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Slavery and the Civil War - US History Essay Example

3 pages
598 words
Boston College
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There is a general consensus among the public that the civil war was fought to end slavery. Some materials suggest otherwise. This paper will review a quote by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 in which he says, If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if could save by freeing some and leaving some, I would also do it. In the quote, he outlines that his main agenda was to save the Union and not to end slavery and if he could save the Union without ending slavery, he would do that.

The quote from Abraham Lincoln shows that slavery was just another casualty of the war. The fact that slavery was a threat to the existence of the Union made slavery a high priority target by the union. According to (Holt, 393), the majority of the slave owners wielded a lot of power and basically had control of the federal government. In order to weaken their power and influence, the Union had to attack the source of their power, and that is slavery.

The issue of antislavery had originated from the question of the newly acquired states. There was the question of whether the new states acquired from Mexico would be slave states or they would be Free states. At the end of the day, the American-Mexican war acted as a good rallying tool for antislavery (Corbett, 392). Members of the free soil party had no intention for the abolition of slavery in the states which it already existed; they rather advocated for the western States to be kept free of slavery so that when the white workers from the new states became part of America, they wouldnt have to compete with the slaves. Slavery contributed a great deal to the Civil War as described by (Goodheart, 11). According to the writer, the Unions infantry was made up of volunteers with antislavery sympathies. A fact that forced Maj. Gen Butler to accept fleeing slaves from his enemies territories. Slavery was not the main reason for the war, but it certainly contributed a lot to it.

The issue of whether to support or be against slavery had been avoided for quite some time. In the 1850s a bill was passed that would grant the new states the power to choose for themselves whether they would be a free-soil state or a slave state. This meant that the majority of those states would decide. This decision was reached so as to save the Union and avoid direct conflict with the South.

Opposing opinion

As much as I believe abolishing slavery was not the only reason the Civil War was fought. The presence of slaves among the ranks of the Union soldiers made the abolition of slavery a just course. As much as Abraham Lincoln had made it clear that his intention is not to abolish slavery, his soldiers were fighting for this purpose. Majority of the slaves were joining for this purpose because they believed they had a reason to be free.The laws of the land at the time supported slavery, and the reason for the Southern States wants to secede so as to continue with slavery. Therefore it can be argued that the Civil War was fought because of slavery.


Work Cited

Holt, Michael Fitzgibbon. The political crisis of the 1850s. John Wiley & Sons, 1978.

Goodheart, Adam. "How Slavery Really Ended in America." The New York Times Magazine (2011).

Corbett, P. Scott, et al. US History. OpenStax College, Rice University, 2014.


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