Growing Divide


Growing Divide


Slavery Divides the Nation

Growing tension over the issue of slavery developed over the years.

With the inclusion of many new territories after the

Mexican-American War, the issue had to be addressed.

First attempt= Wilmot Proviso.

Differing viewpoints emerged, separating the North from the South.

Northern viewpoint: Blacks are inferior, but most agreed that slavery should be ended. Those that did not included merchants, bankers, mill owners and unskilled workers.

Southern viewpoint: Slavery is a necessity; more civilized than the northern system of labor.

New Political Parties

In the election of 1848, Democrats and Whigs split over the issue of slavery.

The Free-Soil Party also started as a response to the issue.

Their foundation was keeping slavery out of the territories, but ending slavery as a whole.

Whigs and Democrats were forced to address the issue, possibly limiting their votes.

Both parties chose to adopt the idea of popular sovereignty  allowing voters in a territory to decide whether to allow slavery.

Though only receiving 10% of the total vote, the Free-Soil

Party was a viable third-party.

Compromise of 1850

California’s desire to join the Union as a free state threatened to disrupt the balance between the North and the South.

What Henry Clay would put forth became known as the

Compromise of 1850 and had 5 parts.

California admitted as a free state;

Those in the territories of NM and Utah would decide via popular sovereignty;

Slave trade would end in D.C.;

Congress would pass a stricter fugitive slave law– private citizens must help with apprehending slaves.

Texas would give up claims to NM for $10 million

Protest and



Resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act

The biggest form of resistance was known as the

Underground Railroad.

It was a series of homes that would provide refuge to the runaway slaves.

Leaders along the route were known as “conductors” and the most famous was Harriet Tubman.

Her nickname was “Black Moses”

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, providing many northerners with an image to equate with slavery.

It infuriated Southerners, who felt it portrayed all

Southerners as evil.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

The patchwork legislation throughout the 1800s that attempted to address slavery confused more than making a clear decision.

In 1854, Stephen Douglas proposed a bill to organize he

Nebraska Territory into a state. Popular sovereignty would determine whether as a free or slave state.

To appease Southerners, Douglas amended his bill to split the Nebraska Territory into two– Nebraska and


It was thought that Nebraska would enter as a free state, Kansas as a slave state.

“Bleeding Kansas”

Both pro and anti-slavery settlers moved to Kansas in an effort to sway popular sovereignty in their favor.

Two governments were established.

One by Border Ruffians who had crossed over from

Missouri and one by northern abolitionists.

Both governments petitioned for statehood in 1856.

Violent battles took place between the two sides, earning it the nickname “Bleeding Kansas”.

Border Ruffians attacked anti-slavery Lawrence, and

John Brown (an abolitionist), retaliated by executing 5 pro-slavery settlers.

Violence in the Senate

In 1856, Charles Sumner (Massachusetts senator) delivered a speech entitled “The Crime Against Kansas”.

Southerners were angered by Sumner’s speech, and further agitated by his personal attacks against Southern representatives.

Preston Brooks, the nephew of SC representative Andrew

Butler attacked Sumner by beating him with a cane.

Both sides (North and South) stood by their representatives, electing them as a symbol for their causes.