- A good census was taken; this tells us some important information about the nation.

Characteristics of 1850 America: • 16 non-slave states, 15 slave states; • Kansas and Nebraska are still territories; • 23 million people, most living in rural areas;
– 3.5 million blacks;


• Largest population growth occurring in the middle west, areas that were not even states yet; • Agriculture still primary way of making a living;

Forces of disharmony in 1850: 1. Local focus of most Americans: not generally interested in commonality of Americans; 2. Pluralism of America: people divided religiously, ethnically (immigration on the rise- 2 million Americans in 1850 not born in the U.S.), etc.; 3. Sectionalism: nation divided North, South, East, and West, and these divisions were real and serious. Sections divided in terms of economic bases and political beliefs. Slavery an important issue the divided the sections.

Every discussion of the causes of the Civil War must begin here. Two crucial points: 1.) the Civil War was not a war fought over whether to eliminate slavery from the nation; 2.) slavery was a crucial catalyst that brought other issues to a point where war seemed necessary to many people. In other words, slavery is not the cause of the Civil War, but without slavery, the war would have been very unlikely.

Slave population grew rapidly, as the institution grew:

»1740's: 300,000 slaves »1776: 500,000 »1800: 894,000 »1850: 3,204,000 »1860: 3,954,000

How important was slavery? • Some evidence that it was very important- by 1806 "slave codes" had emerged throughout the South. These laws were designed to keep slaves in their "place." • But-- slave holders were only a minority of Americans, and even a minority of Southerners: – 1850, only 347,000 of 6 million Southerners held slaves; – 1/2 of these had fewer than 4 slaves; – fewer than 8,000 owned 50 or more slaves; – fewer than 2,000 had more than 100 slaves.


How important was slavery?
• Clearly the big-time plantation owner was a rare person, so why was slavery so important to Southerners? 2 key factors:
1.) nearly all Southerners wanted to be big-time owners; 2.) a rental system developed where large owners rented slaves to small owners. 3.) racial solidarity These factors combine to give a large portion of the South a stake in the system. When this stake is combined with the economic impact of, and eventual reliance upon, slaves, the entrenchment of the institution became virtually inevitable.


Some have argued that if Southerners would have been content to keep slavery in the states were it had existed the Civil War would have been unnecessary. Southerners were not so willing. A couple of major motivations for their desire to expand were: 1.) to protect themselves politically from an antislave majority in the federal government; 2.) the possible wealth that could be obtained by expanding their slave empire. Many Northerners wanted to ensure that slavery did not spread- for economic, political, and moral/ethical reasons. This set up the likelihood of conflict as states were added to the union.

Territorial Expansion

The first major dispute over the addition of territory to the union occurred in 1819-20 with the possible addition of Missouri to the nation. • The number of free and slave states were equal (11 each), and neither side wanted to give the advantage to the other. • At first there appeared to be a stalemate in the government about how to add territory, but the impasse was broken when Henry Clay helped to work out a compromise:  Missouri would enter as a slave state,  Maine as a free state,  No new territory north of the 36°30' line (except Missouri itself) would be allowed to have slavery.

Missouri Compromise

Missouri Compromise

Missouri Compromise
A look at a map of the U.S. in 1820 (p. 248) shows that there was not much land south of the 36°30' line for the expansion of slavery. Why would Southerners accept this compromise? • First, the general belief about much of the West was that it was the “Great American Desert.” • Additionally many Southerners hoped for the expansion of the U.S. into land held by Mexico (consider the later Mexican War) and even the Caribbean islands.

Problems of Sectional Balance in 1850 • California statehood. • Southern “fire-eaters” threatening secession. • Underground RR & fugitive slave issues: * Personal liberty laws * Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842)

Territory from Mexico and the Compromise of 1850
Many opposed the war with Mexico as a territory grab that would play into the hands of the South and allow for the extension of slavery. • In 1846, Cong. David Wilmot introduced a resolution to prohibit slavery from any territory acquired from the Mexican War. The "Wilmot Proviso". The proviso was defeated, but the issue remained.

Territory from Mexico and the Compromise of 1850
John C. Calhoun countered Wilmot by arguing that the territories were the common possession of all Americans therefore all Americans had the right to take their property to the territories- including slaves. • To prohibit slavery would be to deny Americans their basic due process right of possession of their property. Thus, the Bill of Rights guaranteed the right to possess slaves. • These arguments were not adopted by Congress either, but indicated future conflict.

Territory from Mexico and the Compromise of 1850
Michigan Sen. Lewis Cass introduced a middle option• “Popular Sovereignty." Allow the citizens of the territories to administer their own affairs. By a popular vote, they could decide whether to have slavery.

Territory from Mexico and the Compromise of 1850 Another compromise produced by Henry Clay- The Compromise of 1850. • Among the important components of this compromise were:  the admission of Calif. as a free state;  the organization of the rest of the southwest without restriction as to slavery;  end use of District of Columbia as slave depot;  more rigorous fugitive slave law passed. Compromise took 7 months of debate. Many thought the issue of slavery and the territories was finally settled. It was not to be so.

Compromise of 1850

1852 Presidential Election

Franklin Pierce Democrat

Gen. Winfield Scott John Parker Hale Whig Free Soil

1852 Election Results

1856 Presidential Election

James Buchanan

Millard Fillmore Whig

John C. Frémont Republican

Kansas and Nebraska
• Many Northerners were anxious to build a transcontinental railroad, and of course they wanted it built through the North. To do so, they needed to organize territories in the West (Kansas and Nebraska). Southerners were eager to have the railroad built through their section, so another compromise appears necessary- of course slavery will be a crucial issue.

• The Nebraska territory, where the railroad was most likely to go, was north of the 36°30'line established by the Missouri Compromise. To give their votes for laws necessary to organize Kansas and Nebraska, Southern congressmen demanded the option of expanding slavery into these areas.

Kansas and Nebraska

• Stephen Douglas (D-Illinois) wrote a bill to organize Kansas and Nebraska. The KansasNebraska Act, said the issue of slavery in the territories should be decided by popular sovereignty. • Douglas thought he was avoiding conflict, since as Kansas would most likely come in slave, being next to Missouri, and Nebraska would most likely come in free. This would keep the relative balance between the sections. • However, there was no avoiding conflict over slavery in the U.S. at this time.

Kansas and Nebraska

Stephen Douglas & the Freeport Doctrine

Popular Sovereignty?

Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854

• Many Northerners were furious over the Kansas-Nebraska Act, as it amounted to a repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Even Northerners who were not abolitionists were angry- the K-N Act represented a breech of trust. If Southerners did not respect the Missouri Compromise, then perhaps Northerners would not respect the new, tougher fugitive slave law. The tenuous balance struck by the Compromise of 1850 had been destroyed.

Kansas and Nebraska

• The K-N Act destroyed the 2 party system that had existed to that time. The Whig party fell apart over the slavery issue, and the Democrats became more of a Southern party. A new party emerged- the Republicans.

Kansas and Nebraska

• Violence erupted in Kansas, between pro- and antislavery forces. • With popular sovereignty to decide the slavery issue, both sides sent as many people as they could to vote. • These political opponents rapidly became warring factions, and terrorist activities began. Examples:
– Pro-slavery forces attacked the free-state town of Lawrence, KS, destroying newspaper presses, and even training 5 cannon on the Free State hotel, destroying it. – These actions provoked an effort of revenge by John Brown. Brown and four of his sons attacked a pro-slavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek- they chopped 5 men to death, in cold blood, with swords. This Pottawatomie Massacre set off a running guerilla war.

Kansas and Nebraska

“Bleeding Kansas”

John Brown: Madman, Hero or Martyr?

Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854

“The Crime Against Kansas”

Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA)

Congr. Preston Brooks (D-SC)

Kansas and Nebraska
• The dispute over "Bleeding Kansas" even produced violence in the Congress. • During the debate over Kansas, Senators Charles Sumner (Mass.) and A.P. Butler (S. Car.) squared off. Sumner became particularly rude in his arguments, accusing Butler of taking a mistress (the mistress was slavery), and even poked fun at Butler's speech defect that was the result of a stroke. • The cousin of Butler, Cong. Preston Brooks attacked Sumner while Sumner sat at his desk, beating him mercilessly with a cane. Sumner suffered brain damage and never fully recovered.

– Sumner became a martyr for the cause. – Brooks was expelled from the House, but overwhelmingly reelected. In fact, people from all across the South sent him canes to replace the one he broke over Sumner's skull, and perhaps to use on other abolitionists.

Kansas and Nebraska
• Out in Kansas, the problems continued. 2 separate governments were formed. • When the territorial governor called for elections, thousands of "Border Ruffians" spilled over the border with Missouri to throw the election to the proslavery forces. Created a pro-slavery (Lecompton) government. • Anti-slavery forces then refused to recognize the new government. Held their own convention and elected a anti-slavery (Topeka) legislature. • The controversy aggravated the fighting in KS and in Washington. • Kansas, by 1858, began to withdraw from the national stage as an active political dispute, but served as a sign of the looming civil war.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
1811 - 1896
“So this is the lady who started the Big War.” ► Abraham Lincoln

Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852
•Sold 300,000 copies in first year. •2 million copies sold in a decade.

Birth of the Republican Party, 1854
•Northern Whigs. •Northern Democrats. •Free-Soilers. •Know-Nothings. •Other miscellaneous opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

1856 Election Results

Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857

Dred Scot v. Sanford
• Dred Scott first went to trial to sue for his freedom in 1847. Ten years later, his case was finally brought before the United States Supreme Court. • The court decided that all people of African ancestry -- slaves as well as those who were free -- could never become citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue in federal court. • The court also ruled that the federal government did not have the power to prohibit slavery in its territories. Scott, needless to say, remained a slave.

The Lincoln-Douglas (Illinois Senate) Debates, 1858

A House divided against itself, cannot stand.

John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry, 1859

√Abraham Lincoln

1860 Constitutional Union Presidential Election
John C. Breckinridge Southern Democrat

John Bell

Stephen A. Douglas Northern Democrat

1860 Election: A Nation Coming Apart?!

Republican Party Platform in 1860
1. Non-extension of slavery [for the FreeSoilers]. 2. Protective tariff [for the No. Industrialists]. 3. No abridgment of rights for immigrants [a disappointment for the “Know-Nothings”]. 4. Government aid to build a Pacific RR [for the Northwest]. 5. Internal improvements [for the West] at federal expense. 6. Free homesteads for the public domain [for farmers].

• The election of 1860 - a political mess. • Sectional divisions over the slavery issues caused
– the Whig Party to die, – the Democratic Party to split between the sections, – a Free Soil Party to form, and, finally, a Republican Party to form from a combination of Whigs and Free Soilers.

1860 Election of Abraham Lincoln

• In the election of 1860, 4 parties were represented.

• Abraham Lincoln was the Republican nominee.
– – – –

1860 Election of Abraham Lincoln

he had been a Whig, had served in the Illinois legislature, had served one term in Congress, had made a good showing for himself in a Senate campaign (and legendary debates) against Stephen Douglas. – Lincoln won the election with 180 electoral votes, more than all the other candidates combined.
• His popular vote victory, however, was not nearly so substantial.

• The key issue in this election- Lincoln won the election without receiving a single electoral vote from the South. – Not even on the ballot in states that would become Confederacy. • This outcome caused the South to feel as though it had no voice in the political structure of the U.S. – Previous presidents had insulated them from alleged attempts to ‘damage their rights’
• 8 of first 10- 12 of first 15- Presidents owned slaves.

1860 Election of Abraham Lincoln

– Lincoln could win without them, future presidents could also. The South had been critical in the past for presidential success- but no longer.

1860 Election Results

Crittenden Compromise:
A Last Ditch Appeal to Sanity

Senator John J. Crittenden (KnowNothingKY)


Fort Sumter: April 12, 1861

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