[2015] Aleeza Hassan (AB 67): A Divided Nation

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by BrookeValenzuela
Last updated 4 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
American History

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[2015] Aleeza Hassan (AB 67): A Divided Nation

History

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. The Act served to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36°30´. The Kansas-Nebraska Act infuriated many in the North who considered the Missouri Compromise to be a long-standing binding agreement. In the pro-slavery South it was strongly supported. This event invalidated the Missouri Compromise and therefore led to a fight for balance and freedom, otherwise known as the Civil War.

Historians have traditionally regarded the series of seven debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the 1858 Illinois state election campaign as among the most significant statements in American political history. The issues they discussed were not only of critical importance to the sectional conflict over slavery and states’ rights but also touched deeper questions that would continue to influence political discourse.

The force of events moved very quickly upon the election of Lincoln. South Carolina acted first, calling for a convention to secede from the Union. State by state, conventions were held, and a confederacy of seven states was formed. This contributed to the increase in sectionalism and eventually the Civil War

Divisions over slavery in territory gained in the Mexican-American (1846-48) war were resolved in the Compromise of 1850. It consisted of laws admitting California as a free state, creating Utah and New Mexico territories with the question of slavery in each to be determined by popular sovereignty, settling a Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute in the former’s favor, ending the slave trade in Washington, D.C., and making it easier for southerners to recover fugitive slaves. This nullified the ratio of slave states to free states and therefore contributed as an event leading up to the Civil War.

The Election of 1860 demonstrated the divisions within the United States just before the Civil War. The election was unusual because four strong candidates competed for the presidency. Political parties of the day were in flux. The dominant party, the Democratic Party, had split into two sectional factions, with each promoting its own candidate. The Republican Party was relatively new; 1860 was only the second time the party had a candidate in the presidential race. The Constitutional Union Party was also new; 1860 was the first and only time the party ran a candidate for president. The results of the 1860 election pushed the nation into war.

Dred Scott was a slave who sought his freedom through the American legal system. The 1857 decision by the United States Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case denied his plea, determining that no Negro, the term then used to describe anyone with African blood, was or could ever be a citizen. The decision also invalidated the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had placed restrictions on slavery in certain U.S. territories. Northern abolitionists were outraged. The Dred Scott case became a rallying point for them and contributed to the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860.

In the 1800s, the topic of slavery grew extremely controversial as many people loved the idea of slaves while others loathed it. There were many events that contributed to the ceaseless debate regarding the abolition of slavery.

A Divided Nation

Compromise of 1850

The South Secedes

Election of 1860

Lincon-Douglas Debates

Dred Scott Decison

Kansas-Nebraska Act

"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. It will become all one thing or all the other." --Lincoln's 'House-Divided' Speech in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858.


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