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Causes of Civil War

Terms in this set (28)

In 1819, the senate had a balance of power from an equal representation of free and slave states. When the territory of Missouri had reached the minimum population requirement to apply for statehood, there was a threat to the sectional balance of power in the senate. Missouri wanted to be a slave state. Henry Clay, a whig senator from Kentucky, proposed a solution to this problem. Missouri would enter as a slave state however Maine would enter as a free state. Main had formerly been an extension of Massachusetts into the north. To prevent further issues, Clay proposed that territories applying for statehood from the Louisiana purchase could not have slaves if they were above 36 degrees and 30 degrees, only applying to slaves at the moment. It shows that the issue of slave state and free state was so prevalent that it needed to be resolved: what had before been an issue that politically was trying to be overlooked now was heightening the North-South divide.
It contributed to the division and disagreement between north and south regarding the issue of slavery and made the issue more contentious between the two sides of the country. The Missouri Compromise was meant to create balance between slave and non-slave states. With it, the country was equally divided between slave and free states. Admitting Missouri as a slave state gave the south one more state than the north. Adding Maine as a free state balanced things out again. Thomas Jefferson predicted dividing the country this way would eventually lead the country into Civil War: heightening the divide was only adding to the mounting tension between North and South.
Although slavery existed in all the thirteen colonies, slavery was most important in the South. The climate in the South was more suitable to plantation agriculture, while the Northern climate was not. " 'King Cotton' ensured that slavery survived and thrived." Cotton production in the South had a major contribution to the American economy. In fact, the importance of cotton in the economy ended up surpassing that of any other plantation crop contributing to the economy. It was so important in the American economy that it was given the name 'King Cotton' in society. "No power on earth dares to make war on cotton. - Cotton is king," said Senator James Hammond in 1858.'King Cotton' ensured that slavery survived and throve. In 1790, only 9,000 bales of cotton were produced in the USA. Eli Whitney's invention of a cotton engine in 1793 revolutionised Southern agriculture. It enabled short-fibre cotton (the only cotton which easily grew in the South) to be quickly separated from its seed. Suddenly, it became highly profitable to grow cotton and Southern farmers cashed in. By the 1830's, the South was producing 2 million bales per year.Cotton soon outstripped all other plantation crops in economic importance. From 1815 to 1860, cotton represented more than 50% of all US exports. Such was the demand (mainly from textile manufacturers in Britain), and such were the profits, that the cotton belt spread westwards - to Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. Cotton production needed a large amount of unskilled labour. Slave labour was ideal. Cotton and slavery, therefore, were interlinked. Southerners migrating westwards either took their slaves with them or purchased surplus 'stock', mainly from the upper South. In the 50 years before 1860, perhaps 1 million slaves relocated from the upper South to the lower South and from south-eastern to south-western slave states."
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, introduced by Senator Stephen A. Douglas was a bill designed to appeal to the South, proposing:
1) The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, introducing popular sovereignty instead
2) It divided the Nebraska territory in two: Kansas and Nebraska. There was little chance of slavery taking hold in Nebraska (the climate was too cold for plantation agriculture), but it seemed possible it might spread to Kansas.
Douglas, a great believer in popular sovereignty saw no problem in letting the people of Kansas-Nebraska decide their own fate. He was convinced that they would not vote for slavery, and as a supporter of manifest destiny he did not want settlement of the West stalled by sectional controversy. He miscalculated, and the North was angered: it was proof to many Northerners that the Slave Power Conspiracy (A Northern notion that Southerners were plotting to expand slavery). Bill became law in May 1845, but by failing to predict the extent of Northern outrage it generated, Douglas weakened his party, damaged his presidential ambition, and helped revive North-South rivalry. It became a key factor in the demise of the Whig party, it creates a divide within the party which before had avoided the topic of slavery: their strategy of not speaking to the issue of slavery they alienate their supporters in the North. Whigs had tried to take a pro-catholic stance to attract the masses of immigrants from Ireland and Germany, which backfires as the anti-immigrants leave, and most of the catholics vote democrat anyways. Due to nativism and opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Whig party had its demise.
By repealing the Missouri Compromise, people in the anti-slavery north viewed Congress as allowing the south to exert more control in Congress, and they resented it. It also made the south seem more aggressive in their pro-slavery sentiments. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise lead to the formation of the anti-slavery Republican party. The act also led to a further increase in the level of passion over the slavery issue, both in words and deeds.