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The Road to Disunion. 1846-1860. The Wilmot Proviso, 1846. What happened? In August 1846, David Wilmot attached a rider to an appropriations bill barring slavery from any territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War

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the wilmot proviso 1846
The Wilmot Proviso, 1846
  • What happened?
    • In August 1846, David Wilmot attached a rider to an appropriations bill barring slavery from any territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War
    • Supported in the North and opposed in the South, the Wilmot Proviso passed the House twice but was defeated in the Senate
  • Why did Wilmot propose his proviso?
    • Since the Missouri Compromise (1820), both political parties attempted to suppress the issue of slavery
    • Wilmot defended his proviso as a necessary means of insuring the “rights of white freemen” to live and work in the new territories without the unfair burden of competing with slave labor
the wilmot proviso 18461
The Wilmot Proviso, 1846
  • Why should you remember the Wilmot Proviso?
    • It became a rallying point for the Free-Soil Party
      • Became active participants in the 1848 election
      • Pledged to support “free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men”
    • Apprehensive Southern leaders warned that the W.P. marked the beginning of a long postponed attack on slavery
    • Determined to defend their “peculiar institution,” they denounced any attempt to restrict the expansion of slavery
    • The W.P. reawakened dormant sectional tensions over the expansion of slavery
the compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850
  • The growing sectional differences between N and S over the extension of slavery touched off one of the most dramatic Senate debates in U.S. history
  • Henry Clay hoped to once again play his historic role of the “Great Compromiser”
    • The now 73-year-old senator from KY proposed the following key points:
      • Admission of CA as a free state
      • The organization of territorial governments in UT and NM without an immediate decision as to whether they would be free or slave
      • The abolition of the domestic slave trade in D.C.
      • The enactment of a very strict new Fugitive Slave Act
the compromise of 18501
The Compromise of 1850
  • The debate over Clay’s proposals featured dramatic speeches by Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun
  • Webster’s speech urged Northern and Southern senators to find common ground “for the preservation of the Union”
  • After months of debate, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois successfully maneuvered Clay’s proposals through the Senate as separate bills
  • The Compromise of 1850 seemed to defuse the crisis and establish an uneasy sectional peace
the kansas nebraska act 1854
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • The furor over the FSA kept the issue of slavery alive
    • The FSA appalled Harriet Beecher Stowe
      • A dedicated abolitionist, Stowe wrote UTC to help her readers understand the cruelty of the slave system by vividly describing the fear and panic endured by slaves
    • It soon became an international sensation selling over 2.5 million copies world wide
    • UTC intensified antislavery sentiment in the N and aroused resentment in the S
the kansas nebraska act 18541
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854
  • Stephen A. Douglas and popular sovereignty
    • In January 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois reopened the issue of slavery by proposing a bill that would organize 2 new territories, KS and NE
    • Both territories were part of the LA Territory where the Missouri Compromise banned slavery
    • In order to win Southern support, Douglas included an amendment specifically repealing the Missouri Compromise
    • Douglas’ bill proposed that the people of KS and NE be allowed to decide for themselves whether their states would be free or slave
    • Popular sovereignty
      • Letting the settlers of a territory decide whether or not to allow slavery
    • Congress finally passed Douglas’ KS- NE Act after a divisive debate that sharpened antagonism between the N and the S
the kansas nebraska act 18542
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854
  • Momentous consequences
    • The KNAbroke the uneasy truce between the N and the S
    • Outraged Northerners denounced the act as a violation of the Missouri Compromise’s “sacred pledge” to ban slavery north of the 36° 30' line
    • Placed Whigs opposed to slavery in a difficult position
      • It destroyed the Whig Party in the Deep S and contributed to the demise of the party in the N
    • Created an outpouring of popular opposition in the N that led to the formation of the Rep Party
    • Foreign Policy
      • The Pierce administration hoped to buy Cuba from SP
      • Ostend Manifesto
        • American ministers meeting in Ostend, Belgium drew up a secret memorandum urging Pierce to invade Cuba if SP refused to sell the island
        • When it became public, it ignited a storm of opposition to what seemed like a plot to extend slavery
        • The public outcry forced Pierce to abandon his plan to obtain Cuba
the rise of the republican party
The Rise of the Republican Party
  • The Dem and Whigs formed a 2-party system that dominated American politics from the 1830s to the early 1850s
  • The furor over the KNA dealt the Whigs a fatal blow by leading to the formation of the Rep Party
  • Kansas marked the first important test of popular sovereignty
  • Within a short time, “Bleeding Kansas” became a battleground between proslavery and antislavery settlers
the rise of the republican party1
The Rise of the Republican Party
  • KS soon found itself with 2 governments
    • One supported slavery (minority of the pop)
    • Other government opposed slavery (majority of the pop)
    • The Dems accepted the proslavery government and committed their party to the admission of KS as a slave state
    • Reps opposed the KNA and supported the antislavery forces in KS
  • The Whig Party completely disintegrated under the pressure of the violence in KS
    • As their party collapsed, Whigs joined the rapidly growing Rep Party
    • Antislavery Dems and former Know-Nothings also joined the Reps
  • The Reps held their first national convention in 1856
    • Nominated John C. Fremont for president and adopted a platform opposing slavery
    • The Dems turned to James Buchanan of PN and endorsed the KNA
    • Election was quickly transformed into a sectional contest
    • Buchanan won the election, but Fremont carried 11 free states
the dred scott case 1857
The Dred Scott Case, 1857
  • The case
    • Dred Scott was a slave who belonged to John Emerson, an army surgeon assigned to a post in MO
    • When the army transferred Emerson from the slave state of MO to the free state of Il he took Scott with him as a servant
    • The pair then moved to the WI Territory, an area where the MO Compromise expressly forbade slavery
    • When Emerson died, Scott returned to MO where he was placed under the authority of his former master’s wife
    • Helped by abolitionists, Scott sued for his freedom
    • He contended that living in a free state and in a free territory made him a freeman
the dred scott case 18571
The Dred Scott Case, 1857
  • The legal questions
    • Did Dred Scott have a right to bring his case into the federal courts?
    • Did Dred Scott become a freeman by living in a free state and in a free territory? If so, this would limit slavery since most slave owners would not risk taking their human “property” into a free state
    • Did Congress have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories? If not, then the Missouri Compromise restriction on slavery in the territories was unconstitutional
the dred scott case 18572
The Dred Scott Case, 1857
  • The decision
    • Led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Supreme Court ruled that neither slaves nor free blacks were citizens in the political community created by the Constitution
    • Taney declared that slaves were “chattel property…so far inferior that they have no rights which the white man is bound to respect”
    • Since Dred Scott was not a citizen he was not entitled to sue in a federal court
    • The Court emphatically ruled that Scott did not become free by living in a free state or free territory
    • The Court ruled that as a constitutionally protected form of property, slaves could be taken into any state or territory
    • The Dred Scott decision therefore declared the MO Compromise to be unconstitutional
    • This marked the first time the SC struck down an act of Congress since the Marbury v. Madison decision in 1803
the dred scott case 18573
The Dred Scott Case, 1857
  • The consequences
    • The DS decision repealed the MO Compromise thus establishing the principle that Congress could not limit the spread of slavery in the territories
    • The DS decision invalidated the Rep Party’s platform pledge opposing the extension of slavery into the territories
    • Reps redoubled their efforts to win the presidency
    • They promised that a victory would enable them to change the composition of the Southern dominated SC and reverse the Dred Scott decision
the dred scott case 18574
The Dred Scott Case, 1857
  • The consequences
    • The DS decision played a key role in a series of debates between Stephen A. Douglas and his Rep rival Abraham Lincoln
    • During the debate in Freeport, Illinois, Lincoln asked Douglas if there was any way the people of a territory could keep slavery from their land before they were organized into a state
    • In what came to be called the Freeport Doctrine, Douglas responded that the settlers could prevent slavery by refusing to pass a slave code defining a slave’s legal status and the rights of an owner
    • The Freeport Doctrine outraged the South and cost Douglas political support he would need in the 1860 presidential election
the union in peril
The Union in Peril
  • The consequences of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry
    • John Brown’s doomed raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859 set off a wave of fear throughout the slaveholding S
    • As rumors of slave insurrections swept across the region, frightened Southerners suppressed all criticism of slavery
    • Proslavery Southerners incorrectly linked John Brown to the now-hated “Black Republican” Party
    • Although his raid was a military failure, John Brown became a martyr for the antislavery cause
    • John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry intensified the sectional bitterness and left the nation on the brink of disunion
the union in peril1
The Union in Peril
  • The election of 1860
    • The Dems fragmented into 2 factions
      • N Dems nominated Stephen A. Douglas on a platform promising congressional noninterference with slavery
      • Deep S Dems nominated John C. Breckinridge on a platform calling for a national slave code that would protect slavery in the territories
    • The Reps met in Chicago, sensing that they had an excellent opportunity to defeat the now-divided Dem
    • Reps nominated Lincoln on the third ballot
    • The Rep platform stated that slavery would continue to be protected in the states where it already existed
    • However, the Reps firmly opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories
    • Lincoln won the election by carrying all 18 free states
    • He did not win a single state in the Deep S
the union in peril2
The Union in Peril
  • The failure of compromise
    • Lincoln’s victory caused the secession of SC and 6 other states in the Deep S
    • In a final desperate effort to save the Union, Senator John Crittenden of KY proposed to restore the boundary line between slave and free states established by the MO Compromise
    • Crittenden Compromise
      • The line would be extended to include the new territories in the West
      • Lincoln refused to support itbecause it violated the Rep position against further extension of slavery into the western territories