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31 Causes of the Civil War

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31. CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR. The Civil War was the culmination of the development of conflicting interests and feel ings between the slave and the free States. Slavery in Colonial days, aided by favoring physical conditions, obtained a deeper hold in the South than it did in the North. The in vention of the cotton gin increased that hold in many ways, and hastened the growth of in dustrial and social differences between the two sets of States. The North, with its free labor, was able to respond to the industrial revolution which found its origin in certain great mechan ical inventions, including the application of steam as a motive power, the manufacture of iron and the use of coal as fuel. Northern industry became rapidly diversified and North ern population grew with great rapidity and built up great centres of production. The South, with its Slave labor, did not, or could not, take advantage of the new industrial forces, but pursued the older and quieter ways of planta tion life. Her occupations did not increase greatly in number or change in character and her population remained, as formerly, largely agricultural. The meaning of two such con trasting industrial and social conditions was not dearly seen at first. It took the tariff policy from 1816 to 1828 to show that these contrasting interests were becoming conflicting interests. The adoption of a distinctly protective policy caused commercial New England to enter upon an era of manufacturing, although her capital had been largely in the carrying trade. This same policy, after 8 or 10 years, convinced Southern leaders that their hopes of the South's profiting by the tariff were doomed to disap pointment. Hence, in defense of their section and the interests built upon its system of slave labor, these leaders generally united in opposi tion to the tariff. But how could the South successfully opposeprotection while in a minor ity in the House of Representatives and while not able to carry Kentucky, Louisiana and pos sibly other slave States against the tariff? Southern leaders soon began to pronounce the tariff unconstitutional, but as neither Con gress nor the Supreme Court had so held, this sort of opposition was not very successful. But John C. Calhoun of South Carolina went fur ther and declared that according to the Ken tucky and Virginia Resolutions, the final appeal of the slave States should be to the right of nullification by which, according to his view, any sovereign State might refuse to obey any law of Congress which the State deemed un constitutional. The principles of the Kentucky and the Virginia Resolutions (q.v.) had been again and again asserted by the New England States during the War of 1812. James Madison,

the author of the Virginia Resolutions, denied Calhoun's interpretation of them, and the other slave States refused to follow South Carolina into nullification in 1833. They did, however, accept more and more the States Rights view of the Constitution, as a means of shielding their peculiar interests. Every additional con flict between the two sections only intensified the South's view of this political doctrine, and in the end stood to the seceding States as the constitutional justification of secession. With little exception, during this same period, the North was moving just as certainly further and further from the views of the Hartford Con vention and more and more toward the nation alistic view of the Constitution. The doctrines asserted by Webster and Hayne in the great debate were typical of the position of the two sections. The two sections, therefore, were not only developing interests more or less antago but were developing views of the Con stitution best suites to the' defense of their 'respective interests.

During Andrew Jackson's administration the consciousness of hostile sectional interests was deepened by other events besides the tariff con troversy. Again and again in the South Caro lina Exposition, and in other papers intended to prepare the way for nullification, Calhoun set forth the idea of permanent industrial and social differences between the two sections. The attack by the abolitionists upon slavery as morally wrong, and the reply of the slaveholders in demanding the suppression of anti-slavery agitation, by denying the right of petition on the question of slavery, greatly strengthened the idea that the two sections possessed contrasting and conflicting interests. The natural conse quence was the rise of antagonistic feeling be tween the slave and free States. The growth of hostile feeling went rapidly forward during the contests over the annexation of Texas and over the Mexican War. Southern leaders declared that the acquisition of new territory for slavery was necessary to preserve the balance of power in the Senate and give fresh soil and a wider area for slavery. The anti-slavery men declared that, for these very reasons, no such territory should be acquired. Both parties began to threaten the Union. In 1844 the legislature of Massachusetts passed a resolution, introduced by Charles Francis Adams, which referred to the Constitution as a "compact" and asserted that annexation was an undelegated power to which Massachusetts would not submit. South ern declarations of dissolving the Union, if slavery should be excluded from the Territories, were even more emphatic.

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