The Origins of the Civil War

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Abstract

Although President Abraham Lincoln recognized slavery as the cause of the Civil War, historians have offered a multitude of interpretations. Some have emphasized differences between the sections, arguing that North and South were culturally distinct from each other or possessed clashing economic interests that led to war. In addition, scholars have studied those people in each section – abolitionists in the North and fire-eaters in the South – who pointed out and even exacerbated the differences and tensions between the sections. Other historians have seen the conflict between the sections as fundamentally political. Political issues, especially concerning the territories in the 1850s, accelerated hostilities between the sections. Politicians failed to avert the crisis, and may even have contributed to bringing it on. Fundamentally, however, slavery remains at the root of many of these cultural, economic, and political issues.

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