Why Did the Civil War Happen?

Civil War

There were actually several issues that can explain why the Civil War happened. These differences would result in the bloodiest battles on American soil.

Business Rivalries

As the country began expanding its territories, the states began forming alliances. This of course led to disputes. The northern states were the focal point of manufacturing and other related industries. To maintain their edge, they demanded that tariff rates be increased. They were afraid that imported products would result in loss of profit and unemployment.

This policy was opposed by the southern states. They were not as heavily industrialized as the north. Instead they relied on imports from Britain. One of the reasons why the Civil War happened was due to the tariff rates. The south was bitterly opposed to it because an increase would be more costly.


Slavery was another point of contention. There were an increasing number of states that wanted the practice abolished. Black people couldn’t own property and their movement was limited. They weren’t allowed to go to parks, hotels and other places. The north wanted this practice abolished.

The southern states objected. They argued that labor was needed for work. Their livelihood was heavily dependent on agriculture. Without labor, their businesses would suffer. It was one of the main factors why the Civil War happened.

The Mexico Issue

In 1846 the US went to war against Mexico. The Mexicans were defeated and their lands became part of America. However this led to more disputes. The south wanted the lands and the Mexicans to be enslaved too. The northern states opposed this.

The Secession of the South

In 1854 the Congress passed into law the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It allowed for these areas to decide if slavery should be allowed or not. This was followed in 1860 by the election of Abraham Lincoln as United States President.

The southern states couldn’t accept Lincoln as President as his policies were for the abolition of slavery. A month after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina seceded from the Union. They were followed by other southern states. Thus one of the reasons why the Civil War happened was the secession of the states.

The southern states called themselves the Confederate States of America. The Union declared the move illegal. The war began in 1861.

A Long and Costly War

The north had advantage in manpower. There were over 22 million of them, while the southern states only had 9 million. 85% of manufacturing and over 70% of the railroad belonged to the northern states. This gave them great advantages.

The southerners on the other hand, had the edge in military personnel. Furthermore they felt that they were fighting a just war. They thought that when they seceded, Lincoln could no longer dictate to them what to do. The southern states believed that they were fighting for freedom.

All of these factors were key as to why the Civil War happened. In the end, Lincoln and the Union prevailed. Slavery was abolished and life in America would never be the same.

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