Civil War

1. React to the statement that the Civil War was inevitable. Tell how you would have acted upon hearing of the attack on Fort Sumter. Include a discussion of the South’s arguments about States’ rights and "The Cause" as understood by Southerners.

Northerners and Southerners, who once claimed common parentage, have become so entirely separated. Each of them had evolved different societies with institutions, interests, values, and ideologies. The north was more urban than the south and was urbanizing at a faster pace. The pace of industrialization in the North far out-stripped that in the South. In addition, Northern farming became increasingly capital-intensive and mechanized, compared to the traditional labor-intensive Southern agriculture. Another difference was the education; the south perceived backwardness in schooling and its large number of illiterates framed one of the principal free-soil for slavery.

The issue of labor was at the heart of the friction. Although the majority of the white Southerners owned no slaves, the plantation system that sustained the southern economy depended upon chattel slavery. Cotton production was the core of this system, and slave labor was appealing to the culture of cotton for several reasons. This form of labor was not attractive in the industrializing north. Slaves, because they were not paid, had no incentive to exercise harder than necessary to avoid punishment. Hence, slaves were not efficient, which was intolerable in an industrial setting.   In fact, to average Northerners slavery was at worst an unfortunate institution that they could not actively support. To most Northerners who thought at all about such matters slavery was not so much evil as it was inappropriate (Snow and Drew 55).

States’ Rights and the Cause as Understood by the South

In the South, there was a great sentiment for a weak central government and primary investment of political authority in the states. While in the North, the...