The 1800’s were a tumultuous time for the United States of America. At that time the south was typically slave and the northerners were traditionally for freedom. The slave states of the south and the abolitionist in the north were quarreling and the government recognizing that made efforts to stop or delay the civil war. In 1819 Missouri wanted to enter the Union a slave state. At this time the 22 states of the Union were divided evenly 11 slave and 11 free. Northern states were afraid that if Missouri entered as a slave state it would give the south a majority in the senate.
Southerners argued that since the north had a majority in the House of Representatives that it was only fair that they had a majority in the senate. Then in December 1819 three northern counties of Massachusetts broke away and asked to be admitted to enter the Union as a free state(Maine). This made the Missouri Compromise possible. The Missouri compromise said that Missouri would be a slave state and Maine would be admitted as a free state, it also said that any state in the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri’s southern border would be a free state.
This action delayed a deadly confrontation between the North and the South, at least for awhile. Then in 1828 congress raised the tariff on imported goods. In the south they didn’t have very much industry so they had to import most of their good, so the tariffs were unpopular their. One state that protested this action by congress. Since the North had more industry, the South felt that congress was protecting the North by raising these tariffs. South Carolina was the strongest protester of these tariffs.
South Carolina supported John C. Calhoun who said that a state could nullify or veto a national law within it’s own boundaries. In 1832 South Carolina’s state legislature declared the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 null or void. They went even further by saying that if the government tried to make them pay the tariff they would break away from the union. Then President Andrew Jackson, who had said that the union must be preserved, stated that he strongly opposed this nullification. Jackson also let it be know that he would send 50,000 troops into South Carolina.
This action scared South Carolina, and when they asked other states for help they got no promises of military aid. Finally seeing that his state was in bad shape John C. Calhoun asked Henry Clay to help him come up with compromise. They came up with a law that would lower tariff annually over a 10 year period until they were satisfactory. After the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis were dealt with things were relatively quiet for awhile. Then in 1850 California requested admission to the union as a free state. California was the first state applying for state hood in the Mexican Cession.
Southerners feared if California was a free state the rest of the territory would be too. Northerners felt they had to stop the spread of slavery to end it altogether. Then came another attempt to resolve the conflicts between the North and the South. In January of 1850 Senator Henry Clay proposed a plan. His plan was divided into six parts. The first part was that California would be admitted to the Union as a non-slave state. The second part was that Utah and New Mexico could decide if they wanted to be slave states of free states when they applied for statehood.
The third and Fourth parts were tied into each other, the third part was that Land in dispute between New Mexico and Texas would go to New Mexico and for giving up this land Texas would receive 10 million dollars. The fifth part was that buying and selling of slaves but not slavery wouldn’t be allowed in the District of Columbia. The sixth and final part was that congress would enforce a law stating that runaway slaves must be returned to their owners. The bill was passed section by section until it became law. This again delayed the inevitable. Slavery: Slavery was one of the issues that the northerners and the southerners fought about.
In the south the main way of life was agriculture, the main cash crop was cotton. Cotton was a labor consuming crop, it would cost a man a fortune to pay people to work for him. Slaves were the answer to this problem. Slave owners didn’t see the slaves as people he saw him as property. Slaves were treated bad. Even the owners who saw themselves as fair still treated their slaves as dogs. They were regularly beaten, they worked from dawn till dark for free. This unfair treatment was a reason why many slaves wanted to escape, or runaway from their masters to free states where they would be free.
One way they escaped was the underground railroad. It was called the underground railroad because it was secret and the slaves were hidden at secret “stations” along the way, the people who guided the escaping slaves were called conductors. One famous conductor was Harriet Tubman. She guided many many slaves to freedom. Another famous slave was Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a slave who had been taken to Illinois, a free state, then to the Wisconsin territory where slavery was outlawed by the Missouri compromise. He was then returned to Missouri by his master.
Dred Scott then sued his masters widow for his freedom saying that it was illegal to be taken to a free state then taken back into slavery. The supreme court decided that slaves weren’t citizens so they didn’t have the right to sue. The supreme court also decided that slaves were property, and the bill of rights protected property therefore congress couldn’t outlaw slavery in any of the territories. This decision in the Dred Scott case pleased many southerners they felt that now the new states would now be able to choose to be slave states.
The decision angered many northerners they felt that slaves were more than property and felt that this ruling was unfair. In 1854 there was a bill that formed two territories in the Louisiana Purchase, these states were Kansas and Nebraska. The bill also said that even though these territories were north of the anti-slavery line the people of the territory would have a chance to vote whether to be free or slave. This bill would allow southerners to try and add another slave state to the Union. Pro slavery people started moving into the Kansas territory.
The state of Missouri started recruiting settler who were for slavery and sent them to settle in the new territories. In 1855 people from Missouri crossed the border and voted illegally. The legislature in Kansas started making pro-slavery laws. This angered the anti-slavery people so they formed their own government. With two governments fighting for control law and order broke apart. People started fighting and bloodshed took place this it became known as Bleeding Kansas. There were raids and murders. One group pro-slavery group destroyed the town of Lawrence and the antislavery newspaper there.
As a rebuttal to this act an abolitionist from Ohio named John Brown and his sons murdered five pro-slavery activists, in Pottawatomie Creek. John Brown was a fanatical abolitionists after this massacre in Pottawatomie he moved east. He was financially supported there by other abolitionists. On October 16, 1859 Brown led a group of 18 men in a raid to take the government arsenal at Harpers Ferry, VA. They wanted to take the guns here then they hoped that slaves in the area would rebel and come and get the guns.
Marines surrounded them. When Brown wouldn’t surrender the Marines stormed him and captured him. He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. Another Famous Abolitionist was Harriet Beecher Stowe. She wrote the famous book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was a book about the way slaves were treated. At this time many northerners had never even seen a black person so many opinions of slavery were formed from this book. Uncle Tom’s Cabin made many people who could have cared less about slavery become abolitionists hard core.