Sectionalism Civil War Essay Introduction

Sectionalism was in fact a major element of the civil war. At the risk of oversimplifying, the strongest conflict was between the Northeastern industrial states (New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), and the "South,"( basically the 11 states that made up the Confederacy). In addition, there were two other sections: the Midwest, and border states such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri.

President Thomas Jefferson (a Virginian), feared that the Midwestern states (and "Middle South: states such as Tennessee and Mississippi), might try to break away from the 13 colonies and form a connection, either among themselves, along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, or with British Canada over the Great Lakes, and down the St. Lawrence River. That's why he was so eager to purchase New Orleans to mollify them. (He actually made the "Louisiana" purchase.)

Other Southerners initially felt that the "agricultural" (food-producing) Midwest would find common cause with the "agricultural" (cash crop) South against Northeastern industrial and banking interests. In this regard, the Mississippi River might unite the Midwest and South, against the Northeast.

But the building of the Erie canal connecting the Great Lakes and the Hudson River pushed the Midwest agricultural trade to the Northeast. The Midwesterners found that Northeasterners needed more (and paid better for) their wheat than the South, which preferred its own corn. Also, Northeastern woolens suited the cold climate Midwest better than Southern cotton (in the days before central heating).

And Midwesterners felt that southern slave (and cash crop) agriculture undercut their (food) farming practices, and therefore considered the South competitive with, rather than complementary to themselves. Hence, the Midwest ultimately sided with the Northeast in the Civil War.

The rift between slave and free agriculture was particularly acute in the border states, e.g. in Missouri, and in Maryland between the pro-union Piedmont and the pro-slavery Tidewater regions. Most of the above mentioned border states had mini "civil wars" that were resolved in favor of the North. West Virginia "seceded from secession" (Confederate Virginia) and joined the North.

In the end, three regions, the Northeast, Midwest, and border states, plus the isolated western states of California and Oregon joined together and "ganged up" against the 11 Confederate states, thereby giving the civil war its character.

Sectionalism In America Essay



From the start of American Union after the greatest revolution, American coalition struck itself on the disputes over regional favoritism which led to Civil War in a long run. On the inner level U.S. had divided itself on three major regions: West, South and North. Each of those regions had its own principal upon which its support was based. This apparent transition from a National Union to the division was based on the early birth of sectionalism starting from 1820's over large issues associated with growing expansion of the country. Major disputes between each region were craving over slavery, states rights, tariffs and national improvements which ultimately led to development of sectional interest in early 1820's.

The first and the far largest cause of sectionalism evolvement was slavery. Slavery was a dispute between Northern and Southern states from the beginning of the American Union. From the start the questions were plunging over difference of viewpoint of Constitution. They led to development of compromises and later on the limits of the expansion of slavery. Slavery trade had to end in 1808 and presumably it had to die off as the importation of slave supply has blocked. On the other hand, slavery had become a very profitable institution with a development of cotton gin by Eli Whitney. This instrument increased the output of processing cotton by faster separation of seed from cotton. As the prices of cotton sky rocketed from 1815 to 1818, the increased demand of this material was associated with a high European demand after the War of 1812. As a result, the factors contributing to higher processing of cotton expanded the slavery to the new regions of U.S. because the output was increased which led to a higher profits associated with high prices of cotton. Along with expanding slavery the prices on slaves arose. Especially high were the prices on female slaves since they could produce the slaves. The high demand for more slaves on plantation associated with need for work worse to produce cotton turned into the inter slave trade between the states. As the international slave trade was closed inter state slave trade nourished slavery which prevented the death of this institution. The unexpected happened which contradicted believes of founding fathers when slavery expanded to the new regions of U.S. Thomas Jefferson who was one of the founding fathers suggested that slavery was unjustifiable institution, but it couldn't be touched since self-preservation was laid in it (Doc D). Jefferson was...

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