Chapter 14
The Coming of the Civil War
Slave Power Comes North
• The Compromise of 1850 lasted about 4
years
• Abolitionists intensified their propaganda
• Slaves continued to seek their freedom in
the North
• The new fugitive slave laws encouraged
more Southerners to try and recover
escaped slaves
Slave Power Comes North
• Thousands of runaway slaves fled to
Canada
• Northerners increasingly refused to step
aside and allow slaves to be taken away
• James Hamlet was seized and returned to
the South without being allowed to
communicate with his wife and childrenoutraged community members (black &
white) raised the $800 to buy his freedom
Slave Power Comes North
• A slave living for years in Philadelphia as
were her six children – all born free. A
federal judge released the Williams family
• When two Georgians came to collect
William and Ellen Craft, they were
hounded in the streets by white
Northerners shouting “slave hunters.” The
men returned to Georgia empty-handed
Slave Power Comes North
• A fugitive slave working as a waiter was
being held for deportation but a mob of
blacks broke into the courthouse and
hustled him off to Canada
• A slave named Jerry was arrested in
Syracuse NY. When the news got around
a crowd formed, broke him out, and got
him to Canada
Slave Power Comes North
• These incidents caused both the South
and the North to question the Compromise
of 1850
• The Wisconsin Supreme Court declared
the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional but
its decision was overturned by the US
Supreme Court in Ableman v. Booth
• Regardless, enforcing the law was
becoming more difficult
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel,
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852),
increased sectional tensions
and illustrated the evils of
slavery
• The novel was a huge success
in America and abroad and
reached audiences that
abolitionists could not
• Southerners accused Stowe of
distorting the realities of
plantation life and of trying to
foment hatred towards the
South
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• Northerners tended to
see the South’s
criticisms as biased
• Before the novel, few
had looked upon the
slaves as real people
• The novel caused many
who were not
abolitionists to question
the morality of slavery
Simon Legree – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The Young America Movement
• The “Young America” spirit
believed that democracy would
triumph everywhere
• Many helped revolutions in
Europe or dreamed of
annexing new land in the
Caribbean
• 1855 William Walker backed by
an American business took
over Nicaragua and proclaimed
himself president
William Walker
The Young America Movement
• “General” George Bickley tried to organize
an expedition to conquer Mexico
• Northerners suspected Walker and Bickley
of trying to win more land for slavery but
they were primarily adventurers
• Central America was becoming more
important due to long route of
communication between East and
California
The Young America Movement
• A canal cutting across Central
America would cut sailing time
• A treaty between the US and
Britain agreed to a demilitarized
zone and joint control should a
canal be constructed
• The desire to attain Cuba grew
stronger
• President Pierce offered $130
million for the island
The Young America Movement
• Secret dealings to acquire
Cuba or take it by force was
made public and outraged the
North and Europe
• President Fillmore sent an
expedition under Commodore
Matthew Perry to Japan to
open up new markets- Japan
signed a trade treaty that
opened up six Japanese ports
• President Pierce also
attempted to annex Hawaii
Stephen Douglas: Little Giant
• Douglas was a spokesman
for the Young America
Movement
• Douglas believed in
expansion and popular
sovereignty
• He wanted to build more
RRs, acquire more territory,
and expand trade
• He was anti-slavery but did
not believe it to be a moral
issue
Stephen Douglas: Little Giant
• His success in pushing through the Compromise
of 1850 made him well-known
• His attempt at winning the Democratic
presidential nomination was thwarted by the
nomination of the dark horse Franklin Pierce –
the Whigs nominated General Winfield Scott
• Political stability was teetering as the Whig party
crumbled
• Congress fell under the control of pro-slavery
Democrats
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• President Pierce balanced
his cabinet with men from
pro-slavery South and antislavery North
• Pierce was incapable of
handling the factions
• Senator Stephen Douglas
produced a bill that would
organize the lands west of
Missouri and Iowa as the
Nebraska Territory
President Franklin Pierce
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• Settlers were already moving
into the territory
• Douglas wanted the territory
organized to facilitate RR
expansion and make Chicago
the terminus (he was director of
the Illinois Central)
• Southerners wanted the RR line
to go through Memphis or New
Orleans
• James Gadsden purchased land
from Mexico to facilitate RR
construction for the Southern RR
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• In accordance with the Missouri
Compromise, Nebraska would be a free
state as it lay above the agreed parallel
• Under pressure from Southern senators,
Douglas agreed to create two territories
Kansas and Nebraska and repeal the part
of the Missouri Compromise that excluded
slavery north of the parallel
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• Whether the territories should be free or
slave- let the populations decide
• Making concessions to the South also
might help him secure the next
presidential nomination
• Douglas erred – the territory had been
free-soil for 34 years and many Northern
moderates were radicalized
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• The reaction of the North was almost as
intense as the patriots under the Stamp
Act
• The South in both houses backed the bill
as did Douglas and Pierce
• The Northern Democrats split and the bill
became law in 1854
• The bill was the greatest single step
towards civil war
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
• The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was like
a slap in the face of the North
• The status of slavery, once settled, was now
open again
• Two days after the bill passed, a runaway slave
was arrested in Boston. Crowds attacked the
courthouse, killing a guard. President Pierce
sent a federal ship to collect the runaway and
return him to VA. It took two companies of
soldiers and 1000 police to accomplish it.
• Northerners were now hard-core abolitionists
The Parties
• There were 91 free-state Democrats in the
House when the Kansas-Nebraska Act
was passed- only 25 after the next election
• Most Whigs flocked to two new parties: the
“Know-Nothing” party and the Republicans
• The “Know-Nothings” grew out of a secret
organization whose password was “I don’t
know”
The Parties
• The “Know-Nothings”
Primarily Nativists or anti-immigration
Public financing of religious schools and
prohibition of alcohol were big issues
They wanted 21 years before citizenship
granted
They tended to adopt the view of slavery in
whatever region they were
The Parties
• The Republicans
Made up of former Free-Soilers, anti-slavery
Whigs and Democrats
It was a Northern party not a national one
They were not abolitionist (though abolitionist
voted Republican) but wanted territories free
of slavery
In 1854, the Republican won more than 100
seats in the House
Bleeding Kansas
• Establishing orderly government in the
territories was difficult due to confusion
over property boundaries, graft, and
speculation
• The legal status of Kansas became the
focus of the conflict as both sides (proslavery and abolitionist) were determined
to have Kansas for themselves
Bleeding Kansas
• Kansas became a battleground
• Both sides refused to let the Kansans to
work out the issue- they began a
movement of settlers into the territory
• In 1854 an election was held to pick a
territorial delegate to Congress. A large
band of pro-slavery Missourians crossed
the border and helped elect a pro-slavery
man
Bleeding Kansas
• In March 1855, 5,000 “border ruffians” again
crossed into Kansas and elected a territorial
legislature. There were only 2905 eligible voters
but over 6,000 votes were cast
• The legislature promptly enacted a slave code
and made laws against abolitionism
• Anti-slavery forces refused to recognize the new
laws and established their own legislature
• By January 1857 there were two governments in
Kansas
Bleeding Kansas
• President Pierce denounced
the free-state government
which encouraged the proslavery settlers
• May 1856- 800 pro-slavery
settlers sacked the town of
Lawrence- a center of
abolition
• An abolition extremist, John
Brown, murdered an equal
number of pro-slavery men in
another small community in
retaliation
Bleeding Kansas
• The violence perpetrated by both sides caused
an explosion of violence as marauding bands
attacked homesteads after first determining their
positions on slavery
• Brown escaped capture but was forced to flee
Kansas
• Republicans, eager to propagandize the
situation, filled newspapers with exaggerated
stories of “bleeding Kansas”
Bleeding Kansas
• The Democrats were also at fault by making a
mockery of the Kansas elections
• The main responsibility lay with President
Pierce. He should have remained neutral but
openly sided with the South
• When the first territorial governor complained to
the president about the manner in which the first
territorial legislature was elected, he replaced
him with a pro-Southern man
Senator Sumner- Martyr
• Congress was also filled with rancor as both
sides traded insults and threats
• Prominent in these outbursts was a new senator
from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner
• He was brilliant, articulate, a good orator but was
arrogant and egotistical
• In one speech he attacked the president’s
administration, Douglas, and elderly Senator
Butler of South Carolina who was not present to
defend himself
Senator Sumner- Martyr
• Douglas muttered that “that damn fool will
get himself killed by some other damn
fool”
• Congressman Preston Brooks, nephew of
Senator Butler, entered the senate two
days after Sumner’s speech
• Brooks approached Sumner who was at
his desk and rained blows upon his head
with a cane
Senator Sumner- Martyr
• Brooks was censured
and he resigned
• He returned home to
cheers, gifts of canes,
and reelection
• Sumner recovered
physically but was
unable to return to
the senate until 1859
President Buchanan
• The Republican Party now dominated the
North
• For the 1856 Election, it nominated John
Fremont a hero of the War with Mexico.
He was popular, a war hero, with little
political experience
• The campaign slogan was: “Free soil, free
speech, and Fremont”
President Buchanan
• The Democrats cast aside Pierce, but did
not dare nominate Douglas who now had
many enemies in the North
• They settled on James Buchanan who had
served as minister to Great Britain during
the Kansas crisis and was therefore not
“tainted”
• A third party, the American Party,
nominated Millard Fillmore
President Buchanan
• The Democrats
campaigned by
denouncing the
Republicans as a
sectional party intent on
destroying the Union
• Buchanan won a minority
of the vote but won in the
Electoral College
• He had been in politics
since he was 24 when he
was elected to the
Pennsylvania legislature
President James Buchanan
President Buchanan
• He served as Polk’s Secretary of State
then as minister to Britain under Pierce
• He was big and heavy yet graceful, could
drink vast quantities of alcohol without
looking inebriated
• He was popular with women but never
married
• He was patriotic and moderate
The Dred Scott Decision
• Before the Kansas crisis has died down, a new
one emerged
• John Emerson, an army officer, had been
stationed in several locations in the North during
his tour accompanied by his slave, Dred Scott
• When Emerson died, Scott and his wife sued in
court for their freedom claiming they were free
by virtue of living in the North where slavery was
outlawed
The Dred Scott Decision
• The freedom of Scott and his
wife was really not the issue:
who had the power to outlaw
slavery? Congress or the
state legislatures?
• The case went to the
Supreme Court
• The Court declared that free
or slave, blacks were not
citizens, therefore Scott
could not sue in a federal
court
Dred Scott
The Dred Scott Decision
• The Court further stated that since Scott
had returned to Missouri, the laws of the
Northern states no longer applied to him
• The Court was mostly composed of
Southerners and pro-slavery Northerners
• The decision threatened Douglas’ concept
of popular sovereignty- if Congress could
not exclude slaves from a territory how
could a state legislature do it?
The Dred Scott Decision
• Justice Taney also argued that the Fifth
Amendment permitted slaves to go
anywhere as “no act of congress can
deprive a man of liberty or property…”
• Under this ruling, slaves could be brought
into any territory
• Many Northerners believed that the South
was trying to expand slavery even into the
North
The Lecompton Constitution
• Buchanan tried to defuse the Kansas crisis by
appointing a new governor- Robert J. Walker
• Pro-slavery leaders convened a constitutional
conference on Lecompton while Free-Soil forces
refused to participate
• When a pro-slavery constitution was produced
and refused to submit it to a fair vote, Walker
denounced it and hurried to Washington
The Lecompton Constitution
• Influenced by pro-slavery advisors, Buchanan
not only did not reject the constitution, he asked
Congress to admit Kansas as a state with the
constitution as its framework
• Douglas attacked the decision and shattered the
Democratic Party.
• Admitting Kansas as a slave state would go
against his idea of popular sovereignty and ruin
his hopes of becoming president
The Lecompton Constitution
• Buchanan and Douglas fought over the
issue with Buchanan putting great
pressure on Douglas
• Congress rejected the Lecompton
constitution
• In Kansas a referendum was ordered and
the Lecompton constitution was defeated
by anti-slavery citizens while pro-slavery
citizens sat out
The Lecompton Constitution
• Buchanan pressed Congress to admit
Kansas the Lecompton constitution
• Congress ordered another referendum in
Kansas- the constitution was again
defeated by a ratio of 6-1
• More than opposition to slavery influenced
the vote- most Kansans were alienated by
Washington due to land policies that
ruined many
The Emergence of Lincoln
• Many Northerners blamed the Panic of
1857 on the South
• The Southern-dominated Congress had
reduced tariffs and many businesses went
under due to foreign competition
• The South saw the Panic as proof that it
had the superior economic system
• The Union was cracking and threatened to
break apart
The Emergence of Lincoln
• To many, Douglas seemed the man who
could preserve it
• His reelection to the senate took on added
significance – his Republican opponent
was Abraham Lincoln
• Lincoln had entered politics when he was
elected to the state legislature as a Whig
when he was barely 25
The Emergence of Lincoln
• Though no abolitionist,
Lincoln was bitterly
opposed to the KansasNebraska Act
• Opposed to slavery he
did not blame the
Southerners
• His moderation and his
moral force won Lincoln
many admirers
Abraham Lincoln
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
• Contrasts in looks, style
and oratory
 Douglas was short and
stout and Lincoln tall and
lean
 Douglas was dapper and
flashy while Lincoln
appeared worn and
rumpled
 Douglas spoke with bold
gestures, paced the stage,
and never hesitated to call
Lincoln a liar while Lincoln
spoke slowly and
deliberately giving the
impression of utter sincerity
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
• In fact, both men were very close in their
views on slavery and how it should be
handled in the states
• Douglas won election – barely – but
answers given in the debate would cost
him the presidential nomination
• Lincoln’s defeat did not cost him – in fact
the defeat revitalized his political career
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
• The campaign of 1858 was Douglas’ last great
triumph and Lincoln’s last defeat
• By early 1859 radical Southerners, spooked by
Republican victories in both houses, spoke
openly of secession should a Republican
become president in 1860
• Taking the offensive, Southern “fire-eaters”
demanded a slave code for the territories, talked
of annexing Cuba, and reviving the African slave
trade
John Brown’s Raid
• October 1859 – John Brown with 18 white and
black followers seized the federal arsenal in
Harper’s Ferry upstream from Washington
• His goal was to arm the slaves and establish a
black republic in western Virginia
• He took several hostages including a greatgrand nephew of George Washington
• No slaves came forward to join him
John Brown’s Raid
• Federal troops under the
command of Robert E.
Lee trapped Brown and
his men in an engine
house of the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad
• After a two-day siege, in
which 10 of Brown’s men
were picked off, Brown
was captured
John Brown’s Raid
• Despite Brown’s near-certain insanity, he was supported
by several well-known abolitionists including Emerson
and Thoreau
• Southerners reacted in an equally irrational manner and
attacked Northerners in the South even lynching one
• Brown was immediately tried in Virginia for treason and
murder and sentenced to death
• In his last days, Brown turned calm and spoke eloquently
of the evils of slavery and the need to extinguish it
• Despite his dubious and violent past, he was now seen
in the North as a near saint
• Brown was hanged December 1859 – a Northern hero
The Election of 1860
• By 1860 the Union was on the brink of
dissolution
• Extremism was more evident in the South
• Why? They felt surrounded by hostility; the North
was growing at a much faster rate; and John
Brown’s raid filled them with panic
• The Southern states became even harsher
towards the slaves- they banished free blacks
and made manumission illegal
The Election of 1860
• Secession seemed like a reasonable course of
action- it would be a defense against rising
abolitionism and a way to strike back at the
North
• The nomination of Douglas was probably the
last chance at keeping the Union together but
the South would not support him unless he gave
in to their many demands including an
admission that slavery was right
The Election of 1860
• The Northern and Southern wings of the
Democratic Party could not agree and
nominated their own candidates- the North
nominated Douglas and the South nominated
John Breckenridge (Buchanan’s vice-president)
• The Republicans, after a close race between
Seward and Lincoln, nominated the moderate
Lincoln
• The remnants of the Whigs and American
Parties formed the Constitutional Union Party
and nominated John Bell
The Election of 1860
• Breckenridge would carry the South and Bell the
border states but the Northern Democrats and
the Republicans battled in the North and West
• The Republicans had a strong, attractive
economic program and it soon became clear
Lincoln would win
• Douglas, knowing this, said “We must try and
save the Union. I will go South.” He toured the
South asking all to stand by the Union whoever
was elected president. He was the only
candidate to remind voters that their choice
could end in war
The Election of 1860
• Lincoln did not win a majority. He won
almost one million fewer votes than the
combined total of his three opponents
• He did win 180 electoral votes and the
election
The Secession Crisis
• Days after Lincoln’s election, South
Carolina held a convention to decide the
state’s future
• On 20 December 1860, the state voted
unanimously to secede
• By February 1861, six other states
followed
• A provisional government of the
Confederate Sates of America was
established
• The border states of VA, TN, NC, AR did
not secede but announced they would
join the Confederacy if the federal
government attempted to use force
against it
The Secession Crisis
• Why did the South secede?
The North would not overwhelm them any
time in the foreseeable future
Lincoln assured them that slavery would be
respected where it was
The Democrats retained control of both
houses and the Supreme Court
Why secede before any real threat
materialized?
The Secession Crisis
“Liberation” would force the South to create a
more balanced economy
The criticisms by the North had worn away
any feelings of patriotism
They saw all Northerners as abolitionists
A Republican president could flood the South
with abolitionist and even black officials
The Secession Crisis
• Southerners reacted to secession with
varied emotions
Some were almost looking forward to bloody
conflict
Some were afraid war would endanger what
they had built
Some were still staunchly pro-Union
Others accepted secession only after deep
soul-searching
The Secession Crisis
• Northern reactions were also varied. Many
refused to believe the South actually
wanted to break away
• The South did not believe that the North
would go to war as Northerners were “too
materialistic and not prepared to shed
blood”
• President Buchanan did nothing other than
state that secession was illegal
The Secession Crisis
• How would Jackson have handled the
secession? Would there have been a
different outcome?
• Senator Crittenden of Kentucky, a disciple
of Henry Clay, offered a compromise that
would allow slavery south of the 36/30
latitude line but Lincoln refused to accept
slavery in any new territory
The Secession Crisis
• The South drafted a
constitution and chose a
president- Jefferson Davis.
They seized federal
arsenals, forts and other
federal properties and sent
diplomats to Europe to
seek support
• Abraham Lincoln, still in
Illinois, formed his cabinet
and grew a beard
President Jefferson Davis