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Protest, resistance, and Violence

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  1. Protest, resistance, and Violence Chapter 10 section 2

  2. Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad • Fugitive Slave Act: a law enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850, designed to ensure that escaped slaves would be returned into bondage • Alleged fugitives were not entitled to a trial by jury, nor could they testify on their own behalf (Despite 6th amendment) • A statement by a slave owner was all that was required to have a slave returned • $10 fee for those who returned an alleged fugitive, $5 if they freed him or her, an obvious incentive to “return” them to slavery • Anyone convicted of helping an alleged fugitive was subject to a fine of $1,000, imprisonment of 6 months, or both

  3. Resisting the Law • Northerners resisted the Fugitive Slave Act • They did so by organizing committees to send endangered African Americans to safety in Canada. • Nine Northern states passed personal liberty laws • Forbade the imprisonment of runaway slaves and guaranteed they would have jury trials

  4. Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad • The Underground Railroad developed: a network of people who would, at great risk to themselves, aid fugitives slaves in their escape • “Conductors” hidfugitives in secret tunnels and false cupboards and provided with food and clothing • One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman • Born a slave • After her owner died she decided to make a break for freedom and succeeded in reaching Philadelphia • In all, she made 19 trips back to the South and is said to have helped 300 slaves, including her own parents. • She later became a speaker for abolition

  5. Uncle Tom’s Cabin • Ardent abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin • Became an instant best-seller, more than a million copies had sold by the middle of 1853 • The novel had parts such as the slave Eliza who fled across the frozen Ohio River, clutching her infant son in her arms. Or when Simon Legree, a wicked Northern slave owner who moved to the South, bought Uncle Tom and had him whipped to death. • Delivered a message that slavery was not just a political contest, but a great moral struggle • In response, Northern abolitionists increased their protests against the Fugitive Slave Act

  6. Tension in Kansas and Nebraska • Issues of slavery in territories (supposedly settled in the Compromise of 1850) surfaced again • Stephen Douglas was most responsible for resurrecting issue • Popular Sovereignty • Douglas pushed to organize the huge territory west of Iowa and Missouri • Developed a proposal to divide the area into two territories, Kansas and Nebraska • His motives were complicated, he pushed for the construction of a railroad between Chicago and San Francisco • To get this route he had to make a deal with the Southerners who wanted the railroad to start in Memphis or New Orleans • Douglas believed: • The nation wished to see the western lands incorporated into the Union • It would strengthen the Democratic party • Popular sovereignty would provide the most fair and democratic way to organize the new state governments

  7. Douglas failed to understand how opposed the Northerners were to slavery • Still thought popular sovereignty was the best way to decide whether slavery was allowed in the territory of Nebraska Territory • The problem was Nebraska was north of the 36°30’ and therefore was legally closed to slavery • Douglas assumed the territory of Nebraska would enter the Union as two states, one free and one a slave state, maintaining the balance • Was convinced that slavery could not exist on the prairie land since no crops relying on slave labor could be grown there • To win over the South, Douglas supported repeal of the Missouri Compromise which would make slavery legal north of the 36°30’ line

  8. The Kansas-Nebraska Act • Douglas introduced a bill to Congress to divide the area into two territories, one being in the North and one in the South • If passed, it would repeal the Missouri Compromise and establish popular sovereignty in both territories • Debate over the bill was bitter • Northern congressmen saw the bill as a plot to turn the area into slave states • 90% of the Southern congressmen voted for the bill • This spread across the general population which lead to petitions in Congress both for and against the bill • With help from President Franklin Pierce, a Democrat, Douglas’s proposal steered through the Senate • The Kansas-Nebraska Act became a law in May 1854

  9. Violence Erupts in “Bleeding Kansas” • It was a race between the North and South for the virgin soil of Kansas • Settlers from both the North and the South poured into Kansas territory • Some were farmers, most were sent by emigrant aid societies • Kansas had enough settlers to hold an election for a territorial legislature • Thousands of “border ruffians” from the slave state Missouri, crossed into Kansas and voted illegally • They won a fraudulent majority for proslavery • As soon as they won, they set up a government at Lecompton and promptly issued proslavery acts • Furious, abolitionists organized a rival government in Topeka

  10. “The Sack of Lawrence” • Antislavery settlers founded a town named Lawrence • A proslavery grand jury condemned these settlers as traitors and called on the local sheriff to arrest them • A proslavery posse of 800 armed men went to Lawrence to carry out the grand jury’s will • They burned down the antislavery headquarters, destroyed two newspapers’ printing presses, and looted many houses and stores • Abolitionist newspapers called the event, “the sack of Lawrence”

  11. “The Pottawatomie Massacre” • News of Lawrence reached John Brown, an abolitionist • Brown believed God had called on him to fight slavery • With a mistaken impression that the posse killed 5 men, Brown was set on revenge • He and his followers pulled 5 men from their beds in the proslavery settlement of Pottawatomie Creek • He hacked of their hands and stabbed them with broadswords • This attack became famous as the “Pottawatomie Massacre” • The massacre triggered dozens of incidents throughout Kansas and some 200 people were killed • Brown fled Kansas but left behind men and women who lived with rifles by their sides • People began calling this territory Bleeding Kansas, since it had become a violent battlefield in a civil war

  12. Violence in the Senate • Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner delivered an impassioned speech in the Senate later called “The Crime against Kansas” • For two days he verbally attacked his colleagues for their support of slavery • He was particularly abusive towards Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina, making fun of his impaired speech and proslavery views • Butler’s nephew then went to the Senate chamber and over to Sumner’s desk after reading the speech • Butler’s nephew claimed it libel on South Carolina and on Andrew P. Butler • After that, he took his cane and struck Sumner on the head repeatedly • Southerners applauded this act while Northerners condemned it as another example of Southern brutality • No compromises could satisfy the North or South • Tensions resulted in political alliances as well as violence • Old national parties were torn apart and new political parties emerged