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Dana Shoaf: Could the war have been prevented?

By Dana Shoaf

Editor of Civil War Times magazine


Could the war have been prevented? I believe that slavery was the primary issue that brought about the conflict. Not a concern over the moral issue of slavery, but whether that economic system was to survive and grow with the country.

Accepting that fact, I think the only way the war could have been prevented was if the English Crown had established and enforced a universal policy for slavery during the colonial period. By not doing so and allowing each colony to make their own decisions about the issue, it ensured a polyglot of slavery policies, a breeding ground for conflict, confusion, and divisiveness.

After independence, as the new states began to develop local and regional economies, the founders failed to deal with slavery during the Constitution’s ratification, exacerbating the problem. Perhaps even by then it was too late to achieve a good compromise on the matter, but certainly once the country began to rapidly grow during the 19th century the die was cast. Pro- and anti-slavery forces quickly came to loggerheads over expansion or restriction of slavery until the killing began in earnest during the "Bleeding Kansas" days of the mid-1850s, when the war really began. After all, weren't Americans killing each other over whether territory should be slave or free?

By Dana Shoaf  | November 8, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
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Next: Harold Holzer: Could the war have been prevented?


The "war" had "already begun."
We probably could've avoided a "declaration of war" but, to what affect?
Missouri/Kansas, was still bleeding.
The Jayhawkers, and Ruffians, were beginning to slaughter each other,
in turn. Kansas/Nebraska, was being overrun, by opposing factions.
John Brown had been hanged, in Dec, 1859.
There was "no way" that human effort was going to persuade, or prevent, the various different factions from murdering each other.

Posted by: Shadowsmgc | November 9, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

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