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Road to the Civil War Understanding why Northern and Southern states could not avoid war.

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Presentation on theme: "Road to the Civil War Understanding why Northern and Southern states could not avoid war."— Presentation transcript:

1 Road to the Civil War Understanding why Northern and Southern states could not avoid war

2 Slavery was ingrained in Southern society and largely tolerated in Northern states. They were able to put off the issue until new territory was open to settlement. At that point both sides felt the other was undemocratically taking over the nation. Ultimately it was Southern states that felt the election of Lincoln was an unacceptable tipping point.

3 Precedent of the Missouri Compromise

4 Mexican American War

5 Slave Power Conspiracy Abolitionists had always seen a plot by wealthy Southerners to dominate the federal govt. Gag rule on Congress - 1836 - wasn’t that a denial of free speech? War on Mexico - wasn’t it to expand slave territory?

6 Wilmot Proviso No slavery will exist in any territory gained from Mexico. Southerners unified to protect slavery - saw Northerners as out to get them. Southerners rallied around the idea of “state sovereignty” - each state could do as it liked, and the govt. could not deny slavery to the territories.

7 Free Soilers Although Whig Zachary Taylor was elected in 1848, factions of the party split off to form the Free Soil and Know Nothing Party. Free Soilers stood for “free soil, speech, labor, and men” An increased regional sectionalism in politics.

8 Compromise of 1850 CA applied to be a state by 1850, which would have upset the balance of slave and free states. Henry Clay came up with the basic compromise: CA a free state, set the Texas boundary, repaid Mexico, Fugitive Slave Law was strengthened, and no more slave trade in D.C.

9 Fugitive Slave Act Legal issues with this empowered law, where slaveholders could claim slaves ran away, and their description was legal proof. Northerners could be required to hunt fugitives.

10 Abolitionism Uncle Tom’s Cabin - 1852, sold over a million copies in a year. Underground Railroad - assisted thousands of slaves in escape. Southerners took abolitionists as criminals, out to attack their way of life.

11 Kansas Nebraska Act

12 Stephen Douglas proposed full popular sovereignty - but that would violate the Missouri Compromise. The law barely passed through Congress, largely split by region.


14 Republican Party Republican Party formed out of the Whig fallout from the KN Act, it encompassed antislavery Whigs, Freesoilers, and Democrats - essentially a North only party. Not abolitionist, but believed in free soil principles, internal improvement, and hard work.

15 Bleeding Kansas With popular sovereignty approved, most Kansas settlers would have voted against slavery. But proslavery men gathered to change the election. Violence erupted between the two sides.

16 Sumner and Brooks Antislavery senator Charles Sumner of MA was savagely beaten by Rep. Preston Brooks of SC.

17 Dred Scott case 1857 - case of a slave who was taken by his owner into a free state and territory. Scott had won his case, lost on appeal… Supreme Court verdict was that Scott was not a citizen, and could not bring a case. But also that Congress did not have the power to bar slavery in territories - overturned the MO compromise and popular sovereignty.

18 John Brown A fervently religious abolitionist. Had attacked proslavery men in Kansas. Organized a small group to attack a federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, VA (1859). Was captured an executed, but added to the distrust. Many in the North saw him as a martyr. In the South he was a prime example of how the North tried to control them.

19 Election of 1860

20 Lincoln won a majority of electoral votes, but only 40% of the popular vote. Lincoln held to the position of no slavery in the territories, and many Southerners saw this as a total exclusion from the govt.

21 Secession Before Lincoln took office, SC seceded - and moderates were pushed toward secession on the basis of defending Southern rights. Deep South states formed the Confederate States of America. Viewed secession as the only way to hold onto slavery and white dominance.

22 Fort Sumter Lincoln did not recognize the right to secession, but did not want to force the issue. Held onto federal forts in the South to resupply, but in SC Fort Sumter was bombed, and soldiers shipped back North.


24 LeCompton Constitution A dilemma over how to continue with popular sovereignty. Stephen Douglas wanted to lead the national Democratic party - to unite North and South. Pres. Buchanan wanted a proslavery Kansas, even though voters in the state did not. Buchanan tried to force through Congress a false constitution, but Douglas opposed it, which alienated Southerners.

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