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 foreshadowed 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.”