Slavery As A Reason Of American Civil War

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After the Revolutionary War, the young United States of America was looking to change its ways. As a now independent Nation, they looked to set their own identity. One of the things they did was end what was known as the African Slave Trade in 1807. The end of the African Slave Trade was unknowingly the first step towards the American Civil War. With the discovery of the new world, all kinds of people traveled to the new Colonies in hopes of becoming wealthy. One of the ways they found they were able to do this was by setting up farms and growing exportable produce. Tobacco was the number one product coming out of the southern states to England and other parts of the world. Initially, large planters used indentured servants from England to tend to the fields. Between the 1650s and 1680s, indentured servants continued to be imported at the rate of some 1,000 per year (Mitchell, 1983). As the servants worked to pay off their debt to the large planters, they would earn their freedom and then find that jobs were tough to come by in America. There were few opportunities after their freedom was earned and they soon found themselves serving as domestic servants and tradesman – sometimes for the same people they had just earned their freedom from. Others were able to become farmhands and laborers working mostly for the large planters, using their acquired skill set from their time as an indentured servant. As Englands employment opportunities increased overseas, English indentured servants became less available in America. As tobacco continued to be the main source of trade for the large planters, and with a rapid reduction of indentured servants, the Chesapeake Colonies (Dominion of Virginia and Province of Maryland) began to shift their workforce from servants to slavery and began using the well-established African Slave Trade. Prior to the Revolutionary War, Great Britain imported African Slaves primarily through the Royal Africa Company. This was an enormous revenue generator for Great Britain as they taxed all imported slaves to the new Colonies. This arrangement worked well mostly for Great Britain for many years until the Revolutionary War began. During the Revolutionary War, the Colonies banned and/or suspended slave trade with Great Britain as one of their first steps to freedom from the Crown. The “non-important” movement was an attempt to cut all economic ties with Britain. After the War, America passed legislation for the government to tax and control the import of slaves to America. In 1807, they passed more legislation and terminated the use of the African Slave Trade. The American people saw the closing of the African Slave Trade as a huge humanitarian accomplishment even though it brought much wealth to the Virginia slave owners, and economical and political power to the southwestern states. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of a new problem. The closing of the African Slave Trade gave way to the American slave trade. Now that no more slaves were being imported, the slaves that were on hand would become a much more valuable asset. After cutting ties from Great Britain, Virginians found themselves with a surplus of slaves after the demand for tobacco had fallen (no more exporting to Britain). As a new means of revenue, they promoted the expansion west to new settlers. Virginians sold the idea that settlers would need American slaves to help cultivate the land to bring profits to the new land owners. One of the largest purchasers of slaves was the southwest. These cotton farmers depended on the slaves to tend to their lands. This expansion increased the price of a slave to an all-time high bringing wealth to the slave owners in Virginia. As the southwestern states became wealthier and more populated, they became the more powerful states in the south. With the election of President Abraham Lincoln, the threat of abolishing slavery was eminent. The southern states felt that if slavery was abolished it would ruin the economy in the south. Not only would the planters lose the labor on their lands but that their lands would become useless with no one to work them. They believed this would not only affect the southern states but the entire countrys banks, stocks, and bonds. The southern states threatened that if any of the upper-southern states didnt succeed with them, they (the upper-southern states) would no longer be allowed to sell their slaves to them – the powerful, wealthy southern landowners. With American slave trading as their main source of revenue, the upper-southern states would have ended up with a surplus of slaves with no one to sell them to. These States, who relied upon and did not have any moral opposition with owning slaves, saw the abolishment of slavery as a huge blow to their way of life. They felt that the only way they could preserve it was to succeeded from the Union – who supported the complete abolishment of slavery. This perceived (and threatened) economic deterioration would ultimately lead Virginia to join the Confederate States. This led to the succession of the south and to the Civil War.

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