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Sectionalism: North & South/ Antebellum Reform

Terms in this set (95)

Western Expansion
After President Thomas Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United
States doubled in size. This purchase gave the United States control of the vast lands west
of the Mississippi. As Americans pushed west, the issue of slavery came to the forefront.
Would the new territories of the United States be slave or free?

Missouri Compromise
The first confrontation over slavery in the West occurred in 1819. Missouri applied for
admission to the Union as a slave state. The admission of Missouri would upset the
balance of power in the Senate where at the time there were 11 free states and 11 slave
states. Senator Henry Clay proposed a compromise. In 1820, he suggested that Missouri
enter as a slave state and Maine as a free state to keep the balance of power. Congress
also drew an imaginary line across the Louisiana Purchase at 36 degrees 30 minutes north
latitude. North of the line would be free states (with the exception of Missouri), and south
of the line would be slave states.

Compromise of 1850
In 1850, California applied for admission as a free state. Once again, the balance of
power in the Senate was threatened. The South did not want to give the North a majority
in the Senate. They also feared that more free states would be carved from the Mexican
cession. Once again, Clay, the "Great Compromiser," pleaded for compromise. John C.
Calhoun, a senator of South Carolina stated the South would not compromise. He
demanded that slavery be allowed in the western territories and that there be a tough
fugitive-slave law. Daniel Webster of Maine offered a solution to keep the Union
together. The Compromise of 1850 had four parts: 1) California entered as a free state. 2)
The rest of the Mexican cession was divided into New Mexico and Utah. In each state,
voters would decide the issue of slavery. 3) Slave trade was ended in Washington D.C. 4)
A strict new fugitive-slave law was passed.

Fugitive Slave Law
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was very controversial. It required that all citizens were
obligated to return runaway slaves. People who helped slaves escape would be jailed and
fined. The law enraged Northerners because it made them feel a part of the slave system.
Persons involved with the Underground Railroad worked to subvert the law.

Uncle Tom's Cabin
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. This novel told of the story of
Uncle Tom, an enslaved African American, and his cruel master, Simon Legree. In the
novel, Stowe wrote of the evils and cruelty of slavery. While it is argued whether the
book was a true portrayal of slavery, the novel still had an enormous influence. The book
sold more than 300,000 copies, was published in many languages, and was made into a
play. It also helped change the way many Northerners felt about slavery. Slavery was
now not only a political problem but a moral problem.

Kansas-Nebraska Act
In 1854, Stephen Douglas introduced a bill to help solve the problem of slavery in the
new Nebraska territory. He proposed that Nebraska be divided into two territories —
Kansas and Nebraska. The settlers of the new territories would decide whether they
would be slave or free. This proposal set off a storm of controversy because it effectively
undid the Missouri Compromise. Southerners supported the act, while Northerners felt it
was a betrayal. The Act set off bitter violence in the Kansas territory. More than 200
people died over the issue of slavery. The area became known as Bleeding Kansas. Anti-
and pro-slavery forces set up rival governments. The town of Lawrence was destroyed by
pro-slavery forces. In revenge, John Brown and a small group killed five pro-slavery
supporters in the middle of the night.

Dred Scott Decision
In 1857, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in the Dred Scott case.
Dred Scott was a slave who applied for freedom. He claimed that because his master had
taken him to the free territories of Illinois and Wisconsin, he should be free. The court
ruled that because Dred Scott was not considered a citizen, but property, he could not file
a lawsuit. The Court also ruled that Congress had no power to decide the issue of slavery
in the territories. This meant that slavery was legal in all the territories and the Missouri
Compromise was unconstitutional.

Harpers Ferry Raid
In 1859, John Brown and a group of followers organized a raid on Harpers Ferry,
Virginia, a federal arsenal. Brown hoped that slaves would come to the arsenal and he
would then lead a massive slave uprising. It was Brown's belief that slavery could be
ended only through the use of violence. Brown was unsuccessful, and troops led by
Robert E. Lee killed 10 raiders and captured John Brown. He was found guilty of murder
and treason and sentenced to death. Brown conducted himself with great composure
during his trial. While many northerners thought his plan to lead a slave revolt was
misguided, they also saw Brown as a hero. Southerners felt that the North wanted to
destroy slavery and the South along with it.

Election of 1860
In the mid-1850s, people who opposed slavery were looking for a new voice. Free
Soilers, Northern Democrats, and anti-slavery Whigs formed the Republican Party. Their
main goal was to keep slavery out of the western territories, not to end slavery in the
South. The party grew and was ready in 1856 to challenge the older parties in power.
They were not successful in 1856. In 1860, the Republicans ran Abraham Lincoln from
Illinois. Lincoln was known to oppose slavery on the basis of its being morally wrong.
However, Lincoln was not willing to end slavery at the risk of tearing the Union apart.

Secession of the South
The Southerners' reaction to the election of President Lincoln was strong. They felt that
the country had put an abolitionist in the White House. The South felt that secession was
the only option. In 1860, South Carolina seceded from (left) the Union. By February of
1861, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi had seceded. In

1861, the seven states held a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed the
Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was named the President.
The South felt they had the right to secede. The Declaration of Independence stated that
"it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish" a government that denies the rights of
its citizens. Lincoln, they believed, would deny them the right to own slaves.

Beginning of Civil War
After Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861, he announced that no state can lawfully
leave the Union. He declared, however, there would be no war unless the South started it.
The South started to take possession of all Federal buildings — forts and post offices.
The South took control of the three forts in Florida and was ready to take control of Fort
Sumter in South Carolina. In April, 1861, the Confederates asked for the fort's surrender.
Major Robert Anderson of the Union refused to surrender. The Confederate troops
proceeded to shell Fort Sumter. Anderson ran out of ammunition and was forced to
surrender. The war had begun.