​Introduction to History

Some 85 years after uniting to fight for its independence from Great Britain, America dissolves into two armed camps about to engage in a Civil War lasting four years, killing over 750,000, and leaving the nation in a shambles.

This book explores the root causes leading on to this conflict.

 It explains why and how the economic prosperity of the South becomes dependent on sales growth of its two major “crops” – one, the cotton it harvests; two, the African slaves it breeds.

 To insure this growth, the South must find a way to simultaneously increase its supply of cotton for worldwide buyers, along with demand for its excess “inventory of slaves.”

 The obvious answer lies in opening up new plantations west of the Mississippi in the Louisiana and Mexican Cession territories. From Texas to California these lands are ideal for raising cotton, and along with more fields comes the need to buy more slaves.

 All the South requires to prosper is a national agreement to extend slavery to the west.    

 But the North has no interest in acquiescing to this need. In no way is its resistance linked to growing cotton. Nor does it trace for the majority of Northerners to moral opposition to the institution of slavery.

Rather, in plain and simple terms, the white men of the North and West, simply do not want blacks – be they slaves or free – living in their midst. Their anti-black sentiments are visceral in nature. They reflect the commonly held belief that blacks are a “different species,” incapable of being fully civilized, and prone to a host of anti-social behaviors -- including violence. If Southerners are willing to live with the constant fright associated with blacks in exchange for their slave labor, so be it. But the North wants none of this.

This anti-black Northern racism is evident in statutes written into state constitutions from Ohio to Indiana to Oregon. These announce a ban first on slavery but then on free blacks seeking residence within their boundaries. When Lincoln is elected in 1860 on a platform that bans slavery in all new territories including cotton-friendly lands, war becomes inevitable.

It is a war not fought over the morality of slavery, but rather over Southern economic necessity against Northern anti-black racism.    


Introduction to History