When the Founding Fathers of America gathered to sign The Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, their meeting marked the beginning of America’s separation from Britain. Little did they know, the South would recreate such an event 90 years later when it would secede from the Union. This act of secession would spark the Civil War, which claimed “more than half a million lives and a million wounded. ” In the 19th century, a majority of the population started to reflect on itself, in particular, its practices and customs.
This introspection resulted from demographic pressures caused by technological advancement, unfavorable legislation, modernized thoughts, and incompetent leaders. Such factors contributed to creating varying perspectives across the country as well as inequality between the North and the South. This cluster of diverse views would render the government insignificant as it attempted to create a solution that would be impartial to both sides. Because of demographic pressures vexing the American populace, contradictory viewpoints and perspectives plagued the nation, ultimately leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.
As new perspectives emerged across America, the Federalists abandoned their previous ideals, promoting not only contemporary social attitudes, but also causing a considerable decline in their reputation. The Hartford Convention, an assembly of the New England Federalists, consisted of members debating about the repercussions of the War of 1812 and the emerging dilemmas caused by the federal government’s increased control. If the accepted solution failed to reduce tensions, the “legislatures of the states would appoint delegates to another convention to be held in Boston.
The Federalists acknowledged the likelihood of their solution’s incompetence in addressing their issues by having a backup plan, and hence, arranged another meeting which would focus on their secession from the Union. Prior to the demographic pressures affecting them, the Federalists believed that America should stay united under the rule of a central government. However, due to all the social turmoil rising across the country, they now deemed secession as the only possible solution to their problem.
Because of the federal government’s increased control, the Federalists passed legislation that would give more power to the state. In response to new ideals emerging throughout America, the Federalists opposed their previously respected idea of a central government and now believed that authority should go to the state government. As the Federalists adopted new ideas, their influence caused numerous individuals to support secession. Along with varying perspectives, technological advancement also played a crucial role in creating tensions and demographic pressures.
Often thought of as a necessary process, technological progress supposedly bettered society; however, rather than advancing society, technology had hindered it. For instance, Eli Whitney designed a “revolutionary invention” known as “the cotton gin,” just as slavery’s influence was arriving at its final stage. The cotton gin made it manageable for slaves to separate the seeds from cotton, allowing them to harvest cotton at a much faster rate than previously expected. As plantation owners recognized this superior invention, they made slaves work twice as hard, allowing plantations across the South to continue slavery due to a surge in profits.
Nevertheless, the increased productivity of slaves pressured southerners to grow economically reliant on slavery, establishing an unprecedented dependence on the industry. The cotton gin might have fulfilled the intentions of the slave owners, but the slaves suffered due to this invention. As the South progressed due to the invention of the cotton gin, the North discovered an extensive amount of coal, which helped construct “factories, railroads, and industry throughout its region. The surplus coal aided the North in developing into a modern, industrialized society. Where the North could rely on its industrial advancement to progress society and increase population, the South solely depended on slavery to maintain its inferior economy. Ultimately, the South realized that the valuable resources always existed in the North and welcomed the idea of secession, establishing a motive to face the North in the upcoming Civil War. As the 19th century progressed, heated tensions rose between the North and the South due to troubling legislation.
When the American government started passing unfavorable bills regarding certain territories in America, hostilities increased significantly, destroying the only aspiration of avoiding a civil war. Due to plentiful resources and population growth, the North transformed into a metropolitan area with advanced technology and successful ventures. It was also able to increase its territory due to the Ordinance of 1784, which allowed it to “incorporate new north-western states into its region,” and “achieve a larger population of residents. The North’s increase in territory caused the South to envy its prosperity, increasing tensions that would contribute to the Civil War. Similar to how the Ordinance of 1784 escalated tensions in the South, the Wilmot Proviso, intended to eradicate slavery, drew an uproar from both the North and the South.
Henry Clay, a politician opposing slavery, defied the expectations of both the North and the South by instructing the North to refrain from “demanding the terms” of the Wilmot Proviso and the South “against considering secession. Since the South possessed a worse economy than the North, Clay had asserted that by eradicating slavery in the South, it would wage war just to preserve its economy. Clay’s warning revealed that the government advocated the North as opposed to the South, and that it was incapable of passing sufficient legislation. The South discovered the government’s bias towards the North and started the process to secede from the Union in order to achieve autonomy and create an honest government. After the American populace had realized the ineffectiveness of legislation concerning slavery, people took it upon themselves to accurately portray slavery.
In order to show the public that slavery was unethical, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel chronicling Tom’s journey as a slave. Stowe’s accurate descriptions of slavery profoundly affected northerners, causing them to disapprove of the southern practice. The northerners were so shocked at the brutality of the plantation owners that they were willing to fight on behalf of the slaves. Opposing Stowe’s literary piece, William J. Grayson composed a poem known as “The Hireling and the Slave,” in which he asserted that slaves lived comfortably compared to wage laborers.
The Hireling and the Slave” embodied the South’s perspective on slavery, showing the contrasting view between the North and the South. Grayson’s work explained that slaves should be grateful towards their owners as they possess comfortable lives compared to the hectic lives of wage laborers. Nevertheless, southerners instantly believed Grayson and felt content knowing that slavery was morally right. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and “The Hireling and the Slave” along with many other slave-related publications, proved to both the North and the South their opposing perspectives, providing another reason to engage in warfare.
As the North and the South recognized their contrasting viewpoints and the flaws in each other’s actions, their political relationship crumbled. Senator Charles Sumner outright criticized the South, asserting that the South had a plan to increase its territory and control the entire country. Sumner’s contempt for the South demonstrated how quickly things were turning violent on both sides. After Congress had passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, individuals rushed to Kansas’s borders as it could decide if it wanted to tolerate slavery within its boundaries.
As people from both the No and the South gathered in Kansas, a fierce conflict occurred, causing a “small-scale civil war” known as “Bleeding Kansas. ” All the rising tensions across the country manifested themselves in this battle, hinting at the cruelty of the Civil War. Sumner also increased hostilities when he mocked Senator Andrew Butler’s honor, causing Congressman Preston Brooks to assault him with his cane in an incident referred to as “Bleeding Sumner. ” As America’s population watched two respectable men attack one another in the Senate chamber, they knew for certain that a bloody civil war was approaching.
As the crisis in America worsened, the only miracle that could now prevent a civil war was an effective leader. However, 19th-century American leaders were quite incompetent. They were unsuccessful in passing proper legislation that would eradicate the problems plaguing America. President Andrew Jackson foolishly vetoed the Maysville Road Act issued by Congress, claiming that it was not a national matter. Henry Clay, an American lawyer and politician, opposed the President’s decision, arguing that the roadway had potential in aiding the “movement of armies” and therefore, was a “national consideration.
Clay’s argument highlighted the flaws in Jackson’s decision, proving to many Americans how incapable Jackson truly was. Individuals were even questioning the president’s role in national matters. As the presidential election of 1860 drew closer, South Carolina warned the Union that if Lincoln were elected, it would secede from the Union as Lincoln maintained “opinions and purposes that were hostile towards slavery. ” Despite South Carolina’s warning, America welcomed President Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican to accept the position. As cautioned beforehand, South Carolina fulfilled its threat and seceded from the Union in 1860.
Due to Lincoln’s ambition of freeing all slaves, the South created its own country with the help of leaders such as Robert E. Lee, who would allow slavery to thrive for the South’s prosperity. The brutality of the Civil War still haunts many Americans today as they look back to the breakdown of America. The sudden violence that ensued after decades of peaceful negotiations shocked people around the world. While technological advancement, unfavorable legislation, new thoughts, and incompetent leaders produced varying perspectives across America, the government failed in its mission of avoiding war.
The overwhelming presence of strain on the relations between the North and the South caused demographic pressures to plague America, eventually leading to the outbreak of the Civil War. For a country to avoid repeating such a mistake, leaders must be willing to sacrifice anything in order to resolve conflicts within the country. By addressing concerns even before they emerge, humanity will be able to act for the greater good without sacrificing the dreams of even a single individual.