Causes of the American Civil War. The Unfinished Business of the American Revolution. Unfinished business. “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” ~ Thomas Jefferson concerning the slaves
Causes of the American Civil War
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The Unfinished Business of the American Revolution
“Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” ~ Thomas Jefferson concerning the slaves
Yet following the American Revolution the domestic slave trade in America was expanding like never before.
Invents the cotton gin in 1792, at the behest of Mrs. Nathaniel Greene.
Before the invention it took 10 hours of labor to produce one pound of cotton.
Whitney’s invention could produce 300 to 1000 pounds a day.
The result was that cotton production exploded in the south, as did subsequent demand in both America and Europe.
The Southern Economy became largely dependent upon the cotton industry.
But as the harvest of cotton was labor intensive, it was economically necessary for the South to rely on slave labor. As the demand for cotton grew, so did the demand for slave labor.
Meanwhile.........in the north
By the start of the Civil War, in 1860, the Northern economy was diversified and, except for a downturn in 1857, was booming.
Heavy industrialization and manufacturing. The Northern economy was dependent on no single product.
Most new immigrants to America were settling in the North.
More than two-thirds of the American population lived in the North at the beginning of the Civil War.
Seventy percent of the Nation’s railroad lines were in the North.
The North........Concerning Slavery Slavery
The Northern States had abolished slavery.
Slavery was not necessary for economic prosperity in the North.
Increasingly the Northern population loathed slavery on political, philosophical and religious grounds.
The abolitionist movement began to grow in the North, putting pressure on political leaders in Congress to abolish slavery throughout the United States.
The Argument over States Rights Rights
The Southern Opinion
“The United States are.....”
Each state is sovereign; ultimately responsible for its own laws, economy and defense.
The Union exists only as a confederation of sovereign states linked together for the common benefit or common defense.
States Rights supersede those of the national government.
Slavery is thus not a national issue but a solely a state issue.
The Northern Opinion
“The United States is....”
The Nation is sovereign with regard to laws and a common defense.
Federal rights supersede those of the state.
Therefore, slavery is a national issue, and not a state issue, and requires a national solution.
Early attempts at compromise
Agreed to by Congress in 1820.
It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30' north.
Except in the State of Missouri, which requested admission to the Union as a slave state.
It was the first attempt by Congress to limit the expansion of slavery.
Missouri agreed not to abridge the rights of United States citizens.
Compromise of 1850
A complicated bill that consisted of several parts.
The most controversial was the Fugitive Slave Act, that required all states to return fugitive slaves to the states from which they had escaped.
Harriet Jacobs, a fugitive living in New York, said passage of the law was "the beginning of a reign of terror to the colored population."
As a result of the Compromise of 1850 the Underground Railroad went into full swing, smuggling slaves out of the South and into Canada.
It also made slavery a truly national issue.
The Kansas Nebraska Act
The Crisis Deepens
The Kansas Nebraska Act
Passed in 1854. It’s most significant advocate was Stephan Douglas.
It repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed the people of the new states of Nebraska and Kansas to choose if slavery were to be legal within their borders.
“Popular Sovereignty” was the key principle.
The Act further divided the nation and led to the birth of the Republican Party, which aimed to stop the expansion of slavery.
Following passage of the act, Stephan Douglas engaged in a series of debates with a former Illinois congressman, Abraham Lincoln. These debates, in which Lincoln argued against slavery, propelled him into the national spotlight.
Events Take Control
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Written in 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Upon meeting Stowe, years later, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!"
The novel sought to portray the reality and brutality of slavery, while powerfully making the claim that Christianity and slavery were incompatible.
It became the best selling novel of the 19th century.
It also had a powerful effect on public opinion in the North.
As a result of the Nebraska Kansas Act a series of bloody confrontations took place between “free-soilers” (who opposed Kansas being a slave state) and “Border Ruffians” (who were pro-slave).
At issue was whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or slave state.
The violence in Kansas served as a precursor to the war that was soon to engulf the entire nation.
Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not they were slaves—were not legal persons and could never be citizens of the United States, and that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories.
Dred Scott was the slave of a military man who traveled, bringing Scott along, to free states. When the owner died, Scott sued for his freedom, claiming that because he had been in free state he was thus legally free, and could not be expected to revert back to being a slave.
The Supreme Court denied the petition.
The Reaction to the Dred Scott Decision
The negative reaction of the North, especially among the abolitionists, was fierce.
Lincoln said, “Put this and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude slavery from its limits. ...We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State."
While Chief Justice Taney, who wrote the decision, sought to put the issue of slavery to rest, once and for all, thus saving the nation, the court’s decision nevertheless had the opposite effect. Civil War was becoming inevitable.
The Tension Rises
John Brown was an abolitionist from Kansas who participated in violent raids against pro-slavery factions.
He believed strongly that violence was the only way to combat slavery.
Brown was highly critical of abolitionists who were pacifists, saying "These men are all talk. What we need is action - action!"
Brown and others conspired to plan a symbolic, yet violent strike against the pro-slavery South.
John Brown’s Raid
October 16, 1859, John Brown leads a group of 19 men in attacking and capturing the Army Armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
His plan was to seize rifles from the armory, arm local slaves and start an armed rebellion among the slaves.
The local people and militia rise up and trap Brown’s men in the armory.
The following day, U.S. Marines, under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee arrive, killing ten of the insurgents and capturing the rest.
The End of John Brown
On November 2, 1859, Brown was sentenced to death for the raid.
After his conviction he said, “I believe that to have interfered as I have done as I have always freely admitted I have done in behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done.”
Brown was hanged on December 2, 1859.
The great Frederic Douglas wrote, "Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic. His zeal in the cause of freedom was infinitely superior to mine. Mine was as the taper light; his was as the burning sun. I could live for the slave; John Brown could die for him."
Brown’s Raid largely succeeded in further leading America into the conflict that would eventually end slavery once and for all.
The Last Straw
The Presidential Election of 1860
The Election of Lincoln
Interestingly Abraham Lincoln never campaigned or give speeches as the Republican candidate for President. He relied on the party to do that for him across the nation.
The Republicans, largely due to their opposition to the expansion of slavery, were considered almost unstoppable.
On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States
The Vote of 1860
With the election of Lincoln many Southerners felt they’d lost their voice in national government.
They saw in the election the beginning of the end of their economic and political way of life.
Faced with the threat of oppression, they decided exercise their states rights and to leave the Union.
The Confederacy is Born going to be tough for her with dial up
After Lincoln’s election, but before his inauguration, seven Southern states leave the Union (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas).
After the inauguration four others leave (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina).
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is adopted March 11, 1861.
Jefferson Davis is named the first (and only) President of the Confederate States of America.
Lincoln’s choice is to allow the Confederate States to exist apart from the Union or to fight to preserve the Union.
Lincoln decides that the Union must be preserved at all costs. Lincoln does not want, however, to fire the first shot.
Instead he refuses to evacuate Fort Sumter, that lies just outside of Charleston, SC., forcing the Confederates to act.
On April 12, 1861, the Confederates open fire on the fort, and the terrible conflict that had been brewing for so long finally begins.