Crisis of the Union Part I: A House Dividing. “To own a pow'r above themselves Their haughty pride disdains; And, therefore, in their stubborn mind No thought of God remains.”. From David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored People of the World.
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Crisis of the Union
Part I: A House Dividing
“To own a pow'r above themselves
Their haughty pride disdains;
And, therefore, in their stubborn mind
No thought of God remains.”
From David Walker’s
Appeal to the Colored People of the World
The U.S. Civil War goes by many names and what you call it shows your interpretation of it:
All three names relate to the war’s cause: a breakdown of federalism –– whether important issues would be answered on the national or state level. They avoid the most important issue that caused the breakdown: slavery. Slavery caused the war in two ways:
But slavery was not the “cause” (or purpose) of the war; neither side at the start of the war was fighting about slavery. Northerners were fighting for union. Southerners were fighting for a looser idea of union, where most authority resided in the states. Only after two years of fighting did the war become a war to end slavery. The War fundamentally changed the Constitutional debate over federalism, not to mention human rights.
Sectionalism:The idea that the U.S. was less a united nation of similar culture, economy, and politics, than it was a loose federation of unique sections.
Abolitionism: Beginning in the 1830s, it called for elimination of slavery everywhere.
Anti-Slavery, “Free Soil”: The view of opponents of slavery who argued that slavery may legally continue to exist where it already exists (i.e. the South), but that it should not be expanded into the new territories: the view of the Free Soil and Republican parties.
Pro-Slavery: View of supporters of slavery who argued that slavery was superior to the wage labor system in the North and was a “positive good” that benefited blacks and should be expanded into the new territories.
Necessary Evil: Majority view of Southerners toward slavery – that it was bad, but was economically and socially necessary.
Missouri Compromise (1820): First in a series of compromises over the extension of slavery into the western territories. Fashioned by Henry Clay, it (1) admitted Missouri as a slave state and (2) created Maine out of Massachusetts as a free state—thereby keeping an equal balance between free and slave states; and (3) drew a line along latitude 36:30 from the Mississippi to the Mexican territory dividing the region into free and slave territories: no slavery north of the line (except in Missouri).
Appeal to the Colored People of the World (1829):
Pamphlet by David Walker, a free black from Ohio, it called for slaves to rise-up in violent insurrection against the whites.
Nat Turner:Slave who led a rebellion against whites in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. At least 60 whites were killed in the uprising. The slaves, including Turner, were captured and hanged. The rebellion caused southern states to tighten control on slaves through stricter Slave Codes.
North Carolina v. Mann (a.k.a. State v. Mann)
Even before Nat Turner’s Rebellion, slaveowners had strictly controlled their slaves. An incident in North Carolina had established a slaveowner’s right physically to punish a slave.
The event occurred in Chowan County, in the late 1820s, and involved John Mann and a slave named Lydia. Mann shot Lydia when she tried to escape a whipping. He was convicted of battery and fined $5. Mann appealed and the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
In his opinion, NC Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin declared, “the power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.” If someone other than the master or the master’s agent harmed a slave, then they could be punished by law. But the slaveowner’s power over his/her property was absolute, even possibly to the point of killing their slave.
William Lloyd Garrison: Leading abolitionist, he began publishing The Liberator in Boston in 1831.
The radical abolitionist newspaper threatened southerners: “Let Southern oppressors tremble,” it declared, “let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble.” Garrison insisted he would do what was necessary to bring an end to slavery: “I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch,” and most famously he declared, “AND I WILL BE HEARD.” Garrisonbecame a key voice of abolitionism in the North
Frederick Douglass:Slave who escaped from a plantation in Maryland and fled north to Rochester, NY. In 1845, he published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and began an abolitionist newspaper, entitled North Star -- a reference to what the slaves should follow to freedom. During the war, he met with President Lincoln to urge him to make the war about slavery and to urge him to emancipate the slaves.
Underground Railroad:Secret network set up by opponents of slavery to enable runaway slaves to hide in private homes on their way to freedom in the North or Canada. One of the most famous conductors in the railway was an escaped slave, Harriet Tubman
Compromise of 1850: Agreement on how to organize territories gained in the Mexican War; major provisions were (1) admission of California as a free state; (2) assumption of the Texas debt; (3) abolition of the slave trade in D.C.; (4) strengthening of the Fugitive Slave laws. It was the last act of Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, but it owed its enactment to Stephen A. Douglas (D-IL).
Fugitive Slave Act:Part of the Compromise of 1850, it ordered Northerners to help capture and return runaway slaves; provided bounties for slave-catchers; denied fugitive slaves the right to speak in their defense in court; and denied them a jury trial. As a consequence some free blacks were enslaved.
The law outraged northerners. The fugitive slave issue shows that southerners liked a strong nationalgovernment when it benefited them.
“So you’re the little lady who caused this great war. . .”
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852):Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, it tells story of slaves—Eva, Eliza and Uncle Tom—and their suffering under slavery.
It was inspired in part by State v. Mann.
It became a huge bestseller, advancing the cause of abolitionism.
Popular Sovereignty: Idea that on issues such as slavery, decisions should be made on the local territorial level not by Congress: people living in a territory should be allowed to have slavery if they want it.
Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854): Law negating the Missouri Compromise agreement that Congress may regulate slavery in the territories; it upheld popular sovereignty. It led to a power vacuum in Kansas and consequently to “Bleeding Kansas,” a violent conflict between those who wanted slavery and those who did not. It also marked the death of the Whig Party.
Republican Party: Organized to stop the spread of slavery into the territories, The Republican party believed that “Free Soil” and “Free Labor” would lead to “Free Men” (i.e. a freer and more prosperous society).
The 1st presidential candidate of the party (1856) was John C. Fremont. A regional (northern) party, the Republicans lost to popular sovereignty candidate, James Buchanan.
“Bleeding Kansas”:As a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, abolitionists and supporters of slavery raced to Kansas to see who could establish a territorial government.
Throughout 1856, the two sides clashed in violent conflict, leading to the “sack of Lawrence” and the Pottawatomie Massacre. By the end of the year about 200 people had been killed and there was more than $2 million property damage done
“Tragic Prelude I,” by John Steuart Curry
"Bully" Brooks: Sectional violence reached Congress in May 1856. In a speech, Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts attacked the pro-slavery violence in Kansas and singled out Senator A.P. Butler of South Carolina for rebuke, calling him a liar, among other things. Butler chose to ignore the insult, but the Senator's nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks, would not. Brooks went to the Senate and found Sumner at his desk. He accused Sumner of libeling the South and proceeded to beat him severely about the head with his cane. Sumner did not return to the Senate for two years. The House of Representatives censured Brooks, but when he returned to South Carolina the people re-elected him to Congress. As he left to return to Washington, they showered him with gifts of new canes.
Dred Scott Case:1857 Supreme Court ruling written by Chief Justice Roger Taney that intensified the clash over slavery. It involved the freedom of Dred Scott, a Missouri slave whose owner had transported to Wisconsin. He was kidnapped by abolitionists who said he was free by virtue of his living in a free state and his owner sued to have him returned.
John Brown:Fanatical abolitionist who led raids during "Bleeding Kansas." In 1859, he tried to arm the slaves for a rebellion by taking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, VA. Brown’s gang was captured, tried, and hanged. The raid stirred opposition to slavery in the North and struck fear in the hearts of Southerners. Brown became a martyr to the cause of abolition. He was remembered in the most famous song of the Civil War era: "John Brown's Body," sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
“John Brown’s Body”
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling campsThey have build Him an altar in the evening dew and damp;I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;His day is marching on.
John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the graveJohn Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the graveJohn Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave But his soul goes marching on
He has gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord
He has gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord
He has gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord
His soul is marching on
He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true He frightened old Virginia till she trembled through and through They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew His soul is marching on
Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865: Republican POTUS 1861-1865, Lincoln was a Whig Congressman in the 1840s, and lost the race for U.S. Senator from Illinois in 1858 to Stephen Douglas after a series of debates.
An opponent of the expansion of slavery into the territories, he won the 1860 election because the Democrats split. His election as POTUS prompted states in the South to secede. With secession came war. Lincoln refused to acknowledge the South's right to secede and fought to restore the Union.