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Sectionalism and "The House Divided"

Expansion, Sectionalism and Extremism leads to Secession and Civil War in the U.S.

Jason Harding

on 13 November 2014

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Transcript of Sectionalism and "The House Divided"

US History – Mr. Harding 2013-2014
Sectionalism Supplemental
I. The Impact of the War with Mexico:
Southern slave owners continued to argue that the U.S. Constitution reinforced slavery and provided them with the right to cross state lines to retrieve slaves that had run away.
Many Northerners disagreed and ratcheted up their efforts to hide runaways. The Mexican War augmented this problem by opening new westward territories.
President Polk sees trouble ahead....
...Hmmm...I see Trouble Ahead...
Polk was a southern Democratic slaveholder who felt that the question of western expansion of slavery was not really a question at all.
He felt that the southwest was not geographically / climatically suited to the kinds of agriculture that induced slavery...
Boy was he wrong. It was a huge issue and Polk himself wondered if the issue of slavery would “threaten the Union itself” ...
Hmmm...I wonder if Slavery will threaten the Union?
The Wilmot Proviso (1846):
A Democratic representative from PA (David Wilmot BTW) added a provision to a war appropriations bill that asserted that slavery should not be adopted in any territory gained by the war with Mexico.
The proposal outraged most southern slaveholders and politicians. The feeling was that any legislation restricting slavery would restrict slavery everywhere eventually.
It was passed in the House but rejected in the Senate – technically, the Senate refused to vote on it. Guess who controlled the Senate "Party-wise"? That's right...the Whigs...
John C. Calhoun of South Carolina proposed a counter-resolution to the Wilmot Proviso

AKA the Calhoun Resolutions. They were never adopted but they were debated in the Senate.

Yes, its true...John C. Calhoun was still alive and kickin' in 1846...talk about a career politician!
Calhoun argued that the States held the new territories “in common”

AND ... Congress had no right to ban slavery in those territories because of State communal ownership of them.

AND... Calhoun suggested that civil war would erupt if the north did not heed the warnings of the south. (1846)
Popular Sovereignty:
It was clear that the issue of expanding slavery west was huge.
Enter Lewis Cass, Senator from Michigan.

Cass suggested that the citizens of each new territory be able to vote on the issue themselves – you know, like a Democracy (what!?).

This suggestion appealed politicians because it avoided the
divisive issue of slavery.

Many Midwest and northern states felt good about it because they felt that it would be their people inhabiting most of the new territory anyway.
The Free-Soil Party Emerges in the Election of 1848.

The Election of 1848 was one of the most divisive elections and saw the fragmentation of many different parties.

It broke down kind of like this:
The Whig Party (the one created to oppose Jacksonian Democrats) chose Zachary Taylor, a war hero from the Mexican War as their candidate.
Conscience Whigs: Northern Whigs opposed to slavery and to Taylor because it appeared that as a president, he would allow slavery to expand westward. These people had Charles Sumner and an Adams in their ranks...they didn't nominate a Presidential candidate but they split up the Whig Party...
Cotton Whigs: Northern politicians linked to the Southern Whig party members who supported Taylor. It was business (cotton from the south supplied northern textile mills).
Northern Democrats: Members of the Democratic Party that were opposed to slavery (mostly from New York State).
Democrats: Based in the south and upon Jacksonian principles – pro-slavery, pro slave expansion, pro slave rights. Surprisingly, that Senator from Michigan, Lewis Cass was their nominee for President.
Liberty Party: Composed of Abolitionists
The Free-Soil Party: Northern Democrats, Conscience Whigs and members of the Liberty Party formed for the 1848 election and nominated former president Martin Van Buren.
Whig Party + Free-Soil Party + Democratic Party = Zachary Taylor as President in 1848.
II. The Search for Compromise...
Gold in California prompted the application to statehood and whether or not it would become “free” or “slave”. You know, the whole “Miner 49ers” and all that; like the NFL team.
That’s right.
Yes it is true, Zachary Taylor was a Whig and a southerner and a slaveholder.

Taylor did not think that slavery was a huge issue for westward expansion (like Polk)

and so... allowed California to apply to the Union as a free state. Good idea right?
The application of CA as a free state sparked some of the first, open proposals for secession by the south.

Don’t forget that New Mexico is out there too…
B. Enter the Clay.
Henry Clay that is. Remember the Compromise of 1820?
What did that do again?
Once again, Clay enters the scene in order to propose legislation that would prevent the Union from dissolving.
In early 1850, Clay proposed concessions for both “sides” of the debate...
1. California would be admitted free but the other Mexican territories would have no restrictions on slavery.

2. A new border between New Mexico and Texas was drawn up favoring N.M. but the federal government would assume the debts of Texas...you know, when Texas was an Independent Republic...(?right?)

3. The District of Columbia would ban the slave trade but not slavery itself. What is the difference there?
4. Congress would now be restricted from interfering with the slave trade within the states and ...

5. Would enact new legislation reinforcing a new Fugitive Slave Act (nationwide) based upon the "Slave clause" of the USC...
Massive debate ensued over the 1850 Compromise.

Calhoun’s response to the Compromise was grim at best and not very flexible (he was also dying of TB).

Calhoun was seen as the leader of the southern Senators on this issue and his position would influence most of their conclusions.

His response clearly advocated southern secession if slavery continued to be attacked politically and even socially.
Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts then responded to Calhoun’s message / ultimatum:
“There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility…I see that it must produce war, and such a war as I will not describe”
The Compromise of 1850:

The bill did not pass after debate and Zachary Taylor was going to veto it anyway...
Then that summer, President Taylor died of a stomach bug (16 months into his presidency) from food he ate at an Independence Day celebration...cherries soaked in milk...in 1850...in July...in Washington, D.C.
They didn't have Pepto back then....
B-T-Dubs... His son (Richard) would be a general in the Confederate Army....
Millard Fillmore succeeded Taylor as President and due to Calhoun’s death from T.B., (FINALLY!!) he was able to sign the bill into law in 1850.
Thank goodness, that South Carolinian Kook is dead..I can get this Bill signed into law...now...where did I leave my smile?
A young Senator from Illinois, Stephen Douglas, broke the actual Compromise into several bills; all of them were eventually passed...
It also meant that within the same year, a new Fugitive Slave Act was passed...
The provisions of this act would become highly inflammatory because of the process of “catching” fugitive slaves in the north.
Oral testimony or a written statement and a “positive” physical identification were all that was required.
The accused had no right of trial or of testimony. A “federal commissioner” and not a judge made the decisions.
If he decided for the slaveholder, the government paid him $10 (that is about $200 in today’s value).
If he decided in favor of the accused escaped slave, $5.
....and that brings us to a little book written by Harriet Beecher Stowe...
By the way, Lyman Beecher was her dad..and Catherine Beecher was her sister...
Harriet's sister founded Hartford Female Academy and her pops was a leader of a massive religious revivalist movement from CT -AND -as you can see from this quote from 1833...
He was a big-time believer of MANIFEST DESTINY....
"The moral destiny of our nation, and all our institutions and hopes, and the world's hopes, turns on the character of the West, and the competition now is for that pre-occupancy in the education of the rising generation, in which Catholics and infidels have got the start on us."
-Lyman Beecher (Father of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Oh...did I mention that he was a "Nativist" as well?
But, back to H.B.S. and her collection of stories that would become
Uncle Tom's Cabin..
Published in 1852...what was going on then in the U.S.?

Anyway, published in 1852...it soon went GLOBAL...being translated into over 60 languages and selling over 1.5 MILLION copies in the first year of publication...pretty huge...
Why did she write it?
"I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother, I was oppressed and broken-hearted with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity - because as a lover of my county, I trembled at the coming day of wrath."
So...literature had a major impact on the "neutral" person in the Pro / Anti Slavery debate in the U.S.
So - not only were people READING about the social injustice of slavery, they were now EXPERIENCING IT due to the new Fugitive Slave Act adopted in 1850...why was that again?
And that brings us to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and pretty much the END of political solutions to the slavery issue in the United States...
Oh, yeah...
In the wake of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, which forced Northern law enforcement officers to aid in the recapture of runaways, more than ten thousand fugitive slaves swelled the flood of those fleeing to Canada.
So, what happens when states want to apply for statehood but it looks like they might be a slave state north of the 1820 Mo. Comp line?
Enter the Douglas...Stephen Douglas...you know, the Democratic Senator from Illinois who got the 1850 Compromise Laws passed...the guy who will beat Abraham Lincoln in a Senate race in 1858...
The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) repealed the
Missouri Compromise
, allowing slavery in the territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude.

Introduced by Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, the Kansas-Nebraska Act stipulated that the issue of slavery would be decided by the residents of each territory,
a concept known as popular sovereignty

After the bill passed on May 30, 1854,
violence erupted in Kansas between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, a prelude to the Civil War.
That episode was called "Bleeding Kansas"

Because if you're dead...you can't vote...
The results in the U.S. Senate, hearing the news of citizens killing one-another over the issue of slavery led one politician, Charles Sumner, to denounce the Kansas-Nebraska Act and to verbally attack its sponsors in 1856...
"Not in any common lust for power did this uncommon tragedy have its origin.
It is the rape of a virgin Territory, compelling it to the hateful embrace of slavery
; and it may be clearly traced to a depraved desire for a new Slave State, hideous offspring of such a crime,
in the hope of adding to the power of slavery in the National Government." - Charles Sumner
And then Chuck went a little too far...
He then said this the South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler (who had co-sponsored the Act with Douglas)...
Senator Butler has taken..."a mistress who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean, the harlot, Slavery." BAM!!
Andrew Butler's Cousin (some say Nephew), Representative Preston Brooks did not take that statement very well. He walked over to the Senate and decided to have a gentleman-to-gentleman "talk" with Sumner...
Yeah...he basically beat Senator Sumner nearly to death on the Senate floor...
Anti-Slavery politicians and activists were enraged and hundreds of thousands of copies of Sumner's speech were re-printed and distributed.
Brooks was fined $300
Several dozen Pro-Slavery Congressmen sent Brooks a new cane...due to the fact that Brooks had broken his over the unconscious body of Sumner on the Senate floor. Classy. Inscribed on the cane was,
"Hit Him Again!"
DRED SCOTT! Yes, another result of the War with Mexico...how do you figure?
But wait, let's back up to the election of 1856 again shall we? You know, the one where James Buchanan won?
I'm James Buchanan and I approved this portrait. I will also be
Due to the support that the Democrats had in 1856, they would end up winning the election of 1856. It may have been the first serious negative campaign because many
southern Democrats campaigned for secession if this REPUBLICAN dude named John C. Fremont were to be elected.

Buchanan won the 1856 Presidential Election.
James Buchanan (as President) did not stop the animosity between the Anti-Slavery north and the Pro-Slavery south.

He proclaimed that secession was illegal BUT to combat secession with force was also illegal.
Yes, but he knew something that most other people didn't know...
In 1857, when Buchanan assumed the Presidency, he declared in his inaugural speech that the
Supreme Court should be the governmental body to decide on slavery
– not the legislature
Buchanan knew that the Supreme Court was about to deliver an opinion about a slave who had been transported with his master from Missouri (slave) to Illinois (free) and Wisconsin Territory (free).
This was the Dred Scott Decision.
In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that
Dred Scott was not a citizen of the United States
and could not, therefore, sue the government in court.
In addition to that, the
Chief Justice, Roger B. Taney
issued the opinion that having a
“free-soil” state, that is, a free territory
was not constitutional and therefore was void in the court’s opinion.
This meant that both the
Northwest Ordinance
and the
Missouri Compromise

were unconstitutional.
In a wise decision, President Buchanan then urged the citizenry of Kansas to apply for statehood...And then...
Of course the Anti-Slavery constituents voted for “free” statehood while the pro-slavery faction adopted a Constitution that made Kansas a slave state.
Buchanan accepted the vote of the pro-slave constituents and asked Congress to adopt Kansas as a slave state.
Senate approved the Lecompton Constitution (the Anti-Slave one...)
but the House rejected it on Stephen Douglas’ urging.

The debate was so heated that
fist fights broke out on the floor

Kansas would not become a state until 1861.
Yes - that is true...eventually, Dred Scott became free after
a man named Henry Taylor Blow purchased his freedom
from Scott's former owner...


NOOO - Not the Vampire Hunter!
Yeah - That guy...the guy who
left the Whigs and joined the Republican Party in 1856
He decided to run against the Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas...what did that guy do again?
Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party:

Originally a pro-Clay Whig, Abraham Lincoln strove to leave his humble roots behind and entered Illinois politics as a lawyer.
He was elected to Congress in 1846 – the same year as the U.S.-Mexican War and the Wilmot Proviso.
Lincoln’s approach to politics was moderate at that time and made him unpopular – he lost reelection and returned to his law practice.
It would be the 1858 debates with Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas that would solidify him as a leading voice of the newly formed
Republican Party.
Lincoln and Douglas:

The Republican Party of Illinois pushed the relative “newcomer” to run for Senate in 1858.
You know...that guy...Stephen Douglas who had just gotten the Kansas-Nebraska Act signed into law? Compromise of 1850? You know...
Yeah - that guy...
The Lincoln Douglas debates have become recognized as the starting point for Lincoln’s rise to political fame.

He did not win the election, but he did gain national fame by outlining the Republican Party’s platform.
Lincoln was
not an abolitionist
but he did support the notion that slavery should not extend west.

His reasoning was that if
slavery was the issue that divided the nation, why would the nation want to expand it?
This introduced the era of Lincoln’s famous
“House Divided”

as well as the famous
“Freeport Doctrine”
proposed by Stephen Douglas regarding the limits of federal control over slavery and the rights of popular sovereignty.
The midterm election of 1858 saw the
Republican Party unify and take a majority in Congress.

This scared many pro-slavery Democrats who began to utter the
“S” word in state conventions…

but it did not scare them as much as…
Actually, they are the same guy...

John Brown
...he led a raid against the Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry Virginia....
One month before the national presidential election (1860) , an evangelical abolitionist from Kansas Territory along with a group of 18 men (both African American and White) carried out the raid...
Their plan was to take the armory by surprise and then use the weapons and ammunition to start a huge, full-scale slave revolt just 50 miles from Washington, D.C.
The raid was unsuccessful and Brown along with his co-conspirators were
executed for treason.
He became a martyr for abolitionists and a
symbol for pro-slavery politicians.
Lincoln would be elected President in the 1860 election...
Secession: You guessed it.

It all started in South Carolina

...the home state of that big “S-Word guy”,
John C. Calhoun (dead and buried).
Right after the November election, the SC state legislature called for an emergency session. During the session, they voted to adopt an “Ordinance of Secession” from the Union. It was accepted on Christmas Eve, 1860.

I know, I know, your text says December 20th! But they voted on it on the 20th and then adopted it Christmas EVE! Get over it!
By February of 1861, six other southern states had done the same: Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida...That is why your textbook calls it "Secession Winter" ...get it?
South Carolina was the first state to adopt “Articles of Secession”. In rapid succession, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana would adopt similar ordinances.

President Buchanan attempted to resolve the conflict with passive words…It didn’t work and every secessionist state began to “confiscate” all federal property.

The only “federal property” that was not confiscated was located on the offshore Federal Army forts of Sumter and Pickens (SC and GA)...
Lincoln Takes Office:

About one month after the CSA was formed, Lincoln gave his first inaugural address.
Founding the Confederacy 2/8/1861: The Confederate States of America (CSA). The Secessionist State representatives met in Montgomery, Alabama and drafted their own Constitution.
Some differences included: A guarantee to slavery in each state, stronger state governments, a ban on “protective” tariffs (something that southern business leaders had always hated about the federal government) and a single, six-year term of the President.
They chose former Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as their President (not elected Democratically I might add).
“In your hands my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without yourselves being the aggressors…”

From his inaugural address 3/4/1861.
Guess who was detached / activated from the US Army from Arlington, VA to deal with Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry?
This guy:
Full transcript