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The Civil War A Nation Divided. Causes. States' Rights.

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The Civil War

A Nation Divided

states rights
States' Rights

States’ rights is a term used to describe the ongoing struggle over political power in the United States between the federal government and individual states as broadly outlined in the Tenth Amendment and whether the USA is a single entity or a group of independent nations.


States' Rights in the Colonies

When the original 13 independent colonies announced their independence from Great Britain in 1776 they regarded themselves as sovereign (independent) states

The Continental Congress established Articles of Confederation, an agreement that created a weak central government

After the Revolution, individual states created their own laws, attempted to make foreign treaties on their own, etc

Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts convinced many Americans that a "more perfect union" was needed.


The United States Constitution, which the country has operated under since 1789, strengthened the central government in many ways

The Ninth Amendment stated, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and the Tenth Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

states rights slavery and tariffs
States' Rights - Slavery and Tariffs

In 1832 national tariffs that benefited Northern manufacturers while hurting the economy of Southern states led to the Nullification Crisis, in which South Carolina declared the tariffs null and void. The state threatened to leave the Union, but a compromise was reached that temporarily defused the crisis

Slavery became a states' rights issue. Many northerners

opposed slavery and assisted runaway slaves.

Slave holding states ( almost all in the south) opposed efforts

to abolish slavery causing a division between the North and

the South

missouri compromise 1820
Missouri Compromise1820
  • Effort to maintain balance between slave states and free states
  • States would be admitted in pairs- one free and one slave
  • Missouri admitted as a slave state, Maine free
  • New states below Missouri's southern border 36° 30' could be slave
  • New states above 36° 30' would be free
  • Slavery was, at one time, legal in all colonies, however, climate, geography, and industry made slavery impractical in the North. Those same issues made it ideal in the South.
  • Many Northerners opposed slavery and joined the abolitionist movement. Southerners opposed all attempts to end slavery and fought to pass laws allowing it to continue
abolitionist movement
Abolitionist Movement
  • Movement to end slavery in all states.
  • Many Northerners joined the Abolitionist Movement
  • Southerners saw abolition as an attack on their way of life and the Southern economy.
uncle tom scabin 1852
Uncle Tom'sCabin1852
  • A novel which showed the reality of slavery.
  • It told the story of a slave (Uncle Tom) and his treatment by three different slave owners.
  • The novel became a powerful anti-slavery tool
dred scott decision 1857
Dred Scott Decision1857
  • Dred Scott sues to gain his freedom on the basis that he had lived in free territories. The Supreme Court ruled that Scott was not a citizen and could not sue in federal court.
  • The decision also invalidated the Missouri Compromise, eliminating the 36° 30' rule
  • The decision angered abolitionists
underground railroad
Underground Railroad
  • The Underground Railroad was the term used to describe a network of meeting plages, secret routes, passageways and safe houses used by slaves in the U.S. to escape slave holding states to northern states and Canada.
  • Among the best known "conductors" is Harriet Tubman, a former slave who returned to slave states 19 times and brought more than 300 slaves to freedom—using her shotgun to threaten death to any who lost heart and wanted to turn back.
harpers ferry 1859
Harpers Ferry1859
  • John Brown (an abolitionist) assembled a group and raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in an attempt to start a slave revolt.
  • U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee stormed the arsenal, killing Brown and several of his men.
  • Brown became a martyr for the abolitionist movement.


election of abraham lincoln 1860
Election of Abraham Lincoln1860
  • Southern states believed Lincoln would end slavery
  • Two months after Lincoln's election, South Carolina seceded. The rest of the South soon followed