Political, Social/Cultural, and Economic Causes of the Civil War

The American Civil War erupted as a result of disagreements caused by various factors. The war was fought between the southern states and the northern states. Even though historians argue that there are no specific causes of the Civil War, several political, social, cultural, and economic factors led to Civil War. Primarily, the differences in ideology concerning politics, social issues, and America’s economy between the northern states loyal and southern states led to the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln was a major political factor, elected as the president of the North in the presidential election of 1860. He won the North and his opponent, Breckenridge, won the South. Abraham Lincoln served as the head of the new Republican Party, while Breckenridge represented the Constitutional Union party. The South and the Northern states had different views on who could be the president of America. The northern people wanted Abraham Lincoln, while the Southern people wanted Breckenridge (Henderson & Singer, 2000). The difference in political leaders of interest between the North and the South would later escalate the American Civil War.

The South and the North had completely different economies. The North had a more innovative economy than the South, enabled by various factors. Firstly, the North dealt with cotton, which appeared to be decorative and attracted a more diverse market. Additionally, the South did not depend on slaves for labor, and hence, it was not a major element in the economy. Also, capitalism was predominant in the North, with its population proliferating and a high urbanization rate. It was the opposite of the South, where the economy seemed to deteriorate while that of the North improved (Coclanis & Engerman, 2013). Therefore, the differences in economic performance led to the South’s later propagate the Civil War.

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Socially, the North and the South had different attitudes and beliefs on slavery. The North was against slavery and even formed a movement, the Abolitionist Movement, which aimed at ending slavery across America (Kelly, 2020). People from the North believed that enslaving the Africans was socially unjust and morally wrong. Even though the Africans could provide free labor, the North’s mission was to promote justice among all people. On the other hand, the South wanted to keep embracing slavery, primarily because it was a form of free labor within the plantations. The Abolitionist Movement was supported by Harriet Beecher, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd, who wanted freedom for Africans. The social difference on enslavement led to a divide between the North and South, which propagated the Civil War.

To sum up, the political, economic, and social differences between the northern and southern states propagated the Civil War. Politically, the North and the South had different views on who could be the president. In the end, Abraham Lincoln won the North and his opponent, Breckenridge, won the South. Economically, the North’s economy was dominant than the South’s. Socially, the South believed in slavery because they would continue providing free labor on the plantations. At the same time, the North thought that enslavement was socially unjust and morally wrong. Due to the differences, the Civil War would later arise between the southern and northern states.


Coclanis, P., & Engerman, S. (2013). Would Slavery Have Survived Without the Civil War?: Economic Factors in the American South During the Antebellum and Postbellum Eras. Southern Cultures, 19(2), 66-90. https://doi.org/10.1353/scu.2013.0019

Henderson, E., & Singer, J. (2000). Civil War in the Post-Colonial World, 1946-92. Journal Of Peace Research, 37(3), 275-299. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343300037003001

Kelly, M. (2020). Understanding the 4 Main Issues That Led to the American Civil War. ThoughtCo. Retrieved 8 March 2021, from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-causes-of-the-civil-war-104532.