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Causes of the Civil War: States' Rights

Chesca, Madeline
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Madeline Little

on 19 September 2012

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Transcript of Causes of the Civil War: States' Rights

States' Rights CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR The American Civil War had many causes that cumulated over time and set off one of the bloodiest wars in history. One of these issues was the ongoing debate over states' rights. Chesca Bonnevie and Madeline Little SLAVERY AND THE TERRITORIES From 1832 to 1833, a group of people called the Nullifiers in South Carolina, upset with high protective tariffs destroying the Southern economy and Northerners criticizing the institution of slavery, threatened to secede the Union. South Carolina hoped that other states would follow them. However, at the time, most of the South didn't want to take such drastic measures. NULLIFICATION AND SECESSION QUIZ ANSWERS During the time leading up to the Civil War, the South rallied behind an old issue that had been debated about for a while. It wanted the federal government to be weaker, and the states (especially southern states) to have more power and ability to do as they pleased. When the Compromise of 1850 was passed, the South was not pleased. Despite gaining the Fugitive Slave Act to help recover lost slaves, the South could see the opportunity for slavery to continue in the territories vanishing. It argued that under the Compromise, slavery wasn't being "protected" and therefore neither were the rights of the South. One of the largest issues with territories entering the Union was whether or not they would "protect," or allow slavery, which could upset the balance in Congress between slave holding- and free states, and therefore put the minority group at a serious disadvantage. The first resolution to issues in the territories, the Missouri Compromise, involved Missouri and Maine entering at the same time and keeping the balance in Congress as well as ensuring that no part of the Louisiana Territory above the treaty line (aside from Missouri) would protect slavery. This compromise solved the issue at the time, but with the massive gain in unorganized land from the Mexican War, an upset in the balance once again loomed on the horizon. Debates raged for months over how slavery would be handled in the territories. Multiple solutions were proposed. The four most prominent solutions were: The South would not stand for outright exclusion of slavery in the territories, despite how much the North supported it, because it would mean that the slave-holding South would become a minority. Extending the Missouri Compromise Line would split the California Territory (and also any territories in between), which was not an ideal solution for either party. Popular Sovereignty was the theory that a territory could vote to decide whether or not they would protect slavery in their constitution when they became a state. The North did not condone supporting slavery, especially if there was not a majority of slave owners in the territory, because the South could gain a majority in Congress over the North. Wilmot Proviso This proposed solution, which was for a complete exclusion of slavery in the territories, linked slavery in the territories to the absence of freedom for white people to do as they liked. It implied that Southerners were "degraded" for being dependent on slavery, which led to a strong reaction from the South. Northerners, on the other hand, were very supportive of the Wilmot Proviso. However, the Proviso was not passed through Congress, so legislators were forced to find another solution. The Compromise of 1850 After much argument over the impending statehood of the territories, Henry Clay proposed his last great compromise. It was split into four parts: California would be admitted as a free state. New Mexico and other unorganized territories would decide whether to protect slavery using popular sovereignty (by voting on it). The slave trade in Washington, D.C., would be halted. The Fugitive Slave Law would be passed. This required Northerners to assist Southerners in recovering escaped slaves. Outright exclusion Extension of the Missouri Compromise Line Popular sovereignty Protection of the property of slaveholders, regardless of whether slavery was a majority or not. As a whole, the Compromise of 1850 was rejected. However, when nationalist Stephen Douglas split the Compromise into its four parts and put each through Congress, the individual bills passed due to a different majority of Congress supporting each bill. The North, however, was overjoyed at the opportunity to gain more land, and therefore more seats in Congress in the future. They hoped that this compromise would secure their control of the country. The North also strongly opposed the Fugitive Slave Act, especially the black community, who could be wrenched out of their lives at any moment if a Southerner claimed they were an escaped slave. In fact, the North passed several "personal liberty laws," which prevented the use of state resources in the capture of runaway slaves, which were in direct opposition of the Fugitive Slave Act. Nullification from both sides By the 1840s and 1850s, much of the South's immediate reaction to any sort of legislation that would limit slavery was to protest it and threaten nullification and secession in an attempt to preserve their economy and moral beliefs. The Nullification Crisis, despite minimal support, foreshadowed the Civil War almost thirty years before the country split in half. However, despite not openly stating the end result of their actions, the North basically nullified the Fugitive Slave Act as well under the reason that it denied black citizens their basic rights. Just before the Civil War broke out, many Southerners were preparing to secede from the Union on the basis that the rights of their states would be violated if slavery was abolished, and their entire economy, lifestyle, and moral beliefs compromised. The North was just as determined to keep the Union together, whether it meant compromising more or going to war against part of their country. Basically, both sides used the idea of nullification at some point in history, but the South relied on it much more heavily to try and gain back the rights it felt it had lost. The final straw came when Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. Before then, tensions had risen between southern political parties, who obviously wanted to protect slavery, and the mostly Northern Republican party, who abhorred the moral issue of slavery. The South had threatened to secede the Union to protect their rights if a Republican president was elected because they were sure that they would lose their right to own slaves as a result of that party's ideals. The debate over states' rights lasted several decades, ending with the South executing the ultimate act of disapproval with the federal government: secession and the formation of the Confederate States. Kansas-Nebraska Act DRED SCOTT In 1846, a slave named Dred Scott sued his master's widow for his freedom, claiming that because he was brought into free territory while enslaved, he had gained his freedom. The case escalated so much that it was brought to the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice at the time, Roger Taney, made two significant decisions about the Dred Scott case. The Territory of Kansas African-Americans were not citizens of the US. Taney stated that the Framers had not intended for slaves to ever become citizens, and that blacks were "beings of an inferior order." The Kansas-Nebraska Act, introduced by Senator Stephen Douglas, repealed the Missouri compromise. This allowed the slavery issue to be decided by popular sovereignty, otherwise known as popular vote. Both pro- and anti-slavery settlers poured into Kansas, resulting in multiple clashes that ended in bloodshed or death. The Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional Taney ruled that because this compromise barred people from having a kind of property without due process of law in parts of the country, it went against the Constitution. He then stated that Congress could not bar slavery from the territories. The Dred Scott Decision resulted in an outrage from the North. Black Americans were furious because they had spent years applying themselves to the basic principles of America, and now were denied the privilege of being citizens. Republicans were mad because the very basis of their party, opposing slavery in the territories, was torn apart by this ruling. The North in general was scared because this ruling implied that slavery wasn't prohibited in any state, and could invade the North as well. Fin. 1. Outright Exclusion; Extension of the MO Comp Line; Popular Sovereignty; Protection of Slavery.
2. c.
3. Henry Clay; California admitted as free; New Mexico and other territories decide w/ popular sovereignty; End slave trade in DC; Fugitive Slave Act.
4. South not too happy but accepted; North extremely unhappy and passed several laws against it.
5. b.
6. The Nullification Crisis.
7. No; North essentially nullified FSA; could also be yes if Northern actions not considered nullification or significant enough.
8. a.
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