A More Perfect Union

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“WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, IN ORDER TO form a more perfect Union,”; the beginning of the preamble contains duality. We the people of the United States refers to the population as creator while “in order to form a more perfect Union” expresses a unity of states.

In the 19th century the United States experienced many changes. Freed from England, the Northeast was industrializing and economically competing with England while building its manufacturing base. The Louisiana Purchase created new territories which were being populated by the migration of Americans and immigrants. Newly formed territories became states, upsetting the balance of power and opening the question of whether slavery would be extended to new states.  New technology (railroads, wireless, photography) was improving communication and mobility.  With an agrarian economy based on a plantation system manned by the free labor of slaves, the South traded mostly with France and England, exporting raw materials and importing manufactured goods. The three areas of the United States were becoming increasingly different (Sectionalism).

The beginning of the 19th century saw a break up of existing political parties. There was a split between Northern and Southern Democrats. In 1854 a new party was formed, the Republican Party, which was mostly a Northern Party with ideology in direct opposition to that of the South. Congressional dialogue and actions became very contentious. The two hot issues of the day were high protective tariff that sheltered the infant industries of the North and increased the cost of imported goods, and the extension of slavery into newly formed states. A constitutional crisis occurred when Southern States maintained the right of nullification and then secession.

The election of 1860 had four presidential candidates:  Republican, Abraham Lincoln; Southern Democrat, John C. Breckenridge; Northern Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas; and Constitutional Union, John Bell. Abraham Lincoln was elected President on a platform that was not abolitionist, but was explicitly opposed to the spread of slavery into new American territories. South Carolina seceded from the United States, followed by other southern states.  The separatist states formed a new country. Calling themselves the Confederate States of America, they wrote a new Constitution and elected a new President, Jefferson Davis.  The South no longer had representatives in the U.S. Congress.  West Point Generals of the South formed the Confederate Army.

Lincoln did not recognize the new country.  Fort Sumter, a Union fort, was in South Carolina, Confederate territory. Lincoln sent Union troops to resupply the fort.   Upon the arrival of Federal troops, rebel forces started attacking Union forces. Civil War had begun.

The death total of the Civil War was 620,000 due to the inability to compromise. The Center Did Not Hold…

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2 thoughts on “A More Perfect Union

  1. It may seem hard to find the center when the country appears to be split down the middle, but we were ultimately able to regain our center after our tragic Civil War. Today’s problems seem much less challenging in comparison. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Twenty-First Century Progressives | The Center Will Hold

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