The Sectional Crisis

The Sectional Crisis
A.P. U.S. History
Mr. Krueger
Compromise, Slavery, and the
Mexican Cession
 The Constitution gave the Federal Government the right to
abolish the international slave trade.
 It was easy to condemn slavery in principle, but difficult to
eliminate it without defying the Constitution.
 Radical Abolitionists said a higher law existed prohibiting
human bondage.
 1844 – William Lloyd Garrison publicly burned the
Constitution calling it “A Covenant with Death, an Agreement
with Hell!”
 1840’s – majority of northerners disliked slavery, they also
detested abolitionists.
North and South Views
 North view: Slave holders were power-hungry aristocrats
seeking national political influence
 The Constitution had not predetermined the status of slavery
in future states
 Congress could admit states under any conditions
 A majority could require the abolition of slavery as a price for
 Missouri Compromise – set the stage for a division (line)
between slave and free states.
 Slavery south of the line, and prohibited north of the line
 How did the Mexican Cession create problems within the
United States?
Free Soil Crusade
 David Wilmot proposed an amendment that would ban
slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico
 Wilmot and some northern Democrats felt they were
Polk’s choice over Van Buren
Pro southern policies of Polk
Tariffs were reduced and manufacturers were not protected
Polk vetoed a bill to provide federal funds for improvement of
harbors and rivers
 Polk went back on his pledge to acquire all of Oregon
 Is this a conspiracy?
Southern Conspiracy
 They were convinced that the South was dominating the
party and administration
 Wilmot was jealous of the power of the south
 He felt the rights of white freemen shouldn’t be disgraced by
slavery in the territories
 Linked slavery to racism and appealed to a broad spectrum of
the north
 Northern Whigs back Wilmot’s Proviso
 Vote of the Wilmot Proviso:
 All Northern congressmen minus 2 Democrats vote in favor
 All Southern congressmen minus 2 Whigs voted against.
 Bill was blocked, defeated when it was forced to go back to the
 Sectional division –
 North States endorsed the Proviso
 South States opposed the Proviso
Squatter Sovereignty Discussion
 What was it?
 How does the Election of 1848 show sectional lines?
 Who wins?
 Why did people want to go to California?
 What unified the South?
 Henry Clay offered a series of resolutions to bring sectional
 The Compromise was proposed in 1850
 It took months to pass mainly due to Taylor’s disapproval, but
his VP Millard Fillmore like the compromise
 Stephen Douglas was important in moving the ideas through
Congress. Gains both North and South support.
 The Compromise of 1850:
 North – California a free state, No slave auctions in D.C.
 South – Stronger Fugitive Slave Laws, Compensation to Texans,
Popular Sovereignty would be used in New Mexico and Utah,
Fugitive slaves lost constitutional rights
 The Compromise did serve for a time as a basis for sectional
 What is the Fugitive Slave Law?
Discussion: Politics
 What was going on in the world of politics around the election
of 1852?
 Why would Manifest Destiny reappear?
 How do the Whigs fair in this time period?
 What is the role of Big Business?
 Why does immigration become an issue?
Kansas – Nebraska Act
 1854 – Stephen Douglas proposed a bill to settle the land
west of Missouri and Iowa
 The Missouri Compromise had stated that these new territories
would become free states
 To head off opposition and keep the Democratic Party united
Douglas ignored the compromise, and proposed to settle the
territory by popular sovereignty
 Douglas believed in democracy and hoped to revive Manifest
Destiny, and to win the presidential nomination.
 Voting in Congress showed the amendment had split the
voting. Half of the Northern democrats voted against it.
 The bill allowed slavery in an area where it was previously
prohibited (North upset)
 The South felt obligated to support it.
Effects of the Act
 Major effect on Sectional Harmony
 Concessions on the extension of slavery without an equal
concession to the North
 Ended the second party system as the already weak Whig party
disintegrated as it divided along sectional lines.
 The Democrats survived, but its ability to act as a unifying
national force was impaired.
 The anti-democratic coalitions would evolve into a new
strong Free Soil Party (also called the republicans)
 Ostend Manifesto – acquire Cuba by any means
 American Ministers of England, France, and Spain met
 Plan was abandoned because the North felt this would create a
Slave Empire
Discussion – the Know Nothings
 What are Nativists?
 What did the Know Nothings want?
The Rise of the Republicans
 The new Republican Party was an outgrowth of the anti –
Nebraska coalition
 The name was first used in Wisconsin and Michigan
 Republicans argued the slave power conspiracy was a greater
threat to American equality than the alleged population plot.
 Showed a commitment to the values of native born Evangelical
Protestants. Supported causes that reflected this:
Anti – immigrant
Anti – Catholic
Defense of Religious institutions (Bible reading, Sabbath Day)
 Republicans were led by seasoned politicians (Past Whigs and
 Capable of Grass Roots organizations, Building Coalitions,
Popular Campaign Techniques
 Anti – Slavery and Free Soil
Cultural Sectionalism
 North and South split culturally along the issue of slavery. List
some examples:
Dred Scott Case
 President James Buchanan (Democrat) hoped the Supreme
Court would end the issue of slavery in the territories.
 Court Case: Dred Scott vs. Sanford
 Scott (Missouri) was taken to the WI territory by his master. His
master died, and he sued for his freedom based on the number
of the years he was in the north.
 March 6, 1857 Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled against Scott
 Scott could not sue because he wasn’t a citizen
 His residence in WI territory established no right to freedom because
Congress had no power to prohibit slavery.
 So the Missouri Compromise was basically declared unconstitutional
 Northern Republicans called the decision the “slave power
conspiracy” – 5 of the 6 judges were proslavery southerners.
 Called the decision the great crime of the republic, but the
decision helped them to become more cohesive.
Lecompton Controversy, John
Brown, and the Crisis of Fear
 Pro-slave advocates in Kansas felt it was time to draft a proslavery constitution and seek admission of Kansas to the US.
 Free states felt the vote was fixed, they boycotted the
convention putting the decision in the hands of pro-slavery.
 The drafted constitution was drawn up at Lecompton
 It was certain that the free majority would vote it down
 Lecompton Constitution was a perversion of popular sovereignty
strongly opposed by S. Douglas.
 President Buchanan tried to push it through the Senate –
fistfights ensued, but was defeated in the House by Repubs
and Douglas.
Crisis of Fear
 When Kansas became a free state (1858) slavery in the
territories temporarily lost its energy.
 Issues remained: Southerners wanted slaves in territories,
Republicans persisted to deny it.
 Events of 1859-1860 turned anxiety into a crisis of fear.
 Major incident – Raid on Harper’s Ferry (VA)
 Brown would use violence against slave owners
 A vision told him he was God’s chosen instrument
 He led 18 men (5 free blacks) across the Potomac to take the
arsenal – planned to arm the slave population
 Held out until a group of US marines led by Robert E. Lee
 He was financed by northern abolitionists, when captured he was
sentenced to be hanged
 To the South, Republicans, abolitionists, and J. Brown were all
Misplaced? Fears…
 The South’s greatest fear was the non-slaveholding south
(Helperism) would rise against the institution
 They would not tolerate an extreme republican as the
speaker of the House – went to Congress armed. A moderate
was chosen
 Slave prices were rising, ownership of slaves decreased, and
Pro-slavery extremists called for the reopening of the Atlantic
slave trade to lower prices.
 The south would not tolerate a republican to win the election
of 1860 – said they would secede
What about Lincoln? Discussion
 Extreme thought: Did Lincoln cause the Civil War?
 What happened during the election of 1860

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