The American Civil war is known for its violence and destruction, the proverbial black eye on this great country. Many educators from the around the United States will use textbooks that only reference slavery as the lone cause for enticing such a nasty war. Why did nearly 750,000 (Coclanis, P. A., & Engerman, S. L. 2013) people need to die to prove the point that the south was not going to let the north run their states? Many textbooks and articles are written with the shallow and unchallenged premise that the Civil War occurred because slavery was practiced in the south and the push to abolish it left the north with no other option but to take arms against the south. This is a near sighted view of the Civil War and is overlooking a couple of key issues: Finance and States’ rights being two of them.
In 1860 both President Lincoln and the slaveholders knew that an amendment to the constitution that would put an end to slavery would never pass. The votes needed to pass such an amendment would not allow the north to attain the 2/3 vote needed to pass such a rule. Although this was the case for the current America, secession was being talked about by the south. The south could begin to see what was about to happen. The south through taxes and tariffs provided nearly 90% of the Federal Reserve (Edwards, S. 2011). So Lincoln had to act to swiftly to prevent the south from pulling its 6 states from the union thus creating a vacuum of a large amount of funding from the US. Since there was no income tax in 1800’s all money supporting the American government was paid for by taxing either specific items (sugar, molasses, Tea) or by paying people to ship things out of the country (Exporting). The south was providing the World with its goods such as cotton and tobacco, it accounted for nearly two thirds of U.S. Exports. Which also meant it was paying two thirds of the taxes applied to goods being exported from the U.S. Since the south wasn’t as populated as the north this roughly equaled that 18.5 percent of Americans were paying three times of their share of the federal governments costs (Edwards, S. 2011). This is one problem that Lincoln was going to have to face. Could the US continue to pursue its goals of Manifest Destiny without the funding from the South? For that matter could the US/North survive without that money?
All this would start to come to a head in 1860 when Lincoln and congress would start to push for new states and territory to be added to the union. The only problem for the south is that these states would either be free of slavery or be able to vote on the right to have slaves. Since the territories and states would be created from a large chunk of land purchased from Mexico in the Hidalgo-Guadalupe Treaty which were slave free lands the south was about to be looking at having one third of the seats in congress. If this was to happen the south would be looking down the barrel at the end of slavery due to the two thirds needed to abolish slavery in America with a amendment to the constitution. So the south would have no other option than to take up arms. This could have been over any right provided from the constitution. The south funded the government and when the north didn’t like the way the south handled business they found a way to get the votes needed.
In 1860 the overriding issue of the day was not slavery it was secession. In the south the numbers can point to the facts of slavery not being the main cause. In 1860 families owning more than fifty slaves numbers less than 10,000; those owning more than a hundred was less than 3,000. So the thought of the whole south being large plantations with everyone owning slaves is a bad picture to paint. The typical Southern slave owner possessed one or two slaves and the typical white southern male owned none. Only five percent of southerners even owned slaves. In today’s standards that would…