3 Jul 2022


The tension between the north and south

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The tension between the north and south played a defining role in shaping early American society. This essay discusses how the north and south diverged from one another from the 1790s to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. It will be outlining the specific events that were crucial in causing the tension. Also, the major figures in both the north and south and what specifically they argued about will be highlighted. Moreover, the essay will discuss the political, social, and philosophical differences that emerged between the north and south, explaining why these societies ultimately proved so incompatible. 

The tension started following the provisions of laws prohibiting slavery in its entirety. The North American states wanted the abolition of the slave trade to be carried out while the southern states were adamant and did not want to hear anything of it. Typically, the dwellers in the northern states condemned slavery and held opinions against it mainly because they did not have fields and plantations where the slaves could work. On the other hand, the southern states required massive numbers of slaves who could work in the plantations that were hugely requiring human labor. These differences caused a rift between the two regions with each viewing the other as a rival. The bill on abolition of slave trade was taken to the senate where the division between the northern states and southern states became even bigger. The southern states adamantly held on their view that slavery was important for its development while the northern states condemned the slave trade for being inhuman (Schaller et al., 128). 

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Despite the presentations on the evils of slave trade by people of the northern states, the people living in southern states declared their rights to own slaves and keep their plantations running. Another instigator of tension was the migration of run-away slaves to the northern states where they were promised better terms than whatever they were experiencing at the southern states. However, the differences caused the southern states to see it necessary to break off from the United States since their perceived the election of President Abraham Lincoln as a threat to slavery. Despite the president assuring them that no laws forcing individuals to relinquish slaves would be passed, the southern states were not convinced (Schaller et al., 187). They saw it as being a matter of time and the law would be enacted barring them from owning slaves who had proved instrumental in running and maintaining the plantations from which most of their revenues came from. The tension further worsened with involvement of courts to settle the disputes through the abolitionist movement. However, no fruits were yielded y the efforts at the first instance thus aggravating more people to join in the demonstrations including sections of white men who believed slavery was inhuman. 

Notably, the romanticism era began in this period with conspicuous picture made on the ills of slave trade. The pictures were also depicting the various struggles that the people were going through in abolishing slave trade such as the abolitionist movement. With this in mind, the southern states felt threatened. Through their own representatives, the southern states asked to leave the United States and become an independent state on their own (Bellah, 146). This was profusely rejected with strong opposition by members of the senate emphasizing on the importance of remaining together. This did not satisfy the southern states who now embarked on plans of detaching from the United States as a means of ensuring that they maintained slaves who were running their plantations. Continued activism activities supported by pictures depicting the ills of slave trade brought an awakening to the southern states causing them to start planning for war. In the same manner, the northern states had members who advocated for slave emancipation since slaves were also equal human beings. In due course, the demonstrations became so intense that t nobody could turn a blind eye to the situation. On the other hand, the southern states were busy producing lots of cotton from the slave labor resulting from increased demand on the product. Moreover, the discovery of the cotton spinning, machine made it extremely important to keep hold of slave labor that increased the production tremendously (Collier & Hoeffler 65). In fact, Southern states could hear none of the opinions propagated by the abolitionist movement. Therefore the southern saw it necessary o have their own government run by their own rules especially pertaining slave trade. 

It was during the reign of Abraham Lincoln that tension between the northern and southern states became completely intolerable and therefore a way out had to be invented or else a bloody war would result (Bellah, 261). Therefore, he embarked on assuring the southern states that he would not force anybody to relinquish slaves and issued other statements that indicated that he did not wish to threaten the southern states. Continued escape of slaves from the southern to the northern states made the matter worse as the southern perceived it as a threat. Moreover, better treatment of slaves in the northern states made the people in the southern states to arise and claim back their slaves which were not to be. Therefore, the denial to acquire more slaves further increased the tension. When land was bought in Maine to settle freed slaves, the southern states saw it as the final gesture beyond which they would lose their slaves (Collier & Hoeffler 98). Therefore, they mounted an attack on the foot Sumter officially declaring the commencement of the American civil war. 

In conclusion, various aspects of the tension between the northern states and southern states revolved around slavery. After continued prevention of a conflict, the southern states eventually came forth and attacked fort Sumter thus marking the height of the conflict. 


Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (1998). On economic causes of civil war. Oxford economic papers, 50(4), 563-573. 

Bellah, R. N. (1967). Civil religion in America. Daedalus, 1-21. 

Schaller. M, Shulzinger R & Bezis. J. (2014) American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Context. Oxford University press. 

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