Civil War was the Westward
Many historians argue that the catalyst for the civil war was the westward expansion of slavery. In 1845, after the United States annexed it the year before, Texas officially became a state- a slave state. The addition of a slave state allowed the Lone Star Republic into the Union. As a result of Texas becoming a state, the Mexican-American War broke out. After the war, the United States bought a massive amount of land from Mexico. The land later became parts of California and Texas. In the late 1840s the California gold rush began. This was a leading force in westward expansion, as it rose the population of California to nearly 100,000.
The compromise of 1850 allowed California to become a free state, allowed the fate of Utah and New Mexico to be left to popular sovereignty, amongst other things. This is just one example of the constant attempts to keep the peace in the U.S. but unfortunately, the attempts were useless, as the constant push of slavery to the west, left the Union increasingly more unsatisfied. As the United States was already weak, it never stood a chance against the overwhelming controversy that would spur from every small decision made, and the long list of events in which states argued back and forth over whether a state should be free or not led to the Civil war.Actions taken to keep the peace between the North and the South only created more tension between them.
Every time a slave state was created, a free state was created with it. This, however, did not solve the problem, it only pushed it further to its breaking point. For example, when Texas was created as a slave state, Iowa and Wisconsin were brought into the Union. At this point in time, there was equality in the amount of free states and slave states until California became a state in 1850;however, sometimes the inclusion or exclusion of slavery made sense. Texas had very fertile farmland, land, and the state would likely rely on agriculture for income. I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world. The best land, the best prospects for health I ever saw, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country here to settle. -David Crockett, 1836. The constant back and forth only led to more disgruntled citizens on both sides.
The problem with postponing the problem was that both people from the North and South were becoming impatient and wanted their way; before the Civil War even started, tensions became so high many from both sides felt the need to insight violence. Most notably, Bleeding Kansas/John Brown’s Raid. I have only a short time to live, only one death to die, and I will die fighting for this cause. There will be no peace in this land until slavery is done for. -John Brown, 1856. (nellaware.com)
The tug back and forth, rather than slavery itself, was the biggest reason for the Civil War. The Civil War had other contributing factors such as several weak leaders in a row, and persecution against minorities. In 1845, John O’Sullivan, a journalist, referred to westward expansion as, manifest destiny when he wrote, our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us, (collegeboard.org) and this led to a general outlook throughout the United States that westward expansion was imminent so any means of doing so were justified; even if it meant forcing natives out of the way or forcing Mormons westward due to religious intolerance.
This may have also contributed to the Civil War; however, the determination to gain more land could be described as just the tip of the iceberg compared to the looming problem of whether slavery should be included in these new territories and the oncoming flood of economical and ethical debates. The civil war may have had these factors thrown in, but nothing put as much strain on the United States as slavery.In conclusion, the Civil War was brought on by oppression from both sides, soft leaders, and a very toxic mindset from the entire country, but nothing even remotely compares to the impact of slavery expansion.
The United States Government’s constant attempts to make both sides content rather than focusing on underlying problems was their mistake and the country’s focus on what they felt was right without trying to rationalize with the opposing view was equally to blame. While the North’s ethical reasons to stop the spread of slavery were valid, so were the South’s economic reasons to keep it. Overall, the controversy sparked by the westward expansion of slavery was the driving factor for the civil war.