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South
Carolina’s defiance of federal authority, cited in Shi and Tindall (2016), asserted
that “it is disunion by force – it is secession by force – it is civil war.”
This statement accurately states that the Civil War was inevitable. The
eventual secession of seven “cotton states” from the Union was anticipated by
several major events within the fifteen years leading up to the Civil War. The
end of the Mexican American War in 1848, the Publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin
in 1852, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott Case in 1857, John
Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 and the Outcome of the Presidential
Election of 1860 all contributed to the upcoming Secession of the lower South which
inescapably led to the Civil War.

 

The
Mexican-American war was the first in which an American army fought on foreign
soil and conquered and occupied its capital. To acquire California and New
Mexico, James K. Polk was eager to wage war against Mexico, even if he had to
manipulate the situation so that the possibility of Congress voting against a
declaration of war was avoided (Shi and Tindall, 2016). Polk strongly believed
in Manifest Destiny, but his decision to wage war against Mexico was seen as
“unprecedented” (Foner, 2014) as many feared that the “administration’s real
aim was to acquire new land for the expansion of slavery”. Polk was hostile to
the belief that the war against Mexico was down to the expansion of slavery and
instead argued that “his efforts to extend the nation’s boundaries were
intended to replace sectional tensions with national unity” (Shi and Tindall,
2016). However, the new acquired territories did not strengthen the Union and
instead triggered an intense conflict concerning the role of slavery, and so Shi
and Tindall (2016) rightly state that it was a “shameful war… bent on
territorial expansion for the sake of slavery.”  

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