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Ryan Maziarz

Honors U.S History

Long Essay Question
Prompt: Analyze the ways in which controversy over the extension of slavery into western
territories contributed to the coming of the Civil War. Confine your answer to the period 18451861.
The coming of the Civil War was solely caused by the controversy of expansion of
slavery into western territories. This is most predominantly seen in the Mexican Cession. The
compromise of 1850, and the Dred Scott decision. The controversy over slavery at this time was
a key debate, it seemed it was the only thing in the U.S. that was talked about. The time period in
which these specific events occur is after the annexation of Texas leading all the way to the Civil
The Mexican Cession caused a lot of debate because after the war with Mexico, the U.S.
gained half of Mexico. This led to an idea known as the Wilmont Proviso. This idea never
became law, but was heavily supported by the North. The idea was that al lands gained from
Mexico would be no-slave lands. This idea was debated constantly because the North continued
to bring it up. This gave the south a reason to get angry with the North.
The next event that caused a lot of debate and friction was the Compromise of 1850. This
idea was Henry Clays last idea. This was a five-part compromise that the North and the South
neither hated nor liked. The compromise said that Popular Sovereignty in states, Utah and New
Mexico, would decide the states status of slavery. The next part the South loved, but the North
hated, was a harsher fugitive slave law punishment. This became one of the most frictional
events because the North began to make laws on jails to avoid this. Abolition of slave trade in
Washington D.C. benefitted because in the South Washington D.C. would still have slavery, but
it was limited and D.C. would not be able to bring in new slaves. Another part was that
California was admitted as a free slave state. The North loved this because it would shift the
balance between the slave states and the free states, and it would also give the North another
free-slave state. The South was against this because they felt they were losing power in the
senate due to the unbalance of states. Finally, Texas was given 10 million for their land gained
from Mexico. No side liked this because the government was giving Texas money for land they
did not own in the first place. This cause the two sides to go head to head against another.
The las event that put tension over the edge was the Dred Scott decision. It was started
when Dred Scott tried to sue for his freedom. The outcome from the jury was that African
Americans, free or slave, cannot sue on the court or be tried/ witnesses. Scott was turned down
because of the 5th amendment that stated that a man cannot be denied his property. This went for
slaves and land. The South was overjoyed because they could bring their slaves into any
territory, and the North could not abolish slavery because they were the mans property. The
North was furious because it was unfair because they could not prevent slavery from spreading.
This was the event that made tensions so large they could not be avoided. The Dred Scott

decision also stated that Congress does not have the power to say whether a state is free or slave.
This is wrong because in the Northwest Ordinance congress stated that the lands gained on the
North were slave-free. In fact, Congress, did have the power to decide. This decision made both
sides furious with one another, and both sides could not take it anymore.