Was the Civil War Inevitable?

Was the Civil War Inevitable?

The Civil War has been studied more than any other event in American History.  One reason for the enduring interest in this war most likely lies in the fact that the conflict pitted Americans against Americans. It should therefore come as no surprise that one of the most debated questions in American history has been,  “Was the Civil War Inevitable?”


This essay will require you to respond to the question stated above.  Your discussion will be based on the following readings and map analysis.  Use the information that you gather to support your argument/position.

Review the sections in Chapter 13 titled, THE SECTIONAL DEBATE, THE CRISIS OF THE 1850s.
Study the Kansas-Nebraska Act map at this link.

Read the linked speech.
This was John C. Calhoun’s last speech written during the great debate over the Compromise of 1850.  Consider these questions when you analyze the documents and write your essay:

What fears does Calhoun express regarding the future status of the South in the Union?
According to Calhoun, what choices do the Southern states have?
After studying the map and the events described in “Bleeding Kansas”, what evidence do you find to support or refute Calhoun’s statements?

Review the section titled “The Election of Lincoln” and closely examine the map titled THE ELECTION OF 1864,  which is also available on this link.
Consider these questions when you analyze the map and write your essay:

Identify which states and which areas of the country supported which candidate.
What does the map indicate regarding support of particular candidates?  Did this election result in a clear sectional split between the North and South?

Review the topic in Chapter 14 titled THE SECESSION CRISIS and the section on the Confederate Government, and closely examine the SECESSION map, which is also availabvle at this link.
Consider the following questions when you analyze the map and write your essay:

Note the order in which the first states seceded from the Union, and which state led the process.  What conclusion(s) can be reached from this information?
Note the state of Virginia.  What did the western section decide to do?
Note the states which did not secede immediately. What factors may have influenced their decision (consider location among others) to wait and then secede?
Note the slave states that did not secede.  What factors may have influenced their decision?

Calhoun claims in his speech that the Union is in danger, stating “That the immediate cause is the almost universal discontent which pervades all of the States composing the southern section of the Union…” .  What evidence have you found in the readings and maps to support or refute his claim?

Read DEBATING THE PAST/ THE CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR. Besides slavery, what other causes are discussed?

The best way to proceed is to take the following steps:

Read the documents carefully, identify all of the key information that is addressed in each one, and make sure that you understand what each part is stating.

Identify all of the relevant information in each reading assignment and the map that you will need for your discussion.
Identify the main issue, topic or question that is the focus of this essay. This should be addressed in your introduction.
Identify the purpose of the document or documents that were identified for this assignment- Why was each document written (or map constructed?) What was each author’s intent?  This should also be in your introduction.
Make sure that you understand the questions.
Identify all of the information that pertains to each question, including supporting details.
Identify all of the concepts that relate to this topic and be sure that you incorporate them into the discussion.
For your conclusion, once again review the intended purpose, determine if it was satisfied, and indicate what  the documents reveal about the society, the times or events that are being addressed.
Ask yourself:  Did I identify and address all of the major points?  Did I stick to the questions?  Did I follow instructions?

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