How We Got to the Civil War: Morality vs Constitutionality

Before all of the fighting and all of the drama, slavery was the biggest issue being debated. There was the issue of whether or not it should be added to newly gained territories that we were destined to have. There was also the issue of how potentially freed blacks would be assimilated and welcomed into society. Abolitionists and pro-slavery farmers were constantly trying to justify their side, but were their arguments supported with constitutional facts, or was it basic morals that ended up proving the case?

There is a fine line between constitutionality and morality in the United States because there are many parts of the Constitution that are based off of religious morals. The most immediate example is the fact that the Constitution states that everyone has the right to basic human rights when you are in the United States. It is a fair and fundamentally accurate concept, but it was built off the morals of different religious groups. So when abolitionists fight for the need to emancipate slavery, and support it with everyone has the right to be treated equally, they are really saying, stop slavery because it is the right thing to do. It is a strange concept to grasp, mostly because we usually don’t think of our government as being so opinionated, but it’s true. The government is run off of morals. And it doesn’t just have to do with the Civil War. Morality twisted into government has tons of applications in today’s society, too.

Even though it is more recent, I chose this cartoon one, because I love political cartoons, and two, it speaks directly to the Civil War era. The Democrats during this time, especially the northern ones, had  lower than average morals. They did not want to do things because they were the right thing to do, but they needed to benefit from them. The Republicans needed to be the heroes. They had higher morals, shown in people like Abraham Lincoln, and were willing to fight to prove their point. As the picture shows, neither party looked exceptional to the general public. The Democrats’ low standards were met, but weren’t hard at all to achieve, while the Republicans’ ideals were great in theory, but nearly impossible to reach successfully.

The relationship between morals and constitutionality in the government will always exist. The only thing that changes is whether or not you decide to interpret as such.

Image Source:

Info:                                                                                             American Pageant, 11th edition

One thought on “How We Got to the Civil War: Morality vs Constitutionality

  1. I enjoyed the political cartoon and I liked how you were able to apply it to a situation where it was not directly intended. It will always be dangerous for a group of people to mindlessly follow a document, person, idea, or anything really. The fact that the Constitution allowed itself to be questioned plays a crucial role in its success. The reason rules exist are to provide people with a common set of morals that they are forced to follow, supposedly for the common good.

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