What Really Caused the Civil War?
Hi, I’m John Green; this is Crash Course US History and today we discuss one of the most confusing questions in American history: What caused the Civil War? Just kidding it’s not a confusing question at all: Slavery caused the Civil War. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, but what about, like, states rights and nationalism, economics – Me from the Past, your senior year of high school you will be taught American Government by Mr. Fleming, a white Southerner who will seem to you to be about 182 years old, And you will say something to him in class about states rights. And Mr. Fleming will turn to you and he will say, “A state’s rights to what, sir?” And for the first time in your snotty little life, you will be well and truly speechless [Theme Music] The road to the Civil War leads to discussions of states rights…to slavery, and differing economic systems… Specifically whether those economic systems should involve slavery, and the election of Abraham Lincoln. Specifically how his election impacted slavery, but none of those things would have been issues without slavery. So let’s pick up with the most controversial section of the Compromise of 1850, the fugitive slave law.
|The fugitive slave law is enacted
|The Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed
|Republicans run their first presidential candidate
Now, longtime Crash Course viewers will remember that there was already a Fugitive Slave Law written into the United States Constitution, so what made this one so controversial? Under this new law, any citizen was required to turn in anyone he or she knew to be a slave to authorities. And that made, like, every person in New England into a sheriff, and it also required them to enforce a law they found abhorrent. So, they had to be sheriffs and they didn’t even get little gold badges. Thought Bubble, can I have a gold badge? Oh. Awesome. Thank you. This law was also terrifying to people of color in the North, because even if you’d been, say, born free in Massachusetts, The courts could send you into slavery if even one person swore before a judge that you were a specific slave. And many people of color responded to the fugitive slave law by moving to Canada, which at the time was still technically an English colony, Thereby further problematizing the whole idea that England was all about tyranny and the United States was all about freedom. But anyway, the most important result of the fugitive slave law was that it convinced some Northerners that the government was in the hands of a sinister “slave power.” Sadly, slave power was not a heavy metal band or Britney Spears’s new single or even a secret cabal of powerful slaves, but rather a conspiracy theory about a secret cabal of pro-slavery congressmen. That conspiracy theory is going to grow in importance, but before we get to that let us discuss Railroads. Underrated in Monopoly and underrated in the Civil War. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble.
The Impact of Railroads
Railroads made shipping cheaper and more efficient and allowed people to move around the country quickly, and they had a huge backer (also a tiny backer) in the form of Illinois congressman Stephen Douglas, who wanted a transcontinental railroad because he felt it would bind the union together at a time when it could use some binding, and he figured it would go through Illinois, which would be good for his home state. But there was a problem: To build a railroad, the territory through which it ran needed to be organized, ideally as states, and if the railroad was going to run through Illinois, then the Kansas and Nebraska territories would need to become state-like. So Douglas pushed forward the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act formalized the idea of popular sovereignty, which basically meant that (white) residents of states could decide for themselves whether the state should allow slavery. Douglas felt this was a nice way of avoiding saying whether he favored slavery; Instead, he could just be in favor of letting other people be in favor of it. Now you’ll remember that the previously bartered Missouri Compromise banned slavery in new states north of this here line. And since in theory Kansas or Nebraska could have slavery if people there decided they wanted it under the Kansas-Nebraska Act despite being north of that there line, this in practice repealed the Missouri Compromise. As a result, there was quite a lot of violence in Kansas, so much so that some people say the Civil War really started there in 1857. Also, the Kansas Nebraska Act led to the creation of a new political party: The Republicans. Yes, those Republicans. Thanks, Thought Bubble. So, Douglas’s law helped to create a new coalition party dedicated to stopping the extension of slavery.
- 1850 – Fugitive slave law is enacted
- 1854 – Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed
- 1856 – Republicans run their first presidential candidate
To conclude, we can see that the road to the Civil War was paved with controversial laws and political movements, all stemming from the issue of slavery and its impact on states rights and economic systems. The events that unfolded in the 1850s only served to exacerbate these tensions and eventually led to the outbreak of the Civil War. The history of this era is a stark reminder of the deep-seated divisions that can arise from moral, political, and economic conflicts, and how they can ultimately lead to a nation divided.
Clip video in engleza despre asta, numit : Alegerile din 1860 și drumul spre dezbinare: curs accidental Istoria SUA #18
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