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The Causes of the Civil War
Transcript of The Causes of the Civil War
Slavery was a fundamental cause of Southern secession and the Civil War, as shown through the cultural differences it created in the nation, territorial controversies it caused, and the political uproar that it inevitably led to.
Because each new state held spaces in Congress, there was an ongoing battle about whether individual territories should allow slavery.
By: Tegan Borg, Shannon Yan, Connor Sweeney, and Sean Croghan
Differences in economy between the North and South meant that the South relied on slavery while the North did not. This resulted in major cultural differences between the two regions.
Because Southerners relied on plantations and slavery to prosper, it became an ordinary part of their daily lives.
This caused them to be unsympathetic to the plight of slaves.
While Southerners were accustomed to the barbarism of slavery, Northerners were not and were often horrified by its evils.
This caused them to believe slavery was deeply wrong.
The economic differences between the North and South created two distinct cultures which included greatly varying viewpoints on slavery. These incompatible opinions caused the Civil War.
The climate of the South was perfect for growing crops, which resulted in an
agricultural economy that depended on slavery.
The North was more suited for industrialism, and so slavery in the North was inessential.
The Wilmot Proviso was a bill that attempted to eliminate territorial slavery. Although it didn't pass,
it enraged Southerners, who saw slaves as property
and wanted to take them wherever they wanted.
The Compromise of 1850 was a plan to admit states into the Union in such a way that Congressional power between slave states and free states was balanced. Both sides felt they had to give up too much for this compromise, but
the South was especially offended.
This is a political cartoon from the Anti-
Slavery Almanac in 1860.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act aimed to leave the decision of slavery in the territories up to popular sovereignty, essentially overriding the Missouri Compromise. This angered Northerners, and
arguments over territorial slavery led to a 3-year war in Kansas and violence in Congress.
Top: The Southern economy was composed mostly of plantations and were reliant on slaves.
Because political power was at stake, debates over slavery in the territories raged on. Attempts to settle these arguments only led to even more anger and unrest, and
even led to a war in Kansas that some historians argue was the beginning of the Civil War itself.
The issue of slavery caused aggressive political contention that further created a rift between North and South.
By 1860, some in the deep South were considering secession, convinced that the North wanted to abolish slavery entirely. When Lincoln became president in the election of 1860,
the South seceded because he had expressed desire to stop the spread of slavery.
Top: The Northern economy was mainly based on manufacturing and industry, and therefore had little use for slaves.
The Fugitive Slave Act, passed in 1850, allowed people to arrest those accused as fugitives without a warrant. It also forced Northerners to help catch runaway slaves, which
most Northerners believed was morally wrong. Southerners, however, felt this law was justified.
Political differences caused violence. For example, John Brown, an abolitionist, murdered several proslavery people. This even spread to Congress, as a proslavery representative beat an antislavery representative with a cane.
This violence was clearly a prelude to the Civil War.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 posed the question to Northerners: should they go against their morals and obey the law or should they do what was right and disobey authority?
Furthermore, the clear cause for Southern secession was that Southerners sensed a threat to slavery.
Slavery was the predominant cause of Southern secession and, consequently, the Civil War, as shown through the developmental contrasts, territorial disputes, and political contention it created between North and South. Even before the South seceded, these factors caused a war in Kansas that some historians claim was the beginning of the Civil War itself. This can also be proved by the fact that the South seceded directly after Lincoln was elected president because they felt he would pose a threat to slavery.
Top: Slaves were forced to work in harsh conditions and were treated cruelly. This horrified many Northerners.
Do you have any questions, comments, or disagreements?
Do you think the war that broke out in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas") was the true start of the Civil War?
How did the economic differences between the North and South lead to different viewpoints on the issue of slavery?
How do you think territorial and political disputes over slavery further divided the North and South?
As differences grew between the North and South, disputes over slavery rose to a breaking point. The political and territorial problems that arose as a result of slavery divided the North and South and caused the South to secede from the Union, which lead to the Civil War.
The North and South had different viewpoints on slavery.
This caused territorial and political problems over slavery.
These problems caused the South to secede.
The secession of the South caused the Civil War.
Bottom: To Southerners, slaves were merely property that could bought and sold.