Causes Of American Civil War

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Causes of American Civil War

Causes of American Civil War


The Civil War remains the bloodiest conflict in American history and one of the most far-reaching in its effects. Only the Revolutionary War and World War II are comparable. The Civil War preserved the Union, ended slavery, and set the stage for at least a tentative acceptance of African Americans as full citizens. It also culturally altered the United States from a relatively loose confederation of states into a single nation. The American Civil War raged between the northern and southern states from 1861 to 1865. The total number of dead on both sides—620,000—marks the conflict as the bloodiest in American history. However, the aspect of the war that is of particular concern to libertarians is its impact on liberty. The Civil War ironically represents the simultaneous culmination and repudiation of the principles of the American Revolution

Before the war, the United States, already one of the world's most prosperous countries, possessed one of the most limited governments. There were only two sources of national revenue: a low tariff and the sale of public lands. These income sources had been more than adequate to cover the minuscule peacetime budgets, which peaked at $74.2 million in 1858. That amount translates into less than 2% of the economy's total output. The national debt stood at a modest $65 million, an amount less than annual outlays. Thus, most Americans paid no taxes whatsoever to federal officials directly, and their only regular contact with any representative of the central authority was the U.S. Post Office. This paper discusses the Causes of the American Civil War such as Slavery, "Bleeding Kansas", John Brown's Raid, and Election of 1860.


The one great blight on the American landscape was black chattel slavery. Although it was finally abolished during the Civil War—a triumph for free institutions that cannot be overrated—in other respects the American polity reversed direction. The war did not merely crush the aspirations of white Southerners for self-determination; it, like all wars, also brought in its train a massive increase in government power. Furthermore, postwar retrenchment failed to return the government's size and scope to prewar levels. Indeed, some argue that the Civil War, rather than the New Deal or some other watershed, marks the decisive turning point in American history with respect to the growth of government.

The war involved two central governments, Union and Confederate, whose policies were in many respects mirror images of each other. Both imposed internal taxes to cover the war's astronomical costs—the first such taxes Americans had paid to any central authority in nearly 40 years. By 1865, the Union budget had risen to more than 20% of the economy's total output. A vast array of national excise, sales, license, stamp, and inheritance taxes required an extensive Internal Revenue bureaucracy. More portentous was the first national income tax. Yet all the Union taxes combined were sufficient to cover no more than about one-fifth of the war's monetary ...
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