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The True Cause of the American Civil War

Hello Tedsters, I'm a student of an Advanced Placement United States History Class or APUSH in short. Recently for the class, we had to write an essay about the Civil War, and it's inevitability due to extremism and failure of leadership. We discussed how the cause for the Civil War was not merely slavery and definitely not only slavery. Our teacher also emphasized that we should "DIG DEEPER". One of the few examples she gave us was; the riots of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry led to the South's nervousness and responded to Lincoln's victory in the Election of 1860 by establishing the Confederacy and proposing secession.
One of my arguments was that the South wanted economic freedom to continue their agricultural lives, practice of slavery and trade with Britain. I agreed with a comment stating this was a Second Revolutionary War, due to the South desiring to escape the economic restrictions from the North (such as the Tariffs), like how the colonies did from Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

Now when I look back to the regular history classes I've taken in the past years, I thought to myself, why isn't this taught in basic classes? Must a student be eligible to be in an AP class or wait till College just to realize history isn't that vague, and everything taught in the textbooks isn't exactly true but merely one of the many perspectives on a single issue? So I have two main questions:

Why isn't this concept of thinking taught in basic classes in middle school or high school? Is it because there's a fear that students can't learn or understand such concepts? Isn't it a bit problematic that while I can argue a couple of deep causes to the Civil War, a few of my friends believe and only believe the true cause is slavery?

My second question is:

What do you think the true cause of the Civil War was? If you’re going to say without an explanation, slavery and only slavery, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to dig deeper or at least explain why.


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    Jan 3 2013: You have become aware of the failings of our public school system to provide thoughtful insights into history and a number of other subjects. In answer to the cause of the Civil War in the most simple terms is power and greed (money). Southern cotton could be sold directly to English mills at a greater profit then to the NE Mills. The north had control in Government and blocked that action. Now here is where it gets interesting. It is impossible to get the people behind a war because of cotton profits or the bottom line of Boston mills. The cause for war has to be noble. What was more noble then freeing captives of foreign wars that were forced into slavery in this country (and the source of economic power of the southern plantations). It was a win-win for the North. The real reason for almost every war in recorded history is for power or wealth. We see today, war like activities all over the world. Many are "religious wars". What is more noble then fighting for God? Vast resources and controlled population gains were just spoils. No, just the reason.
    • Jan 8 2013: I highly agree with your point, that wealth and economic power is a huge cause behind many wars. Without economic power, nations would lack the substances needed to preserve their power. Also, I had a debate a while ago with my friends on "religious wars" and their justly cause for completing such a honorable and holy deed. Wars in general do not live up to the justly purposes they claim.

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