The Evolution of Sectional Strife over Slavery

TheEvolution of Sectional Strife over Slavery

TheEvolution of Sectional Strife over Slavery

Theunion of the Northern and the Southern states was motivated by commonchallenges, including the increases in the tax burden that forcedresidents to join hands and fight for their freedom. However, the twosides (northern states and the southern states) held differentopinions about slavery where the north suggested that slaves shouldbe set free while the south defended slavery on biblical and economicgrounds. The issue of slavery was the major challenge that threatenedthe unity of the newly formed United States. This paper will addressthe evolution of sectional strife between the south and the north,compromises used to reduce tension, and how the strife resulted incivil war. It is evident that the controversial issue of slavery wasthe primary cause of sectional strife that lasted for several decadesand culminated in the Civil War.

Sectionalstrife between the southern and the northern states resulted fromtheir differences in terms of political, customs, social structures,and economic values. These differences occurred between the late1700s and 1860s, the period in which the north shifted fromagriculture to industrial economy while the south focused onagriculture. The northern states required expertise, and not slavesto run their factories. The northern states also mechanized theirfirms, which reduced the significance of holding slaves to providecheap labor. The southern states, on the other hand, focused onplantation agriculture as well as subsistence farming that requiredthe use of cheap labor provided by slaves to reduce the cost ofproduction. The southern forces become more hostile towards theabolitionism of the slave trade following the increase inabolitionist propaganda and the fear of revolt by slaves. Thesouthern accused the north of adopting changes that reduced thesignificance of slavery and claimed that it (the south) protected thehistorical values the United States founding fathers. The differentopinions held by the two sides created a platform for strives thatlasted for nearly half a century.

Theperception held by the Northern states that the slave trade in theSouthern threatened republic values created the need for the use ofall means, including the constitutional and force to abolish slaveryin the South. The Northern states argued that the rich slave ownersin the Southern states used their resources to control the Congress,the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, which endangered the rights ofthe people of the Northern States. The increase in tension betweenthe two sides resulted in the 1820 compromise, which was intended todraw a line beyond which slavery should not be practiced. Thecompromise was made to reduce tension and the threat by the Southernstates to secede from the United States. This compromised “postponed”the civil war by allowing the Southern states to own slaves andprohibiting slavery in the Northern states only. Although the twosides had reached a compromise, the debate on slavery was inevitableand it increased tension and the threat of secession.

TheUnited States expanded its territory through negotiations, purchase,and conquest. Most of the states acquired by the United States(including Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida) joined the unionas slave states, which increased tension between the South and theNorthern states. The Southern states also looked forwards towards theacquisition of more slave states, including parts of Mississippi,Alabama, and California. The Northern states, on the other hand, hadto curtail further expansion of the United States through theacquisition of slave lands. This resulted in a serious collisionbetween the proslavery states and antislavery states in 1848. Thecollision raised the issue of secession again, which created the needfor a second compromise in 1850 to protect the United States fromdisintegration. The second compromise was intended to resolve theissue of acquiring California as a Free State and permitting slaveryin other parts of Mexico. However, this compromise could only reducetension for a short time.

Curtailingthe expansion of the United States through the acquisition of slavestates favored the North, which would now have the power to controlthe spread of the slave trade between states. This motivated theformation Confederacy since no more compromises would reduce thegrowing tension. In addition, the decision by the Supreme Court thatno person with an African origin could become a citizen of the UnitedStates reduced the capacity of the antislavery north to push for theabolition of slavery. This marked the climax of long-term tension,which culminated in civil war that would determine the future of theUnited States.

Inconclusion, the controversial issue of slavery was the major threatto the unity of the newly formed United States. The Northern and theSouthern states had different economic patterns that determined theirviews about the issue of slavery. This resulted in sectional strifeand tension that lasted for several decades. The two majorcompromised made in 1820 and 1850 succeeded in reducing tension for ashort while, but failed to offer a lasting solution. In addition, thedecision by the Supreme Court to refuse to provide a legal solutionto the issue of slavery motivation the idea of secession of theSouthern states, which resulted in the civil war.