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Digital History ID 3064

 

In July 1861, Congress adopted a resolution by a vote of 117 to 2 in the House and 30 to 5 in the Senate that read: "This war is not waged...for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the established institutions of those States, but to maintain the States unimpaired; and that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war should cease." Fearful of alienating the slave states that remained in the Union--Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri--or of antagonizing Northerners who would support anti-war Democrats if the conflict were transformed into a war to abolish slavery, Lincoln felt that he had to proceed cautiously. Nevertheless, opponents of slavery regarded the war as a providential opportunity to destroy slavery and the slave power.

In its analysis of the Civil War's causes, the London Times rejected the notion that this was a war about slavery. It argued that the conflict had the same roots as most wars: territorial aggrandizement, political power, and economic supremacy. But few Northerners or Southerners saw the war in such simple terms. To many white southern soldiers, it was a war to preserve their liberty and their way of life, to prevent abolition and its consequences--race war, racial amalgamation, and, according to one militant Southerner's words, "the Africanization of the South." To many northern soldiers, it was a war to preserve the Union, uphold the Constitution, and defeat a ruthless slave power, which had threatened to subvert republican ideals of liberty and equality.

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