The Road to Secession 1854-1860 Incendiary Literature • Harriet Beecher Stowe lit a wildfire of dissension with the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. • The book helped start the war and helped win it. • Hinton Helper (1857) wrote The Impending Crisis of the South, in which he attempted to prove that the non-slaveholding southerners suffered the most from slavery. Bleeding Kansas • Southerners believed the agreement had been reached that Kansas would be slave and Nebraska would be free. • Northern abolitionists and free-soilers fought this assumption by sending pioneers westward. • The New England Emigrant Aid Company sent 2000 settlers many armed with “Beechers Bibles” - the new Sharps rifle. • 1855 - Pro- Slavery “border ruffians” crossed west from Missouri into Kansas on election day to elect the new government at Shawnee Mission. • Free-soilers elected their own government at Topeka. • 1856 - proslavery raiders invaded the free soil town of Lawrence and burned part of the town. • May 1856 -- John Brown and his followers hacked five pro- slavers to death with swords at Pottawatomie Creek. • 1857 - Pro-Slavery forces create the Lecompton Constitution. • Election forced voters to choose between the constitution with slavery or without slavery - slaves in state would be protected no matter what. • Free-soilers boycotted the election - constitution passes with slavery. • President Buchanan backs the Lecompton James Buchanan constitution - Douglas is against it. • Entire constitution is submitted to a vote - free- soilers defeat it. • Kansas doesn’t gain statehood until 1861. • Buchanan and Douglas forces divide the Democratic Party. 1856 - Bully Brooks • Senator Charles Sumner makes a speech in the Senate denouncing southern slavery and insulting Senator Butler of South Carolina. • Congressman Preston Brooks of S.C. attacks and beats Sumner on the floor of the Senate - whips him with a cane. • This incident underscored the inflamed passions arising from the issue of slavery and free-soil. Election of 1856. • Democrats nominate James Buchanan over Douglas and Pierce - too much political baggage from the Kansas- Nebraska Act. • Republicans nominate John C. Fremont, “The Pathfinder” - over “Higher Law” Seward. • Republicans were for free- soil; the Democrats for popular sovereignty. • The American Party (Know- nothings) nominated ex- President Fillmore. The few remaining Whigs also endorsed Fillmore. • Southerners threatened that a Republican victory would be a declaration of war. • Buchanan won the electoral vote without gaining a majority of the popular vote. • The Republican loss was a gain for the north - secession in 1856 would have been easier for the south. The Dred Scott Decision • Dred Scott, a black slave, having lived in the north for five years, sues for his freedom. • Chief Justice Roger B. Taney rules that Scott was a black slave and not a citizen and hence had no standing to bring suit. • The pro-southern majority went further and ruled that slaves, as property, could be taken into any territory and held there. • The fifth amendment denies Congress the power to deprive citizens of their property without due process. • The Missouri Compromise, repealed by the Kansas- Nebraska Act, was now ruled unconstitutional. • Northern free-soilers called the ruling a mere “opinion” and refused to abide by it. • Southerners considered the likelihood of maintaining the bonds of union with states that would not abide by rulings of the supreme court. The Panic of 1857 • Causes • Inflation caused by gold. • Over stimulated grain markets caused by the Crimean War • Over speculation in land and railroads. • Effects • Northwestern grain growers hit the hardest. • High cotton prices kept the south safe from recession. King Cotton • The power of the southern economy reinforced southern ideas that cotton was “king”. • Increased demands for cheap land and higher tariffs Homestead Act • Northerners increased demands for homestead laws giving away government land as 160 acre farms. • Easterners opposed in fear that free land would drain off the labor force. • South opposed it because 160 acres was too small for slave farms. • Buchanan would veto a homestead bill in 1860. The Illinois Rail Splitter • Illinois Senate election of 1858 pit Republican Abraham Lincoln against Democrat Stephen Douglas. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” • Lincoln was born in a log cabin, self educated, married Mary Todd, became a trial lawyer, served one term in Congress (1847-49; “spotty” Lincoln.) Lincoln – Douglas Debates • Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of debates at various location from August to October 1858. • At Freeport, Lincoln challenged Douglas to a dilemma “if the people of a territory voted against slavery who would prevail --the courts or the people?” • With what became called the “Freeport Doctrine,” Douglas answered that court or no court, the people would ultimately decide the fate of slavery in the territories. • Douglas defeated Lincoln - but because of the way Senators were elected - Lincoln actually carried more popular vote. • Douglas’s victory in defiance of the Dred Scott decision further split him from southern Democrats. John Brown and Harper’s Ferry • After the Pottawatomie Massacre in Kansas - Brown began developing a plan to invade the south and start a slave uprising and establish a black free state. • October 1859 - Brown and 20 followers seized the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in Western Virginia. John Brown Holds Hostage at Bay with Rifle • Colonel Robert E. Lee and the U.S. Marines captured Brown and four survivors - Brown is tried for treason and hanged. • His death note warned that slavery would be purged only by “much bloodshed.” • The south saw in Brown their worse fears - that the north was dominated by “Brown- loving” Republicans seeking to steal their property. The Fateful Election of 1860 • Democrats meet in Charleston, SC - southern anti- Douglas delegates walk out and Douglas fails to get 2/3rds vote needed for nomination. • Democrats meet again in Baltimore - southerners again walk but Douglas gets nomination. • Democratic platform is for popular sovereignty and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave laws. • Southern Democrats meet and nominate John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky - platform favored extension of slavery and the annexation of Cuba. • Former Whigs and “know nothings” meet to form the Constitutional Union Party - nominate John Bell of Tennessee - “the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of Laws” • Republicans meet in Chicago - William Seward had too much baggage - Lincoln gets the nomination on the third ballot. Republican platform included • non-extension of slavery, • protective tariff, • no abridgment of immigrants rights, • northern transcontinental railroad, • internal improvements, • free homesteads. • Southern secessionists warned that the south would secede if Lincoln were elected. • Lincoln won the electoral vote by a bare plurality of the popular vote. • South Carolina secessionists rejoiced at Lincoln’s victory - they now had their excuse. • Southern voting did not show a strong sentiment toward disunion - south still had the votes to protect slavery from a constitutional amendment. Secession • Four days after the election South Carolina votes to hold a special convention to debate secession. • On December 18, James Crittenden of Kentucky puts forth a series of compromises • one is to amend the constitution to extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific • President-elect Lincoln flatly refuses the compromise. • December 20, 1860 - South Carolina votes to secede from the union. • Members of the Buchanan cabinet begin to quit in protest over his inaction. • Buchanan held that the southern states had no right to secede but that he had no right to make them stay by force. • Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor is held by Major Robert Anderson - S.C. formally calls for the removal of all federal forces from their territory. • Lincoln is unable and unwilling to do anything in this lame-duck period. • January 1861 - Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana - meet in Montgomery, Alabama to form a provisional government for the Confederate States of America.
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