A Divided Nation

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by BrookeValenzuela
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Social Studies
African-American History

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A Divided Nation

Anti-Slavery Literature was popular with Abolitionists in the North. Slave narratives were used to educate people of their harships, and stories of fugitive slaves were used to gain sympathy for their cause. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a popular anti-slavery novel titled Uncle Tom's Cabin. The novel portrays the cruelness of slaveholders and the pain the slaves endure. The novel caused an uproar in the South because of the disagreement, but the North was electrified with this new attention to slavery. This divided the nation into supporters and non-supporters of this novel, which was related to slavery. This contributed to the Civil War because the nation was divided with rage and gratitude.

A Divided Nation

The nation was divided because of slavery. The southerners wanted slavery, and even argued their economy would be destroyed if they didn't have slavery. On the other hand, the northerners were opposed to slavery, and wanted all slaves to become free. There were many things that occurred that seemed to divide the nation even further, such as the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These acts provoked hostility between the two areas of the nation. The nation was divided because the southerners supported slavery, and the northerners did not.

The Compromise of 1850, seemed to settle most of the disputes between slave and free states. The Compromise allowed California to enter the Union as a free state. The remnants of the Mexican Cecession was divided into Utah and New Mexico, where slavery would be decided by popular sovreignty. It attempted to resolve conflicts, but didn't last very long. Popular Sovereignity was very controversial which later would contribute to the Civil War.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was an act that divided the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase into two areas, Kansas and Nebraska. These two areas allowed the people in each area to decide upon slavery. This act eliminated the restriction from the Missouri Compromise that slavery was not allowed North of the 36,30 line. Anti-slavery northerners were furious, and protests meetings were frequently attended. This added to the Civil War because the northerners did not want the people to decide on whether slaves were permitted or not, and many disagreed with the Missouri Compromise being broken.

In the Election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln was voted president. The Connstitutional Union Party also emerged during this time. It recognized political principles other than the Constitution, the Union of the States, and the enforcement of laws. John Bell was the candidate selected for this party. John C. Breckinridge was backed by the Southern Democrats, and was also current vice president. Northern Democrats chose Senator Stephen Douglas as their candidate. With a unified Republican Party, Lincoln won. Douglas was runner up with the second-highest number of popular votes, but he only won one state. Lincoln didn't carry any Southern States, but he still became president. This election led to the Civil War because Lincoln won, which angered southerners because he was against slavery. Although, he didn't gain any free states, which angered northerners.

The Fugitive Slave Act made it a crime to assist runaway slaves and allowed officials to arrest those slaves in free areas. It was allowed for slaveholders to take suspected fugitives to commissioners. This contributed to the Civil War because there was people who supported it and people who didn't; Some people thought that once a slave made it to a free state, they deserved freedom, but some did not agree.

When Lincoln won the Election of 1860, the South thought their economy would fall apart without slave labor. South Carolina seceded because they claimed that each original state had voluntarily joined the Union, so they should be able to leave it in the same fashion. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all seceded as well to form the Confederate States of America. The delegates elected Jefferson Davis as president of the Confederacy. Senator John J. Crittenden proposed a series of amendments for the Constitution, but when voted on, all Republicans rejected it, as Lincoln requested. There was controversy on what to do with Federal property in the South, but Davis and the Confederacy were ready to protect it. President Lincoln then took office, and he announced he would keep all of the Federal property in seceding states. He tried to convince the Southerners that his government did not want to start a war, and hoped the Southern states would return to the Union. This led to the Civil War because the Southern states were no longer part of the Union, and were hostile about it.

The Dred Scott Decision was a very complicated case that occurred after Buchannan became president. Dr. John Emerson owned the slave Dred Scott. Emerson had taken Scott on tours of duty in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, in the 1830s. When Emerson died, after they had returned to Missouri, Scott became the slave of Emerson's Widow. Scott sued for his freedom claiming that he had become free when he lived in free territory. Scott's case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after 11 years and lower rulings. Due to the fact that Roger B. Taney ruled that alll African Americans were not citizens under the U.S. Constitution, Scott didn't have the right to file suit in federal court. Taney also ruled the Missouri Compromise restriction of slavery north of 36,30 to be unconstitutional. Most white southerners were very happy, and supported this ruling strongly. This affected the U.S. because slavery was now allowed in the North, which made most northerners angry, but southerners happy; which was one of the effects that led to the Civil War.

The Compromise of 1850

Fugitive Slave Act

Anti-Slavery Literature

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Dred Scott Decision

Election of 1860

The South Secedes

" 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided." -Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Stephen Douglas

"Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much." -Abraham Lincoln


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