Who Started It?

It’s easy to forget to look at the civil war from both sides, especially when we live in Chicago.  Reading primary sources and other historians help us see different point of view, but it is still hard to every get a concrete answer to the question: Who started the civil wer?  Is it the North, who forced their beliefs on the South?  Or is it the South, who made a radical change by seceding?

There are countless moments that can point to either the North or the South being at fault.  Can we even determine who made the first act of aggression at For Sumpter?  The North sent down their troops “peacefully” and the South stood up for themselves by kicking the North out.  Is there really anything wrong with that?

By looking at blame as a spectrum, it’s easier to pinpoint the cause of the civil war.  It was not solely the North or South’s fault, it was a common mentality on both sides.  The distrust of the other party.  It was the lack of national parties that knit the country together.  John Green even said, “The North continued to fear that the country was being controlled by the slaveholding South,”  (crash course #20).  A country cannot govern itself when half of the country doesn’t trust it’s other half.  It’s impossible.

The cause of the civil war was not one event, it was not the moral differences regarding racism, it wasn’t even Lincoln moving the Union army to Fort Sumter.  It was actually a distrust and paranoia shared by both sides.  The South seceded because they thought they would better be able to protect their rights.  The north was angered any time a Southerner won office.  They weren’t thinking straight and instead of looking at all that the North and the South shared, they focused on their differences and the reasons why the country would fail.  The pride, paranoia, and distrust built during the half a  century leading to war and was all let loose by the first gunshot.

American Pageant Version 11

6 thoughts on “Who Started It?

  1. I really do like you take on this, and I really do agree. The war was the fault of both sides, and the pride and paranoia of both the North and South caused the downfall of the Union.

  2. This is a really good take on the overheard “whose fault is it” question that gets answered rather bluntly most of the time. I really like how you answered in a way that didn’t say it was both of the sides’ faults as much as it was both of the sides’ sentiments. I like how you sort of proposed the idea that both sides were already in conflict with each other even before the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

  3. This makes a lot of sense to me, because no matter how much we argue, no one can deny that both sides were truly at fault. I like how you incorporated the different views that were present in both sides. There was definitely pride and paranoia which the John Green quote you listed sums up completely. Its true also that it was building up, Fort Sumter was only a medium through which everything else happened, but war had started long before that.

  4. I think this makes a lot of sense like Sobia pointed out that the different points of view were the cause of the war and not just one side. The fact that the paranoia and distrust built up for so long before the actual war was already a battle being fought, just not physically. The first gunshot was last drop in the bucket that tipped it over and made all the water spill, and it was neither JUST the North or South’s fault. The differences and previous turmoil, as you said, were coming from both sides and neither one was completely at fault for the start of the war.

  5. I like the way you approached the question of who’s fault the war was. I guess i haven’t thought about it this way before. I completely agree, the North and the South were focused on their differences rather than what they shared and “talking it through”. The South and the North definitely “shared” the blame for the war. The build-up of disagreements and quick fixes to the issue of racial discrimination can be attributed to both the actions of the North and the South.

  6. I like how you saw it as a spectrum, as you mentioned. I think it’s super important to remember that life is not in black and white, and I like how you represented it in your post.

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