What Caused the Civil War

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Learning Ventures:
Gary Parker Schoales


What Caused the Civil War

The time was 4:30 in the morning; the day was April 12, 1861. Cannons from the mainland began to spew fire and lob shells into Fort Sumter--at this early hour just faintly visible on the horizon. America’s terrible Civil War began. When the war finally ended four years later the enslaved were free and the Union was preserved—but at the cost of 600,000 American lives and more than five billion dollars in property damage.

What had caused the Union to split? Who was to blame for the tragedy? Was the war inevitable, or could it have been prevented by more enlightened leadership? Why was it so important to both the North and the South that new territories come into the Union as free or slave states? Why did Northerners believe in the expansion of federal power while the South continued to prefer a state’s rights interpretation of the Constitution? What was it about Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party that made Southerners feel they should secede from the Union, and had every right to do so?

Civil War historians have struggled to answer these very basic questions with differing answers.

Briefly, their conclusions regarding the primary cause of the war seem to fall into these generalizations.

1. Slavery caused the war.

2. States-rights caused the war.

3. Economics caused the war.

4. Conflicting cultural differences caused the war

5. Extremism caused the war.


1.Students will understand the basic causes of the Civil War.

2.Students will come to an individual conclusion of what they believed was the most important cause of the war.

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1 Review

  • 5

    What caused the Civil War

    Posted by Byron Hawkins on Oct 19th 2019

    Thinking strategies, and higher order thinking skills. Thanks

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