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Was the Civil War fought solely over the issue of slavery Or did divergent social economic and political factors play a larger role Many Historians maintain that slavery was the main cause In Lincolns second inaugural address in 1865 Lincoln said of slavery All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war But most Historians agree that the Civil War had a number of causes They note especially the division between the North and South - that is the differences in economics ideals and ways of life Yet all explanations for the cause of the war have always involved or revolved around the issue of slavery The southern states including the 11 states that formed the Confederacy depended on slavery to support their economy Southerners used slave labor to produce crops especially cotton Although slavery was illegal in the Northern states only a small portion of Northerners actively opposed it The main debate between the North and South on the eve of the war was whether slavery should be permitted in the Western territories recently acquired during the Mexican War including New Mexico part of California and Utah Opponents of slavery were concerned about its expansion in part because they did not want to compete against slave labor The Compromise of 1850 was a group of acts passed by Congress in hopes of settling the slavery question by giving some satisfaction to both the North and South The Compromise allowed slavery to continue but prohibited the slave trade in Washington DC It admitted California to the Union as a free state and gave newly acquired territories the right to decide whether or not to permit slavery The Compromise also included a stricter fugitive slave law that required Northerners to return escaped slaves to their owners Northern abolitionists disobeyed the law by operating the Underground Railroad a system of escape routes and housing of runaway slaves A book called Uncle Toms Cabin
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