Causes of the Civil War – 9: The Debate Over the War’s Inevitability
Slave Auction

This post concludes a series exploring Causes of the Civil War. A review of the literature reveals – not surprisingly – a lack of agreement over whether the American Civil War was inevitable. Given the fact that it did occur, the question under consideration might be better stated as “at what point in time” did […]

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Causes of the Civil War – 8: The Influence of the Individual
Edmun Ruffin

This post continues a series on exploring Causes of the Civil War. ___________________ Civil War scholar Gabor Boritt posits a fascinating theory that the impact of an individual can, in fact, be more influential in the determination of history’s direction than the long confluence of time.[i] “…It may be declared with confidence that a giant […]

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Causes of the Civil War – 7: Political Discord, Slavery, and the Fight for Political Control
Slave sale poster

Political discord represents yet another candidate for the war’s cause. Late historian William E. Gienapp (pictured right) suggests that “however much social and economic developments fueled the sectional conflict, the coming of the Civil War must be explained ultimately in political terms, for the outbreak of war in April 1861 represented the complete breakdown of the American political system. As such, the Civil War constituted the greatest single failure of American democracy.”[i]

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Causes of the Civil War – 6: The Contribution of Constitutional Ambiguity
Constitution

This post continues the series Causes of the Civil War.
Historian Gabor S. Boritt asserts that the American Constitution’s “fundamental ambiguity” on a number of matters involving slavery contributed to the Constitutionsectional controversy that stimulated the growing conflict between the North and the South.[i]

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Causes of the American Civil War – 5: The Rise of Sectional Disputes
Anthony burns

This post continues the series on Exploring Causes of the Civil War. ___________________ Sectional disputes rose and ebbed numerous times in the years before the war. Modernization created social tensions because, as pointed out by James McPherson, “not all groups in American society participated equally in the modernizing process or accepted the values that promoted […]

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Causes of the American Civil War – 1
Image of slaves on Smith's Plantation

To celebrate the opening of Wig-Wags.com, I’m republishing a  series of posts on the much debated topic of the causes of the American Civil war. Let today’s post serve as its introduction. I’ll attempt in the series to address two questions. The first is whether economic interests, political agitation, and the cultural differences between North […]

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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 7 The Deed

This post completes the series, “The Sacking of Lawrence May 21, 1856.” Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here, and Part 5 here, Part 6 here. Free-State men wounded Douglas County sheriff Samuel J. Jones when he returned to Lawrence to serve arrest warrants in the spring of 1856, […]

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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 6 The Wakarusa War

David Potter suggests that much of the discord between Kansans and Missourians was less about slavery and more about land claims.(i) The territory had not yet completed land surveys even six months after it opened for settlement so people squatted on land they wanted. Disputes over those claims, largely between Missourian and new Kansan settlers, […]

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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 5 Beecher's Bibles

The potential for violence after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and indeed episodes of violence, increased on the border between Missouri and Kansas as both Free Soiler and pro-slavery factions began actively arming themselves. An agent of the New England Emigrant Aid Society in Kansas, Charles L. Robinson, requested with some urgency a shipment of […]

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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 4

The actual number of free-state settlers that made it to Kansas was far more modest than the expectations set in the press but the perception was in the public psyche. When the Kansas Territory’s first governor, Andrew Reeder, called for elections of the Kansas Territorial Legislature on March 30, 1855, pro-slavery Missourians crossed the border […]

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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 1

One of the most surprising things I learned from reading Michael F. Holt’s exceptional book, The Political Crisis of the 1850’s, was that the “Sacking of Lawrence” was not the murderous affair I had always thought it was. It led to further research on my part and the realization that I was guilty of combining […]

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The Compromise of 1850: Effective Political Action or Forecast of Disaster?

Thanks to everyone that has participated in the Compromise of 1850 Poll going on here. If you haven’t voted, please do! To expand the discussion, let me share my perspective on the question I raised, whether The Compromise of 1850 was an effective political action or a forecast of disaster. Michael F. Holt makes an […]

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On Racism in the Antebellum North – 3 – Lincoln

Tonight I wrap up a short series of posts dealing with the topic of racism in the Antebellum North. In post 2, I discussed Stephen A. Douglas’ markedly white supremacist views in his debate against Abraham Lincoln in Ottawa, Illinois on August 21, 1858. Such open discussion of racial inequality is admittedly shocking to me, […]

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On Racism in the Antebellum North – 2 – Douglas

I recently had the opportunity to listen to a performance of the first four debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. There is no better example of the Northern Antebellum perception of the black man than in the words of Douglas during the first of those debates held on August 21, 1858 in Ottawa, […]

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