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The Civil War: The Dissolution of the Union

Missouri Applies for Statehood – 1819
in 1819, Missouri wanted to join the Union as a Slave State, even though Missouri is in the north. This move would make the balance of power in the Congress unequal. Many northerners were opposed to the idea. Northerners in Congress refused to pass the bill. Northerners proposed that Missouri be slave and that no more slaves were to be brought in and all slave children would be free at the age of 25, so Missouri would become a Free State.

Missouri Compromise- 1820
Southerners were opposed to the idea brought up by northerners. The Congress was in debate for many months. Henry Clay proposed that Maine enter the Union as a Free State, and the boundaries of slavery were limited to the same latitude as the southern boundary of Missouri: 36° 30` north latitude. The South agreed since plantations would not be able to thrive further north of that line. Many concerned Americans thought the slavery issue was resolved.

Tariff Issue – 1828
In 1828, A Tariff was passed to help try to protect New England manufacturers. The tariff was as high as 45% to 50% of the original European price. Opponents of the tariff called it the “Tariff of Abomination”. Southerners were opposed to the tariff because they exported cotton and other materials to Europe in exchange European goods were
imported to America. Southerners claimed it was an indirect tax on their region of the United States. Southerners began to ask for States’ rights. South Carolina even went as far as to ask for the tariff to be taken off the books or they would secede from the Union. Under this pressure, the tariff was lowered by Congress.

Abolitionism – 1800’s
Abolitionism was around before the 1830’s, but it became a more radical during this time. Before 1830, Benjamin Lundy ran an anti-slavery newspaper. In 1829, Lundy hired William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison went on to publish his own newspaper, called the Liberator. Many people also favored a Colonization movement in which freed slaves would move to Liberia, which was founded in 1822 in Africa by former slaves. In 1815, Paul Cuffe, believing that free slaves would have a better life if they didn’t face racial discrimination, took 38 blacks to Africa with him. In 1829, David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World endorsed a more radical position than anyone had previously done. In 1834, Theodore Weld, a young religious man, led a revival among the students at Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. Many of the students converted to the doctrine, which called for immediate emancipation of slaves. Most of the conservative trustees suppressed all anti-slavery legislation. Weld and his followers then went from town to town preaching their anti-slavery messages. The Underground Railroad was a big key in the fight against slavery. “Conductors” would take slaves on the back country roads at night until they either reached the north, and many slaves took the railroad to Canada. Abolitionism contributed to the start of the Civil War because it separated the northern and southern states even more than they already were.

Wilmot Proviso – 1846
After the United States went to war with Mexico, a win meant more land, but the Missouri Compromise of 1820 only dealt with the Louisiana Territory. One night in 1846, David Wilmot of Pennsylvania proposed an answer. His plan said any land acquired from Mexico was to be free land.
The House passed the bill, but it was rejected by the Senate. The bill was able to pass in the House because it was controlled by Northerners but it was unable to pass in the Senate because it was controlled by Southerners. This was a big issue because it showed that there was little that either side could to pass a law that one side favored, but the other didn’t. This merely showcased a continuing rift between the north and south that would last until the Civil War.

California Applies for Statehood – 1849
In 1849, Gold was discovered in California, which sent tens of thousands of people to California. Later, California applied for statehood as a Free State, but since there were 15 Free States and 15 Slave States the south opposed the move and northerners agreed with the idea. Debate in
Congress lasted for months. If California was admitted in to the Union as a Free State the south would not be able to stop any bill from passing since the north would gain control of the entire Congress with California’s admission as a Free State, and if California was admitted as a slavery state, the south gain control of the Congress. Neither side wanted to disrupt the balance of power in Congress.

Compromise of 1850
Henry Clay stepped in one more time, with the idea that
California be admitted as a Free State but the rest of the southwest territories choose whether or not to be a Slave State by popular sovereignty, which would allow the people vote for slavery or freedom for slaves in those territories. As an additional measure, he suggested that the District of Columbia would abolish slave trade and Congress would pass a strong fugitive slave law. Clay had bargained his plan amongst Congress for six months, and he ultimately gained support from his long-time rival Daniel Webster. John Calhoun was opposed to compromise. But, too ill to speak, James Madison read Calhoun’s speech. President Taylor was opposed to the plan but he died suddenly. His successor, President Millard Fillmore, suggested that Congress should pass the bill. This again showed there was a large separation between the north and south that would ultimately lead to the Civil War.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – 1852
After the Fugitive Slave Bill was passed there was a great hatred for slavery. In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel was published. The book was written about a slave escaping from slavery, the breakup of many slave families and marriages, and the effects of slavery on blacks. Stowe’s work created an uproar that led to southerners saying that slaves were treated “much better” than there the treatment that was portrayed in the book. Many northerners who read the book or saw the play came to the conclusion that they must stop the Fugitive Slave Bill.

Ostend Manifesto – 1854
After Franklin Pierce was elected President in 1852; northerners discovered that Pierce sympathized with the southerner’s goals. They also learned that Pierce was attempting to buy Cuba from Mexico. Northerners knew that if Cuba was bought then it would be a Slave State. In 1854,
three of Pierce’s diplomats went to Ostend, Belgium to discuss a treaty with Spain in which the US would buy Cuba. If their attempts failed, the Ostend Manifesto would be enacted. The Manifesto said that Americans might be justified in taking the island by force. Pierce denied the whole thing. Northerners claimed it was an attempt to spread slavery.

Kansas-Nebraska Act – 1854
Stephan Douglas of Illinois introduced a bill in which the Nebraska territories west of Iowa and Missouri would be organized. Douglas also wanted to make a transcontinental railroad by expanding the existing lines from Chicago to the Pacific. Douglas would only allow the railroad to only be established if the Nebraska Territory was organized. Under the Compromise of 1820, slavery was to be banned in that territory. Many southerners agreed with Calhoun that slavery should be open to all territories. Many members of Congress refused to pass the bill until it allowed slavery. Douglas proposed that the territory be divided into the Kansas and Nebraska territories, and those territories would use popular sovereignty to decide the issue of slavery. Congress finally passed the bill. Northerners
vociferously protested the revocation of the Missouri Compromise, saying that the bill could be used to open slavery in any territory.

“Bleeding Kansas” – 1856
After the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed many pro-slavery people from Missouri came to Kansas so they could vote to make Kansas a Slave State. The first vote happened and pro-slavery won. The North said that all of the people from Missouri had voted illegally and so the vote did not count. So many anti-slavery people from the North flocked to Kansas. Finally, the north and south clashed over the issue that had been debated from many years and a small-scale civil war broke out. This was the first skirmish between the north and south that ultimately led to the beginning of the Civil War.

Dred Scott Decision – 1857
The Dred Scott Decision was close to a final straw. Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, was taken to war with his master in two Free States. When his master died, many Abolitionists aided his fight from freedom. The decision was handed down by Judge Taney. Taney said the blacks had no rights whatsoever in America. It shocked the north but the south was pleased. Southern Radicals knew that they could not loose their slaves. The ruling caused the Abolitionists to loose ground in their fight to end slavery while Southerners had won ground in keeping slavery alive.

John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry – 1859
On the Night of October 15, 1859, John Brown, a radical abolitionist, led a band of 18 men into Harper’s Ferry and took the weapons in the town and waited for the slaves to help and rebel against their masters. This act “proved” southern fear of a slave rebellion. The south passed many more strict rules for slaves and pushed even harder for succession from the Union.

Lincoln Elected – 1860
Abraham Lincoln a moderate abolitionist from Illinois, ran in most states (he was not on the ballot in 10 southern states). Lincoln won despite all of the odds against him. After Lincoln was elected, the south burned him in effigy. The south felt that all hope was lost. Finally, on the day Lincoln was inaugurated, the Confederate Army had been formed began to rise.

Secession – 1861
By April 14, 1861, 7 states had left the Union. On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis began the President of the Confederate States. One last push was made to keep the Union from splitting apart, which failed. The gap between the north and the south was too complicated to be solved by diplomatic means. As this point, the Civil War was inevitable, and started shortly thereafter. The rest, as they say, is history.