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Causes of the Civil War

            The failure of the Unites States to deal with the issue of slavery may have been the single most important issue leading to the Civil War. Between 1790 and the Civil War, plantation agriculture expanded, therefore, so did the demand for slaves. Almost 1/3 of all Southern families owned slaves. That number approached 1/2 in South Carolina and Mississippi. The total number of slave owners was around 385,000. The Southern economy was almost entirely based on slaves and the slave trade. More money was invested in slavery than machinery, as opposed to the North, which was going through an industrial revolution. However, not everyone was in favor of slavery. Many wanted to abolish the practice, including many whites. Some of the most famous abolitionists were Fredrick Douglas, who founded the anti-slavery newspaper The North Star n 1847, William Lloyd Garrison, who began the anti-slavery society Liberator in 1821, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. Some believed that it would take bloodshed to root out the evil slavery. On August 22, 1831, Nat Turner and a group of slaves from Southampton, Virginia escaped and killed 60 white men. Within 48 hours, the slaves were captured. Nat Turner and his followers were tried and executed. Another instance of slave rebellion was the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom in a St. Louis city court in 1846. They had lived with their owner in the free territory of Wisconsin for many years. The odds were in their favor, but 5 out of the 6 judges who voted on the case were pro-slavery Southerners. The destruction of slavery in the United States was the driving ambition of abolitionist John Brown. On October 16, 1859, he and an "army" of 20-something men seized the federal arsenal at Harper's Valley, Virginia, present day West Virginia. The operation Brown envisioned as being the first blow against slavery was over in 36 hours.

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