Causes of the Civil War

By: Evelyn Tanumai


In the beginning, before the Civil War happened there were important events that had happened first that caused the Civil War. During this time period slavery was a main problem. In addition, throughout history the government tried not to cause problems especially war. But because of these events and other problems the Civil War broke out.

Missouri Compromise (1820)

The Missouri Compromise was made in the 1820s. It was a compromise between slave and free state. Missouri wanted to be part of the union, but Congress knew that adding a new state would unbalance the free and slave state. So, the 36° 30´ latitude line was made right underneath the state of Missouri. it was agreed on that any state that was above the line it was known as the free state unless it was changed otherwise. In addition, any state below the line it was agreed on that it was made as an slave state. In the end Missouri did though became a slave state, as Maine entered as an free state.

Compromise of 1850

The Compromise 1850 was when California enter the union as a free state. Though letting California entering as a free state would also upset the balance between the slave and free states and that this may cause the Civil War. The Mexican Cession was divided into two territories known as New Mexico and Utah. So congress still had to deal with whether New Mexico and Utah be considered as an slave or free state and was going to be decided on by the popular sovereignty. Furthermore, Texas agreed on giving up some of their own land for help form the government in their debt from the independent republic. In the end not only the compromise over ruled the slave trade established a new slave law.

Fugitive Slave Act (1850)

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed on September 18, 1850. The act was a dispute between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern free-soilers. It was a crime if you were caught helping a runaway slave. It also allowed slaveholders to take any suspicious fugitives to the U.S commissioners. Many slaves went to Canada in fear of being caught, including that they couldn’t defend themselves in court. This act upset the northerners because they didn’t like the thought of a trail without a jury and that it was wrong too. However, Northerners try to peacefully did opposed the act, but didn’t turn out the way they wanted it to. From the event that happened in 1854 about Anthony Burns it actually made people want to join the abolitionist cause.

Uncle Tom's Cabin is Published (1852)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published on 1852. The main character was a slave named Tom, and he is taken from his wife and is sold to a cruel slaveholder named Simon Legree. Where Legree had Tom beaten to death from his rage. It was a famous fictional anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The novel told people and made them realize the real ugly truth about slavery. Stowe moved to Ohio where she then met a fugitive slave and learned the real truth behind slavery. So when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed Stowe was angered by this and was inspired to make Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe hoped the her book would educate northerners and hoped made them realize it too. When published the stock prices went up, and more than 2 million copies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin had been sold. Stowe goal was met with the northerners and more people joined the abolitionist cause, but it outraged the South. In 1862 Stowe had a meeting with Abraham Lincoln, which Lincoln thought she was known as quoted, “the little lady who caused the big war.” Stowe’s book is still being read today, and is also used to inform people about the real cruel truth about slavery.

Kansas - Nebraska Act (1854)

On May 30, 1854 the Kansas Nebraska act was passed by congress. This act divided the Louisiana Purchase into two territories and allowed Kansas and Nebraska to decide whether it should allow slavery or not. Stephen Douglas passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he wanted to to get a transcontinental railroad built through the north. The two territories Kansas and Nebraska decided on slavery by popular sovereignty. The act changed the U.S politics by the Republican Party being formed in response. They wanted the decision to be made peacefully, but it ended up starting conflicts between pro-slavery and antislavery groups. Anti-slavery advocates tried moving from the northeast to settle in Kansas which affected the vote in Kansas.

Dred Scott Decision (1857)

Dred Scott was a slave owned by Dr. John Emerson. In the 1830s Emerson had taken Scott to Illinois and the Wisconsin, where he worked as Emerson’s slave. They returned back home to Missouri, when Emerson then died. After, Emerson’s death Scott now belonged to Emerson’s widow. In 1846 Scott sued the Emerson's for his freedom, and his case was taken into Missouri’s state court where he was ruled in favor. Then, in 1857 Scott’s case then went up to the U.S Supreme Court. The court had three main points trying achieving in Scott’s case. First, they had to decide on whether if Dred Scott was a citizen or not. Secondly, they had to figure out if Scott going into a free territory makes him free too. Lastly, the court didn’t have the right to decide if states were free or slave. In the end the court decided to not sue the Emerson because of how Scott was a slave and that he had to be a citizen to be able to sue. In result of this most southerners cheered, but as for northerners they were upset about this decision.


In conclusion the causes of the Civil War main roots was slavery. It involved the North where many didn’t like slavery, and the South where they did like slavery and thought that they couldn’t live without slave labor. A lot of decision were being made on if states were either free or slave states. As new states were entering the union, the government did not want to upset the balance between slave and free states. Through all the event that had happened it seemed that the Civil War could had not been avoided. For example, the event of the Election of 1860 caused the South to Secede from the union and many more example. Therefore, even how hard the government tried not to cause it, the Civil War was not that easy to avoid.
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