In a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump asked why was there a Civil War? Not as joke, but seriously, why was that war needed? When I was searching through my social media feed, I saw an article from The Hill with that in the head line and immediately thought it was a joke. But unfortunately, it turned out to be true. Trump wanted to know why there was a Civil War. Today I decided it was time to educate the 45th President of the United States as to why there was a Civil War. The answer is quite simple and can be boiled down to two words. Slavery and economy.
From the inception of the United States, slaves and slavery were apart of the formation. Slavery was introduced to the North American continent with the landing of Columbus, with many Native Americans being forced into slavery. With the establishment of the British colonies, slavery was a staple from the 1620’s, with the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade forcibly bringing millions of Africans over. And even after that was outlawed, you still had slave trading happening within the United States with the millions already being held in captivity. Stripped of culture and language, slave families were torn apart and scattered around the South. By the time of the Civil War there were over 4 million souls being held against their will.
The economy of the south was based in agriculture. They were dependent on the world buying the crops that they were producing. Cotton and tobacco were huge money makers for southern plantation owners. The south produced two-thirds of the world’s cotton. They were also crops that demanding a large amount of man power. In an article from the National Parks Service, they sum up the economy in the South in one sentence:
“In 1860, the economic value of slaves in the United States exceeded the invested value of all of the nation’s railroads, factories, and banks combined.”- NPS
The southern economy depended on the slave labor in order to produce its wealth. Take that away and you take away people’s livelihoods. Wrong as it is, who wouldn’t fight for what they believed was theirs? When Lincoln and other abolitionists vowed to put an end to slavery, those who depended on it went nuts. There was no talking about it, there was going to be war. And when Lincoln won the 1860 election, South Carolina ceded from the Union.
Newspapers, pamphlets and books were all written about the evils of slavery and how it should be stopped. Politicians even pushed the issue in Congress. With acts such as the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act, slavery was being confined, but not outlawed. Diplomacy wasn’t going to end slavery. Even with the election of man who had hopes of using diplomacy, it wasn’t going to work. It boiled down to one thing that was going to work that was going to be a war.
Diplomacy didn’t work and it wasn’t going to work. So yes, there were specific reasons that there needed to be a Civil War. And contrary to what someone may think, no matter who was President, the Civil War was going to be a thing. When your way of life is threatened, when your wealth is threatened, when someone is trying to take something away from you, ultimately you will fight to be able to survive.