Slavery was the primary flashpoint and main cause for the conduct of the American Civil War (1861-1865). The 11 states that comprised the secessionist Confederacy were dependent on the labor of their slaves for the continued operation of their economy. In the Northern states that comprised the Union in the conflict, the practice of slavery was considered as an illegal act. In the South, the work of the slaves was vital to the cotton and tobacco production of the estates in that part of the country.
But the main issue prior to the war concerned whether the practice of slavery would be allowed in the new territories in the West gained from Mexico after the latter’s defeat in the Mexican War (1846-1848) (MSN Encarta, 2008). As the years passed on, the Northern and Southern regions of the United States grew and developed into distinct regional aggregations. This was further exacerbated by the social, political and economic views that each region has grown to take onto itself.
Both of these regions tried to influence the political thinking of the country as a whole. With the subsequent victory of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, the threat of the end of slavery was even more pronounced and led to the conflict (Encarta, 2008). Slavery played a central role in the chronicles of the United States. It should be noted that of the first 12 Presidents of the United States, 75 percent of them were practicing slave owners.
The climax of the debates about the issue of slavery was when the Southern states finally seceded from the Union over the continued practice of slavery, leading to the South’s defeat in the Civil War. The war also bought the practice of slavery to a halt, freeing an estimated 4 million slaves, costing approximately $ 5 billion in wrecked properties and claiming more than 600,000 lives in the process (Encarta, 2008).
Reference MSN Encarta. (2008). American Civil War. Retrieved December 11, 2008, from http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_761567354_1____28/Civil_War. html#s28