Sectionalism formed the basic motivation that ignited and fueled the Civil War,
inarguably the bloodiest war in American history. However, the feud was intensified even further
with westward expansion. Some of the main reasons for the intensified sectionalism in light of
westward expansion were the arguments over whether slavery should be allowed in the newly
acquired western territory, who would be politically dominant in the new states (since political
dominance was in light of whether the northerners or southerners held more states) and
highlighted economic differences (industrialized/manufacturing vs. agrarian society).
Slavery was the main dividing factor between the northern and southern states. One big
issue that arose upon westward expansion was whether or not slavery would be allowed in the
new western territories. A southern rage was ignited when slavery was denied in the new
territory because in light of the Missouri Compromise, they were
to be allowed slavery
in any land underneath the 36°30° line. The denial of slavery in western territory negated that
promise, fueling the separation between the northern and southern states.
Political dominance was based on how many states belonged to which party. In light of
the issue of slavery, rather than referring to a state by political party (Republican state, for
example), they were referred to by whether or not slavery was allowed there (Free state or Slave
state). Whichever side held the most states held the most political prominence, and thus
effectively were able to follow up on their own agenda rather than adhering to the other side’s.
With the addition of new states, competition inflamed to see who would acquire them;
proslavery or antislavery. If the slave owners got a hold of the new states, then their “peculiar
institution” would spread and prosper. If not, the northerners would gain more control and fear
arose that they might end slavery. This lead to many incidents, one of them being “Bloody
Kansas”, a massive fight around the border of Kansas over who would gain dominance in the
new state between northerners and southerners that lead to widespread bloodshed.
Economic differences were highlighted with the di