The Causes of Secession

The Causes of Secession
• Begin now by remembering that the north
and south had sectional and economical
differences dating back to the colonies, the
constitution ignored the actual slavery issue
in order to be ratified quickly, South
Carolina almost seceded in the 1830s over
tariffs and nullification, and the Missouri
Compromise probably favored the north…
• The new territories acquired through Mexican
Cession really turned up the intensity between
north and south
• The Wilmot Proviso was a bill supported by the
Free-soil Party that passed through the house but
not the senate-- it banned slavery from entering
any new territories acquired out west- especially
Mexican Cession- this created more sectionalism
• The Compromise of 1850 came about
when California applied for statehood–there
was a balance of 15 free and 15 slave states
in the union in 1849-- Henry Clay had
already fended off war with the Missouri
Compromise and his nullification crisis
solution– Clay came up with a plan that
would maintain peace for another decade,
but that would increase the southern
feelings that the north was again being
favored-California entered the union as a
free state- the south received a more strict
Fugitive Slave Law
• The Fugitive Slave Act (part of the Compromise
of 1850) created more distance between
slaveholders and their northern neighbors
• Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an
anti-slavery novel, painted a horrific picture of
slave treatment and outraged abolitionist-minded
• The Kansas-Nebraska Act created two
new territories out of the remainder of
Louisiana—both Kansas and Nebraska
would decide on slavery through popular
sovereignty (people’s vote)
• Leaving the issue of slavery in the hands of
the people led to Bleeding Kansas and the
Pottawatomie Massacre—it also caused a
beating to occur on the floor of the senate
• The Republican Party was formed in 1854 on the
anti-spread of slavery platform (combining Whigs
and Free-Soilers with Northern Democrats)
• The Dred Scott Case was a major victory for the
south and brought the war ever closer– the
supreme court ruled that slaves were property and
therefore protected by the 5th amendment– this
ruling meant that the 36*30’ line was
• The Lincoln-Douglas Debates brought up
the contradiction between popular
sovereignty and the Dred Scott decision
• John Brown attempted to start a slave
uprising by seizing the weapons at Harper’s
Ferry, Virginia—he was hanged for his
efforts but struck fear in southerners---the
south began mobilizing their militias into
the confederate army
• The Election of 1860 was the final straw–
when a northern Republican (pro-tariff and
against the spread of slavery) named
Abraham Lincoln was elected, the south
decided it was time to secede from the
• Led by South Carolina, 7 states left the
union and formed the Confederate States
of America (11 total)