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The Impending Crisis. Illinois History. Jefferson Davis U.S. Senator from Mississippi (1847-1851) Future President of the Confederates States of America.

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the impending crisis

The Impending Crisis

Illinois History


Jefferson Davis

U.S. Senator from Mississippi (1847-1851)

Future President of the Confederates States of America

“Slave labor is wasteful labor, and it therefore requires a still more extended territory than would the same pursuits if they could be prosecuted by the more economic labor of white men.”

the kansas nebraska act of 1854
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
  • Introduced by U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of IL
  • Created territories of Nebraska and Kansas
  • Opened two territories up for settlement and stated that settlers would vote on the issue of permitting slavery before statehood
  • Repealed section of the MO Compromise that forbade slavery in the Louisiana Purchase north of 36˚30’.

Salmon P. Chase,

U.S. Senator from Ohio

Joshua Giddings

U.S. Congressman from Ohio

“We arraign this bill as a gross violation of a sacred pledge; as a criminal betrayal of precious rights; as part and parcel of an atrocious plot to exclude from a vast unoccupied region immigrants from the Old World and free laborers from our own States, and convert it into a dreary region of despotism, inhabited by masters and slaves.”

-” Appeal of the Independent Democrats in Congress to the People of the United States,” January 1854


Abraham Lincoln

“Our progress in degeneracy appear to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘All men are created equal except negroes and foreigners, and Catholics.”

Lincoln in letter to Joshua Speed, August 24, 1855

pottawatomie massacre
Pottawatomie Massacre


May 24-25, 1856

  • Brown, his sons, and several abolitionists murdered 5 pro-slavery white settlers.
  • Led to all-out war in KS.


  • fraudulent territorial elections in 1855, which authorized slavery, passed a harsh slave code
  • pro-slavery attack on free-state legislature in Lawrence, Kansas in 1856

John Brown, c. 1856


Lithograph by John L. Magee, 1856

On May 22, 1856, U.S. House Representative Preston Brooks (SC) viciously beat U.S. Senator Charles Sumner (MA) unconscious after Sumner denounced the violence in Kansas and pro-Slavery South, especially Brooks’s uncle U.S. Senator Andrew Butler (SC).

dred scott v sanford 1857
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
  • Scott and his family were still slaves
  • Scott (as a black person and slave) was not a citizen and had no rights
  • Scott’s stay in Wisconsin did not make him free since Congress did not have the power to exclude slavery from a territory, nor could a territorial legislature
  • Means popular sovereignty cannot keep slavery from a territory.
  • Declared the MO Compromise and the NW Ordinance of 1787 unconstitutional
  • Left fate of KS and NE uncertain

Roger Taney

Chief Justice of U.S. Supreme Court (1836-1864)

“It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in regard to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted; but the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken. They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far unfit that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

-Taney Opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

race for u s senate
Race for U.S. Senate
  • Stephan A. Douglas
    • Incumbent (D-IL)
  • Illinois Republicans meet and nominate Abraham Lincoln as their candidate.

1858 Debates

  • Formal political debates between Lincoln and Douglas in a campaign for one of Illinois' two United States Senate seats.
  • Debates launched Lincoln into national prominence.
issues of the debates
Issues of the Debates
  • Expansion of slavery
  • Popular sovereignty
  • DredScott decision
  • African American Citizenship
abraham lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

“If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South.”

for whom were the candidates campaigning
For Whom Were The Candidates Campaigning?
  • Senators originally elected by the state legislatures not by the popular vote.
  • Douglas and Lincoln actually campaigning for the election of state representatives.
stephen douglas
Stephen Douglas

“The next question propounded to me by Mr. Lincoln is, can the people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution? I answer emphatically, as Mr. Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred times from every stump in Illinois, that in my opinion the people of a Territory can, by lawful means, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution. Mr. Lincoln knew that I had answered that question over and over again. He heard me argue the Nebraska bill on that principle all over the State in 1854, in 1855, and in 1856, and he has no excuse for pretending to be in doubt as to my position on that question. It matters not what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract question whether slavery may or may not go into a Territory under the Constitution, the people have the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. Those police regulations can only be established by the local legislature, and if the people are opposed to slavery they will elect representatives to that body who will by unfriendly legislation effectually prevent the introduction of it into their midst. If, on the contrary, they are for it, their legislation will favor its extension. Hence, no matter what the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that abstract question, still the right of the people to make a slave Territory or a free Territory is perfect and complete under the Nebraska bill. I hope Mr. Lincoln deems my answer satisfactory on that point.”

-Excerpt from Stephen Douglas's Freeport Doctrine speech at Freeport, Illinois.

harper ferry s raid
Harper Ferry’s Raid
  • Designed plan to create a slave revolution to bring down slavery
  • Raised funds in abolitionist circles throughout New England, though most thought the plan undesirable
  • With sons and an interracial band of supporters raided the federal armory at Harpers Ferry in present-day West Virginia on Oct. 16, 1859
  • Eventually captured, tried, convicted, and executed for treason.

John Brown, 1859


"I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.“

- December 2, 1859, the day of his execution


“Let the consequences be what they may, whether the Potomac is crimsoned in human gore, and Pennsylvania Avenue is paved ten fathoms deep with mangled bodies or whether the last vestige of liberty is swept from the face of the American Continent, the South will never submit to such humiliation and degradation as the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.”

- The Atlanta Confederacy, 1860

southern secession before war
Southern Secession before War
  • South Carolina – December 20, 1860
  • Mississippi – January 9, 1861
  • Florida – January 10, 1861
  • Alabama – January 11, 1861
  • Georgia – January 19, 1861
  • Louisiana – January 26, 1861
  • Texas – February 1, 1861