally
rung. The Missouri Compromise had failed. Proslavery and antislavery
civilians clashed in the streets and took up arms. Thousands of Northerners
were willing to die for their beliefs. The Civil War had begun. The states
were at war with each other.” This dividing battle between the North and the
South was unavoidable. The Civil War was caused by economic, political and
moral problems. It all started by an alarming increase in a need for cotton,
which triggered the building of a barrier between two territories in a growing
New Machinery was changing the textile industry in New England and
Britain. These mills needed more and more cotton, creating a new demand in
the south. For this trade with Europe, after 1812, raw cotton accounted for
one-third all cotton exports of the United States. By 1830, it increased to half.
Cotton quickly became a big money-making cash crop for the South and
North economy alike. But the demand also revived the need for slaves. The
plantations had to be worked, and blacks were a cheap, efficient way to get
the cotton picked. To make their jobs easier, Eli Whitney took advantage of
the new idea, and invented the cotton gin(short for engine). It rapidly cleaned
the seeds from the short, sticky fibers of upland cotton, the variety that grew
all over the South. The process was simple: a roller carried raw cotton along
wooden slats. Sharp metal teeth thrust through the slats and quickly pulled the
fibers from the seeds. In 1794, he obtained a patent. Whitney still earned little
because it was simple enough for manufacturers to copy. Even though the
machine made attaining cotton faster, slaves were still pushed to work harder
Blacks under captivity certainly led a harsh, unfair life. But that is
where the white southerners believed blacks belonged. Northerners knew
better. Harriet Beecher-Stowe, a female, black abolitionist was aware of
these conditions. She wrote Uncle Toms Cabin, which was published in
1852, and described the incredible cruelty and horrors of slavery. Stowe
wanted to “write something that would make the whole nation feel what an
accursed thing slavery is.” Her novel became widely popular, and within a
year, readers had bought 300,000 copies. Wherever it went, it carried its
powerful message of the evils of slavery. She hoped the novel would bring a
peaceful end to slavery, but instead it seemed to bring the nation closer to
war. Of course, not all Southerners supported slavery, nor did all Northerners
oppose it. Yet antislavery feelings were on the rise in the Northfew white
Southerners went to extremes. Their concern lay in maintaining the plantation
system as it existed. With her book she was able to gain many Northerners
support in the antislavery race, yet at the same time she outraged the
Southerners. Harriets novel was one of the many things that sparred mistrust
between the North and South. The North didnt trust the South because they
refused to help Southern plantation owners capture slaves. North depended
on the South for making money, and the South depended on the slaves to pick
their cotton. This created the Northern fear of Competition. The North was
afraid that South would gain power of crops and put them out of business.
This meant that slavery would double. The North was torn between giving the
slaves their rightful choices, or keeping the economy balanced. It was a
matter of moral standards. The South wanted to break away from the union,
while the North still wanted the two territories to stick together. This conflict
was the main cause of the Civil War. The South argued about their states
rights. They said a state could nullify a federal law it did not consider
constitutional. Southern states based their right to leave the union, on the fact
the original 13 states had existed separately before they formed together for
the United States. The South could break their allegiance to the union because
they were not part of the original U.S. If they could form there own
confederacy, the South could continue the use of slaves while also keeping
The political issues that caused the Civil War, revolved around matters
that involved territorial subjects and slavery acts. In 1820, the Missouri
Compromise was worked out and gained congressional approval. Missouri
was to be admitted as a slave state, and Maine would enter the union as a free
state. The compromise also prohibited slavery in other American territories
west of the Mississippi river and North of Missouris southern boundary.
Stephen A. Douglas introduced a bill called the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It
proposed to divide the area into two territories: that of Kansas and that of
Nebraska. It was implied that Kansas would become a slave state, and
Nebraska would be free of slavery. Popular sovereignty was also put into
effect. This act gave the voters, in each territory, the right to decide whether
to become a free state or a slave state. Together, they rendered the Missouri
As the Souths dependence on slavery increased between 1790 and
1860, the gap between the Southern cotton economy and industrial economy
of the North widened. The opposing goals and needs of the North and South
created a deeper conflict- a conflict that eventually lead to war. Basically, the
North fought to keep the union together, and give black slaves freedom, while
the South fought for their lifestyle, homes, and to keep things together
economically. The northerners had high moral issues while the Southerners
wanted to keep their plantations and cotton production. They werent willing
to give up there slaves. There were too many conflicts between the two
territories, so they fought to resolve them. John Brown, a vengeful abolitionist
put it best, “the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with
blood”. The north won the war, and ties were broken. The barrier they had
started to build so long ago finally crumbled.


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