The Civil War:
In your groups use the collected documents to determine why the United States fought the Civil War. Your group needs to decide how to break up the document reading and analysis. I suggest that more than one person read each document so that you each have a partner with whom to brainstorm, reflect and analyze the content and meaning. Please do not neglect the link to relevant portions of the Constitution. You may look for background information on any of the incidents or topics listed below, but the emphasis of your efforts should be on deciphering the primary sources indexed below.

The Quest for Power:

Just as versions of the truth about the motives of key players in the revolutionary era seem to contradict one another, so too do perspectives on the Civil War. The war between the states, the war of northern aggression, the War to Suppress Yankee Arrogance, and the lost cause were (and continue to be) common references to the almost five years of domestic blood-shedding in the United States during the 1860s. If perception is reality, what then is the truth about the Brothers' War?

How do decisions get made and who gets to make them?

That the one thing which is "wholly and eternally wrong" is the effort of so-called statesmen to inject one-sided and jaundiced sentiments into the youth of the country in either section. Such sentiments are neither consistent with the truth of history, nor conducive to the future welfare and unity of the Republic. The assumption on either side of all the righteousness and all the truth would produce a belittling arrogance, and an offensive intolerance of the opposing section; or, if either section could be persuaded that it was "wholly and eternally wrong," it would inevitably destroy the self-respect and manhood of its people.
John B. Gordon, Maj. Gen. CSA

Relevant Portions of the U.S. Constitution

More Names for the Civil War

Loose vs. Strict Construction

National Bank
Alexander Hamilton vs. Thomas Jefferson
Louisiana Purchase

McCulloch v Maryland

New England and the War of 1812
New England's Proposed Amendments
Declared Causes of Secession
Discussion of North-South Relations

Issues of Expansion
MO Compromise
Compromise of 1850
Kansas-Nebraska Act;
John Brown

Dred Scott
Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas

States' Rights
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

Tariff of Abominations
Andrew Jackson vs. John C. Calhoun

Slave Uprisings
Nat Turner
John Brown's Raid