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The Question of State Rights and the Cause of the American Civil War - Essay Example

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The Question of State Rights and the Cause of the American Civil War The American Civil War that lasted from 1861 to 1865 was historically relevant because it was one of the bloodiest and most destructive wars that pitted Americans against one another. For a long time, the common impression about the war is that it was ignited because of the issue of slavery…
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The Question of State Rights and the Cause of the American Civil War
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Download file to see previous pages In fact, the issue of slavery only served as a trigger that eventually let loose the war that was waiting to happen due to animosities between the states, particularly those in the South, and the federal government. These animosities are based on the contrasting stand regarding the issues of state rights and the powers of the federal government when it comes to the administration of the states. It was during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln that the issue of slavery became such a contentious and divisive issue in the country. Most of the states in the North have made into law the abolition of slavery but the South continued to defend it as a very important aspect of the economy. However, Lincoln strongly pushed for the abolition of slavery on a nation-wide scope. This angered the South who also had supporters or lobbyists within the halls of congress. In a debate with a pro-slavery political figure, Lincoln said, “I believe we shall not have peace upon the question until the opponents of slavery arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or on shall become alike lawful and in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.”i This point only antagonized further the states, particularly in the south. This stance from the president himself only encouraged the Southern States to consider seceding from the Union and to establish their own sovereign country which would naturally continue to promote slavery as a means of utilizing manpower for its economic activities. This conflict also highlighted the unresolved debates that occurred during the founding period of the country. Such issues were once sidelined intentionally or were relegate to the background while the country was still trying to establish itself politically and economically, especially because it had just won independence. However, it did not take long for such antagonisms to grow into actual conflicts. All it took was for the federal government to insist on it’s the laws at the expense of the states for these to happen. A particular event that led to the sharpening contradictions evidently between the North and South, but actually between the federal government and the states, was what happened in the Nullification Crisis in 1832. At that time, a federal law was made that introduced tariffs in order to discourage foreign competition with the products of the industry which were largely found in the North. However, such law put the South at disadvantage because of its dependence on imports. Through their own interpretation of the Constitution, key political leaders of the South insisted in nullifying the said tariff law. They pointed out that “should the federal government exceed its delegated powers by, for example, enactive a protective tariff, a state had the power to declare such an action unconstitutional and therefore null and void within its boundaries.”ii This is exactly the same attitude that the Southern states had when the North and the federal government moved for the abolition of slavery. Due to the fact that such legislation would put it at such great disadvantage many of the states in the South actively sought exemption from it. From the perspective of the federal gover ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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