Factors that Led the Southern States to Break from the Union
There are many important stages in the American history time line development. Each of the date has a tendency to manifest in a number of consequences, which are likely to be seen even in the contemporary society. The events of the American history that determined the course of the history in the 19th century are of a great importance for the further country’s development. Thus, the years of 1846 – 1860 played a vitally important role in the formation of the American society and democracy, having pushed the country from a lifestyle that was characterized as a harsh one. Thus, the aim of this paper is to investigate the key events that took place in the period mentioned above and determine the most significant turning points that contributed to the break of the Southern States from the Union. These events resulted in the Civil War, which appeared to be an aftermath of the numerous situations and changes that were to turn the course of history in an absolutely opposite direction.
One of the main factors that impacted the break of the Southern States from the Union was a sharp contrast between national identities that were proper to the North and the South. This opposition resulted, as it was mentioned, in the Civil War. The most important thing for historians, however, consists in the task to understand not why the South was separated, but why the North decided to resist separation. This decision was the result of northerners’ identity as a democratic and free nation, as well as the result of their intention to maintain the ‘law and order’. In order to support this opinion, it is necessary to investigate the newspapers of that time, which denote the situation of the country and the break itself.
The next category of reasons, which have traditionally been discussed by American historians, consists in the conflict of economic interests of the two areas. One part of the investigators believe that there were many specific issues that divided the North and the South: the problm of finance and taxes, tariffs and internal improvements federal subsidies, domestic trade, etc. At the same time, slavery itself was an economic problem. It was a system of work that represented a huge investment of the southern capital, so the southerners could not agree on the immediate abolition of slavery, which the northern abolitionists sought. Another part of the investigators have a conviction that the problem of Homestead made a great contribution to the break. Unfortunately, the majority of historians do not pay attention to it; however, they claim that it is closely associated with the struggle of farmers demanding land for the free West.
Another reason of the break was connected with the contrast between the cultures, which characterized the South, on the one hand, and the North, on the other hand. The collision as a conflict between two cultures, as a consequence, is another explanation for the break from the Union and the reason for the Civil War to start. In other words, the South was absolutely opposed to the culture that was ordinary for the North.
Since the days of Jefferson, the South has embodied the rural and agrarian society virtues: wisdom and integrity of strong landowners, yeomen, hospitality, good manners and paternalism, stability and well-organized conservative rural life. Oppositely to the South, the North has always been seeking the industrial progress and the changes, which had been expected to result in a number of reforms. Cultural differences rose to the shield and proclaimed superiority of one area over another. In the perception of those who lived in the South, the northerners seemed backward, semi-civilized, far removed from the ideals of harmony of the 19th century. They also believed that the North was a hotbed of so-called radical ‘isms’ (abolitionism, feminism, socialism, etc.), Puritan hypocrisy and rude upstarts. Each factor has become a cultural stereotype and made it the object of their hatred.
The scholars who used to invvestigate the African-American history, and who hold the left or Marxist views have a tendency to stress that the Potomac River still divides the country into those who stood for and against the Union (Anderson 212). American history, in accordance with this opinion, cannot be understood without taking into account the facts connected with slavery, which formed the country’s economy, its impact on politics, culture and its fundamental principles. Its economic power gave rise to political planters, occupying the presidency positions senators and congressmen, Supreme Court judges. Numerous scholars strongly condemned the attempt to idealize the revisionists’ view that there is a special institution of the South. The Confederation and its symbols should be discussed here. However, the debates and discussions which have been going on in American historiography promoted the start of new, more interesting studies on the factors that contributed to the break of the South and the North from the Union.
The Civil War, which was a result of the break of the North and the South from the Union, was recognized to be a catastrophe that was more terrible than the war with an external enemy. It affected all the people in the country, split families and even influenced the identity of the people (Hurt 729).
The break of the North and the South from the Union led to a conflict that had a tendency to represent the more versatile series of forces, which possessed different interests and ideals. Apparently, it is worth considering a few more reasons that served as a cause of the break of the South and the North from the Union (Herman 12). A certain amount of them consisted in the purely economic and material interests; thus, they certainly played a significant role. Looking at this phenomenon from the light of the civilizational approach, it helps understand that the fault of society happens often along with the class lines, but according to ideological positions, beliefs and attitudes (Herman 14).