This essay attempts to show the relationship which existed between the slavery and the outbreak of civil war in America. The essay traces the historical relationship between the developments of the slave institution at the same time the outbreak of the civil war. This essay critically draws the relationship between the two processes. The essay purely uses literature review as a form of data collection.
The slavery of Africans in what came to be the United States of America (U.S.A.) started at around the 1630s to 1640s. At this time the colonial masters were very clear on the Africa slaves- they and their generations were to be slaves for life, “Africans--unlike white indentured servants--served their masters for life and that their slave status would be inherited by their children” (Francis, par. 1). The institution of slavery was ended in the of 1860s.legally slavery was ended in the December 1865 through the Thirteenth Amendment of the constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (Francis par. 2).
The Northern and Southern States on Slavery Issue
Francis (2002) divides the slavery era into two: the colonial era slavery (1550 to 1790) and the American independence era (up to the civil war) slavery. Before the independence slavery was exercised in all the American colonies and as such it was not an issue being wholly accepted. After the independence there was a drastic change of views from the northern states. The Northern states saw slavery as contradicting the ideals of revolution and started a campaign which was aimed at slave emancipation. The number of slaves in the Northern States was quite small, around 3,000 by 1820, and fortunately the economies of those states did not rely much on the slaves unlike the southern states whose economy was chiefly dependent on the slaves. It is said that in the Northern States there were enough white men who could do the jobs being done by the slaves and as such they wanted the slaves freed to avoid any competition over the jobs (Francis, 2002).
The southern states presented a complete opposite picture. The slave population in the south was quite large. The southerners did not believe in the emancipation of the slaves as they saw this as a threat to the survival of the white people. Apart from this prejudice the southerners held, the slaves to them were a very asset: the southern economy was purely dependent on the slaves. The southern economy was majorly dependent on agricultural cash crops which the slaves grew. Generally, the southerners did not share the same opinion as the Northerners that the white men could do the same jobs as the slaves. This clearly drew a sharp lien between the Northerners and the Southerners on the issue of slavery.
Slaves as Very Significant Assets to the Southerners
It should be noted that the Congress passed a legislation to end the transatlantic trade which supply slaves because of the inhuman associated with this trade. This led to a shortage in the availability of slaves at the same time made the slaves more valuable. The discovery of the machine which could easily remove the seeds of cotton from the pods particularly the short staple cotton species made the slaves more valuable. More land was cleared in large scale for the short staple plantation. This led to more wealth streaming in to the southerners because cotton was a major cash crop at that time. The long staple cotton species could only grow along the coast but unlike the short species which could easily grow inland. The only challenge for the short staple species was that isolating the seeds from the cotton pods took a lot of time but now this was solved by the machine which had been invented.
By 1860 one half of all the southerners were slaves. The slave holding families were very influential; on the political stance of the South which reflected a common stance of, “controlling slaves and assuring an adequate supply of slave labor” (Francis, par. 6). The southern valued the slaves very much and enacted laws which ensured that the slaves were not enlightened and remained slaves forever. Concerning the slaves, Francis (2002) wrote this of the southerners:
They deeply believed in the Southern way of life, of which slavery was an inextricable part. They also were convinced that Northern threats to undermine slavery would unleash the pent-up hostilities of 4 million African American slaves who had been subjugated for centuries. (Francis, par. 10)
It clear that slaves had become very significant to the southerners and their economy and thus existence depended on the existence of the slave institution. Without the slaves, the large plantations of cotton, tobacco and other cash crops could only reduce to nothing because the white men could not work on the plantations. This meant that anything which could oppose slavery was in for the biggest opposition ever from the southern states.
The Election of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was a republican from Illinois. The Northerners and specifically the republicans were opposed to slavery. According to Francis (2002), the southerners feared Abraham so much that not even a single vote was casted in his favor from the southern states. They feared that he was going stop the slave institution once elected as the president of the United States of America. He won the presidency due to the overwhelming Electoral College vote from the Northern states. This was a very clear indication that the southerners were a minority and there vote did not matter. Despite the president assuring them that his mission was to avoid the expansion of slavery and protection of slave where it existed, the southerners were too afraid: they economy was in danger and they stood to protect their economy by ensuring that slavery went on. The only way out for the Southerners was to recede from the Union which was against the constitution and the Northern States on their part had to stop this such that the union could be preserved. This inevitably led to the civil war.
Slavery was quite important to the Southerners. Unlike the northern economy, the southern economy purely depended on the slaves. Their emancipation meant that the southern economy could be brought to a stop. The election of a republican president in 1860 made this fact more real. The election showed that the southern were minorities and even their vote really did not matter. This made them to go to war with the northern states in order to avoid the possibility of slave emancipation.