The causes of the Civil War: a newspaper analysis

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University of Alabama Libraries

This dissertation examines antebellum newspaper content in an attempt to add to the historical understanding of the causes of the Civil War. Numerous historians have studied the Civil War and its causes, but this study will use only newspapers to examine what they can show about the causes that eventually led the country to war. Newspapers have long chronicled events in American history, and they offer valuable information about the issues and concerns of their communities. This study begins with an overview of the newspaper coverage of the tariff and territorial issues that began to divide the country in the early decades of the 1800s. The study then moves from the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 to Lincoln's election in 1860, a period in which sectionalism and disunion increasingly appeared on newspaper pages and the lines of disagreement between the North and the South hardened. The primary sources used in this study were a diverse sampling of articles from newspapers around the country and includes representation from both southern and northern newspapers. Studying these antebellum newspapers offers insight into the political, social, and economic concerns of the day, which can give an indication of how the sectional differences in these areas became so divisive. This study shows what issues became such insurmountable problems for the nation that Americans finally reached a point where it seemed the only solution was going to war.

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Journalism, American history, History