I. Stowe and Helper: Literary Incendiaries Uncle Tom’s Cabin—Harriet Beecher Stowe – She was determined to awaken the North to the wickedness of slavery By laying bare its terrible inhumanity, especially the splitting of families Relied on powerful imagery and touching pathos Wrote later about how her deeper sources of her anti-slavery sentiments lay in the evangelical religious crusades of the Second Great Awakening.
I. Stowe and Helper: Literary Incendiaries (cont.) The success of the novel at home and abroad was sensational It was also on the stage in “Tom shows” for lengthy runs No other novel in American history can be compared with it as a political force To many it made slavery appear almost as evil as it really was – She was introduced to President in 1862; he remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”
I. Stowe and Helper: Literary Incendiaries (cont.) – Mrs. Stowe never witnessed slavery in the Deep South: She had seen it briefly during a visit to Kentucky And she lived in Ohio, center of Underground Railroad activity – Uncle Tom: Left an endearing and enduring impression on the North Many swore they would not have anything to do with the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law
I. Stowe and Helper: Literary Incendiaries (cont.) It was devoured by millions of impressionable youth It was immensely popular abroad, especially Britain and France. – The Impending Crisis of the South (1857) by Hinton R. Helper: Hating slavery, he attempted to prove by an array of statistics that, indirectly, the nonslaveholding whites were the ones who suffered most from the millstone of slavery He finally found a publisher in the North
I. Stowe and Helper: Literary Incendiaries (cont.) – South’s planter elite took note of Helper’s audacity, which fueled their fears: – That the nonslaveholding majority might abandon them – It was banned in the South – In the North thousands were distributed as campaign literature by Republicans – Southerners were embittered when they learned that their northern brethren were spreading these wicked “lies.”
II. The North-South Contest for Kansas Popular sovereignty: – New England Emigrant Aid Company: Famous antislavery organization Sent 2000 people to the troubled area to forestall the South and to make a profit Many carried their breech-loading Sharps rifles, nicknamed “Beecher’s Bibles” after Rev. Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother) who had helped raise money to pay for them Southern spokesmen raised cries of betrayal
II. The North-South Contest for Kansas (cont.) The northern “Nebrascals,” were now out to “abolitionize” both Kansas and Nebraska Some southern hotheads attempted to “assist” small groups of well-armed slave-owners to Kansas Planting blacks on Kansas soil was a losing game – Slaves were valuable and volatile property – Foolish for owners to take them where bullets were flying – The soil might be voted free under popular sovereignty Census of 1860 only found 2 slaves among 107,000 souls in Kansas and only 15 in Nebraska.
II. The North-South Contest for Kansas (cont.) Crisis conditions in Kansas rapidly worsened (see Map 19.1): – In 1855 election day for the first territorial legislature: Saw proslavery “border ruffians” pour in from Missouri to vote early and often The slavery supporters triumphed and then set up their own puppet government at Shawnee, MO. The free-soilers established an extralegal regime of their own in Topeka
II. The North-South Contest for Kansas (cont.) – Confused Kansans had their choice of two governments: One based on fraud One based on illegality – Tensions mounted as settlers feuded over conflicting land claims Breaking point (1856) when a gang of proslavery raiders, alleging provocation, shot up and burned part of the free-soil town of Lawrence This outrage was but the prelude to bloodier tragedy.
III. Kansas in Convulsion John Brown now stalked upon the Kansas battlefield – Obsessively dedicated to the abolitionist cause: Brooding over the attack on Lawrence, led a band to Pottawatomie Creek in May 1856 There they literally hacked to pieces 5 surprised men, presumed to be proslaveryites This terrorist butchery besmirched the free-soil cause It also brought vicious retaliation from proslavery forces
III. Kansas in Convulsion (cont.) – Civil war erupted in Kansas in 1856: Destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property Paralyzed agriculture in certain areas Cost scores of lives Continued until it merged with the Civil War of 1861- 1865. – Kansas applied for statehood on a popular sovereignty basis
III. Kansas in Convulsion (cont.) Lecompton Constitution: proslavery forces document – the people were not allowed to vote for or against the constitution as a whole – But for the constitution either “with slavery” or “with no slavery” – Whatever the outcome there would still be black bondage – Free-soilers boycotted the polls – The proslaveryites approved the constitution with slavery late in 1857 The scene shifted to Washington: – President Pierce had been succeeded by James Buchanan, who was strongly under southern influence
III. Kansas Convulsion (cont.) – Buchanan supported the Lecompton Constitution – Senator Douglas threw his support behind popular sovereignty – A compromise was arrived at that submitted the entire Lecompton Constitution to the people – The free-soil votes thronged to the polls and snowed it under – Kansas remained a territory until 1861, when the southern secessionists left Congress. – Buchanan’s action divided the Democratic Party.
IV. “Bully” Brooks and His Bludgeon Bleeding Kansas: – Also spattered blood on the Senate floor 1856: Senator Charles Sumner of Mass. was a leading abolitionist Made himself one of the most disliked men in Senate Delivered the speech “The Crime Against Kansas” – He condemned the proslavery men – Referred insultingly to South Carolina and to its white- haired senator Andrew Butler
IV. “Bully” Brooks and His Bludgeon (cont.) – Preston S. Brooks: Congressman from South Carolina took vengeance into his own hands He resented the insults to his state and to its senator His code of conduct called for a duel To Brooks, the only alternative was to chastise the senator On May 22, 1856, he approached Sumner and pounded the orator with an 11-ounce cane until it broke
IV. “Bully” Brooks and His Bludgeon (cont.) The House could not muster enough votes to expel Brooks He resigned but was triumphantly reelected Sumner had to leave due to his injuries, go to Europe for treatment Mass. For 3 ½ years keep his seat open until he could return – Bleeding Sumner was thus joined with bleeding Kansas as a political issue
II. “Bully” Brooks and His Bludgeon (cont.) – The free-soil North was mightily aroused against Brooks: Copies of Sumner’s speech were sold by the thousands Every blow to the Senator doubtless made thousands of Republicans The South not unanimous in approving Brooks – Were angered by Sumner’s speech and because it was so extravagantly applauded in the North – The Sumner-Brooks clash and the ensuing reactions revealed how dangerously inflamed passion were – The blows rained on Sumner were among the first blows of the Civil War
V. “Old Buck” Versus “The Pathfinder” The Democrats met in Cincinnati to elect their presidential standard-bearer of 1856 – The delegates chose James Buchanan: He was serving in London during the Kansas-Nebraska uproar—therefore “Kansas-less” In a crisis that called for giants, he was mediocre, irresolute, and confused Republicans met in Philadelphia: – “Higher Law” Steward was the conspicuous leader
V. “Old Buck” versus “The Pathfinder” (cont.) – However, the final choice was John C. Frémont: The so-called “Pathfinder of the West” Was virtually without political experience, but was not tarred with the Kansas brush The Republicans came out strongly against the extension of slavery While the Democrats declared no less emphatically for popular sovereignty
V. “Old Buck” versus “The Pathfinder (cont.) – An ugly dose of antiforeignism was injected into the campaign: Recent influx of immigrants from Ireland and Germany alarmed “nativists”—name of old-stock Protestants – They organized the Know-Nothing party because of its secretiveness – In 1856 nominated ex-president Millard Fillmore – Anti-foreign, anti-Catholic – Threatened, with some Whig supporter for Fillmore, to cut into the Republican strength – Mudslinging bespattered both candidates
VI. The Electoral Fruits of 1856 The election returns: – Buchanan Polled less than a majority of the popular vote Won handily (see Map 19.2) Electoral College count was 174 to 114 for Frémont and 8 for Fillmore The popular vote was 1,832,955 for Buchanan; 1,339,932 for Frémont; 871,731 for Fillmore.
VI. The Electoral Fruits of 1856 (cont.) Why the Republican defeat: Frémont’s lack of honesty, capacity, and sound judgment Violent threat that the election of a sectional “Black Republican” would be a declaration of war, forcing the South to secede Many northerners were intimidated to vote for Buchanan Innate conservatism triumphed, assisted by so-called southern bullying
VI. The Electoral Fruits of 1856 (cont.) Fortunate for the Union that secession and the Civil War did not come in 1856: – Frémont was ill-balanced and second rate figure – In 1856 the North was more willing to let the South depart in peace than in 1860 – Dramatic events (1856-1860) aroused still- apathetic northerners to a fighting pitch The election of 1856 cast a long shadow forward, and politicians, North and South, peered anxiously toward 1860
VII. The Dred Scott Bombshell The Dred Scott v. Stanford decision by the Supreme Court on March 6, 1857: – Pronouncement was one of the opening paper- gun blasts of the Civil War Basically the case was simple The Supreme Court turned it in a complex political issue: – It ruled that Dred Scott was a black slave and not a citizen, and hence could not sue in federal courts – The tribunal could then have thrown out the case on these technical grounds alone
VII. The Dred Scott Bombshell (cont.) – A majority decided to go further, under the leadership of emaciated Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (from slave state-Maryland) A majority decreed that because a slave was private property, he or she could be taken into any territory and legally held there in slavery Reasons—the Fifth Amendment—forbade Congress to deprive people of their property without due process of law The Court went further:
VII. The Dred Scott Bombshell (cont.) They ruled that the Compromise of 1820 had been unconstitutional all along: – Congress had no power to ban slavery from the territories, regardless of what the territorial legislatures themselves might want Southerners were delighted with this victory Champions of popular sovereignty were aghast Another lethal wedge was driven between the northern and southern wings of the once united Democratic party.
VII. The Dred Scott Bombshell (cont.) – Foes of slavery extension were infuriated by the Dred Scott setback: They insisted the ruling was an opinion, not a decision Therefore not binding Republicans were defiant of the Court because: – Its members were southerners – And by their convictions debased themselves Southerners were inflamed by all this defiance; how long could they be joined to a section that refused to honor the Supreme Court?
VIII. The Financial Crash of 1857 Panic of 1857: why the crash? Inpouring California gold helped to inflate the currency The demands of the Crimean War (Russia, 1853-1856) overstimulated the growing of grain Frenzied speculation in land and railroads – Over 5000 businesses failed North and its grain growers hardest hit South enjoyed favorable cotton prices abroad
VIII. The Financial Crash of 1857 (cont.) – Panic conditions further proof that cotton was king: This false delusion helped drive the overconfidence of southerners closer to a shooting showdown – Financial distress in the North, especially agriculture, gave a new vigor for free farms of 160 acres from the public domain
VIII. The Financial Crash of 1857 (cont.) – Scheme to make outright gifts of homesteads: Eastern industrialists opposed free land giveaways South opposed because they didn’t think gang-labor slavery could flourish on a mere 160 acres Congress (1860) passed a homestead act – Public land available for 25 cent an acre – It was killed by President Buchanan’s veto – The panic of 1857 created a clamor for higher tariff rates: There was a large Treasury surplus
VIII. The Financial Crash of 1857 (cont.) The Tariff of 1857: – Responding to pressure from the South, reduced duties to about 20 percent on dutiable goods—the lowest point since 1812 – As the surplus melted away in the Treasury, » Industrials in the North pointed to the need for higher duties » They were concerned about the need of increased protection – The panic of 1857 gave Republicans two surefire economic issues for the election of 1860: » Protection for the unprotected » Farms for the farmless
IX. An Illinois Rail-Splitter Emerges The Illinois senatorial election of 1858 claimed the national spotlight: – Senator Stephen A. Douglas’s term was to expire – Republicans ran a Springfield lawyer, Abraham Lincoln: » Not well educated, but an avid reader » He married “above himself” into the influential Todd family of Kentucky—helped to school him in patience and forbearance » Emerged as a trial lawyer in Illinois » Widely referred to as “Honest Abe” » He served an undistinguished term in Congress, 1847- 1849
IX. An Illinois Rail-Splitter Emerges (cont.) – The Kansas-Nebraska Act lighted within him unexpected fire » He emerged as one of the foremost politicians and orators in the Northwest – At the Philadelphia convention 1856: » John C. Frémont was nominated » Lincoln received 100 votes for the vice-presidential nomination
X. The Great Debate: Lincoln Versus Douglas – Lincoln-Douglas debates: Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of joint debates Douglas accepted; they were arranged from August to October 1858 The most famous debate came at Freeport, Illinois: – Lincoln presented a question based on the Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott decision – Douglas had already publicly answered the Freeport question – The “Little Giant” did not hesitate to meet the issue head- on, honestly and consistently
X. The Great Debate: Lincoln Versus Douglas – Freeport Doctrine: No matter how the Supreme Court ruled, slavery would stay down if the people voted it down Laws to protect slavery would have to be passed by the territorial legislatures – In the absence of popular approval, black bondage would soon disappear Where public opinion does not support the federal government, as in the case of Jefferson’s embargo (see pp. 216-218), the law is impossible to enforced.
X. The Great Debate: Lincoln Versus Douglas (cont.) – Douglas defeated Lincoln for the Senate seat The “Little Giant’s” loyalty to popular sovereignty was the decisive point Senators were chosen by the state legislatures “Honest Abe” won a clear moral victory Lincoln began to emerge as a potential Republican nominee for president Douglas, in winning Illinois, lost his chances of winning the presidency Lincoln-Douglas debate platform proved to be one of the preliminary battlefields of the Civil War
XI. John Brown: Murderer or Martyr? – John Brown studied the tactics of the black rebels Toussaint L’Ouverture (see p. 211) and Nat Turner (see p. 348) – Hatched a scheme to invade the South secretly – Called upon the slaves to rise – Furnished them with arms – Established a kind of black free state as a sanctuary Harpers Ferry: – he seized the federal arsenal in October 1859 – Incidentally killing seven innocent people, killing a free black and injuring ten or more – Slaves ignored Brown’s strike, failed to rise, and wounded Brown
XI. John Brown: Murderer or Martyr? (cont.) – Brown and his remnants were captured by U.S. Marines under Robert E. Lee Convicted of murder and treason Presumed insanity, supported by 17 friends and relatives – He marched up the scaffold steps without flinching – His conduct exemplary – His devotion to freedom so inflexible that he took on an exalted character – The effects of Harper Ferry were inflammatory: To the South, Brown was a wholesale murderer An apostle of treason
XI. John Brown: Murderer or Martyr? (cont.) Abolitionists and ardent free-soilers were infuriated by Brown’s execution Free-soil centers in the North tolled bells – Fired guns, lowered flags, and held rallies The ghost of the martyred Brown would not be laid to rest
XII. The Disruption of the Democrats – The presidential election of 1860 was the most fateful in American history: Democrats met in Charleston, South Carolina – Douglas the leading candidate for the northern wing – Southern wing regarded him a traitor » Because of the Lecompton Constitution and the Freeport Doctrine – Cotton state delegates walked out – Remaining could not scrape enough of the 2/3 necessary; disbanded The first tragic secession was the secession of south- erners from the National Convention Departure became habit-forming
XII. The Disruption of the Democrats (cont.) – The Democrats tried again in Baltimore: Douglas was firmly in the saddle Many cotton-state delegates took a walk The rest of the delegates enthusiastically nominated their hero Platform came out squarely: – For popular sovereignty – Against obstruction of the Fugitive Slave Law by the states – John C. Breckinridge was chosen vice- presidential candidate
XII. The Disruption of the Democrats (cont.) The platform favored the extension of slavery into the territories and the annexation of slave-populated Cuba – Constitutional Union party: The middle-of-the-road group Sneered as the “Do Nothing” or “Old Gentleman’s” party Desperately wanted a compromise candidate, met in Baltimore and nominated for the presidency John Bell of Tennessee.
XIII. A Rail-Splitter Splits the Union – Republicans met in Chicago: William H. Seward was the best candidate: – Radical utterances, his “irrepressible conflict” speech at Rochester 1858 had ruined his prospects – Enemies’ slogan, “Success Rather Than Steward.” Lincoln, the favorite son of Illinois: – A “Second Best,” but a stronger candidate because he made fewer enemies – Overtook Seward on the third ballot, was nominated. Republican party had an appeal for everybody: – For the free-soilers, nonextension of slavery – For the northern manufacturers, a protective tariff – For the immigrants, no abridgment of rights
XIII. A Rail-Splitter Splits the Union (cont.) – For the Northwest, a Pacific railroad – For the West, internal improvements at federal expense – For the farmers, free homesteads from the public domain Southern secessionists called Lincoln the “baboon,” the “abolitionist” rail-splitter who would split the Union – “Honest Abe,” though hating slavery, was no outright abolitionist – Lincoln enthusiasts staged roaring rallies and parades – Douglas waged a vigorous speaking campaign – The returns, breathlessly awaited, proclaimed a sweeping victory for Lincoln (see Table 19.1).
XIV. The Electoral Upheaval of 1860 Lincoln was a minority president: – 60% of the voters would have preferred someone else – A sectional president—in ten southern states, not being on the ballot – The election of 1860 was virtually two elections: one for the North and one for the South (see Map 19.3) – South Carolina rejoiced over Lincoln’s victory; they now had their excuse to secede. Douglas scraped only 12 electoral votes: – He campaigned energetically for himself – Douglas and Breckinridge together amassed 365,476 more votes than did Lincoln
XIV. The Electoral Upheaval of 1860 (cont.) The ballot box did not indicate a strong sentiment for secession (see Map 19.4) Breckinridge polled fewer votes in the slave states than the combined strength of his opponents Douglas and Bell – He failed to carry his own state of Kentucky. Even though the Republicans had elected Lincoln: – They controlled neither the Senate nor the House. – The federal government could not touch slavery, except by a constitutional amendment.
XIV. The Electoral Upheaval of 1860 (cont.) – Confederate States of America: Formed by seven seceding states in Montgomery, Alabama in February 1861: – They chose as their president Jefferson Davis Crisis was deepened by the “lame duck” interlude: – Lincoln, elected in November 1860, could not take office until March 4, 1861 – During this time seven of the eleven deserting states left – President Buchanan was blamed for not holding the nation together; he did not believe that the southern states could secede – Yet he could find no authority in the Constitution for stopping them with guns
XV. The Secessionist Exodus (cont.) – One reason he did not resort to force: » The tiny standing army of 15,000 troops was urgently needed to control the Indians in the West – North not interested in fight at this time – The weakness not such much in Buchanan, but in the constitution and in the Union itself – Ironically, when Lincoln became president in March, he essentially continued Buchanan’s wait-and-see policy
XV. The Secessionist Exodus – A tragic chain reaction of secession now began to erupt: South Carolina had threatened to go out if the “sectional” Lincoln won: – 4 days later they voted to call a special convention – Meeting in Charleston, December 1860, the convention voted unanimously to secede – During the next six weeks other southern states voted to secede – Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas – Four more would join late, bringing the total to eleven
XVI. The Collapse of Compromise – Crittenden amendments: Sponsored by Senator John Jordan Crittenden, Kentucky Designed to appease the South Slavery in the territories was to be prohibited north of the 36-30 latitude, but south of that line it was to be given federal protection in all territories existing or “hereafter to be acquired” Future states north of this line could come into the Union with or without slavery, as they should choose Slavery supporters were to be guaranteed full rights in the southern territories regardless of popular sovereignty
XVI. The Collapse of Compromise (cont.) Lincoln flatly rejected the Crittenden scheme He was elected on a platform that opposed the extension and felt he must support this, even if slavery was only to be temporary Buchanan: how could he have prevented the Civil War by starting a civil war? – No one has yet come up with a satisfactory answer
XVII. Farewell to Union – Secessionists left for a number of reasons: Most related to the issue of slavery Southerners were dismayed by the triumph of the new Republican party They were weary of free-soil criticism: – Abolitionist nagging – Northern interference ranging from the Underground Railroad to John Brown’s raid Supported secession because they felt sure that their departure would be unopposed Southerners saw it as a golden opportunity to cast aside their generations of “vassalage” to the North
XVII. Farewell to Union (cont.) – An independent Dixieland could develop its own banking and shipping and trade directly with Europe – Who could tell when the “greedy” Republicans would drive through their own oppressive protective tariff? – Pitted between the North and South: » The North with its manufacturing plants » The South with its agricultural exports Worldwide impulses of nationalism were fermenting in the South The principles of self-determination—of the Declaration of Independence—seemed to many southerners to apply perfectly to them
XVIII. Farewell to Union (cont.) – Few southern states felt that they were doing anything wrong or immoral Historical parallel ran even deeper: – 1776 thirteen American colonies, led by the rebel George Washington, seceded from the British empire by throwing off the yoke of King George III – 1860-1861 eleven American states, led by the rebel Jefferson Davis, were seceding from the Union by throwing off the yoke of “King” Abraham Lincoln – With that burden gone, the South was confident that it could work its own peculiar destiny more quietly, happily, and prosperously