COLLAPSE OF COMPROMISE - S · PDF file Missouri Compromise line. Despite the outrage felt by...

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Transcript of COLLAPSE OF COMPROMISE - S · PDF file Missouri Compromise line. Despite the outrage felt by...



    TERRITORIES • The greatest danger to the survival of American

    liberty and Union was the sectional conflict between North and South over the future of slavery.

    • Slavery was a national problem that affected both sections of the country.

    • Peoples’ perception of reality determined the actions of people from North and South.

    • Southerners and northerners believed that slave society would have to expand or perish.

  • WILMOT PROVISO • President Polk asked Congress for $2 million to

    negotiate a peace with Mexico so that he could acquire California.

    • Representative David Wilmot (PA) proposed adding an amendment to the appropriations bill barring slavery in all lands acquired from Mexico. – Passes in House twice – Rejected by Senate

    • Outraged southerners responded with threats of disunion.

    • Wilmot argued that “slavery has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.”


    • Henry Clay pleaded with his countrymen on February 5, 1850: “I implore gentlemen … whether from the South or the North … to pause at the edge of the precipice, before the fearful and dangerous leap be taken into the yawning abyss below, from which none who ever take it shall return in safety.”


    • California admitted as a free state • Slave trade in District of Columbia abolished • Texas received $10 million in exchange for claim

    to New Mexico territory • New Mexico territory organized into two

    territories—New Mexico and Utah—on the basis of popular sovereignty

    • Congress to pass a tougher fugitive slave law • Pushed through by Stephen Douglas


  • BREAKDOWN • Further agitation of the slavery question in the territories led

    to the breakdown of the Compromise of 1850. • In 1850 Frederick Douglass wisely recognized that

    compromise over slavery was virtually impossible. “The fact is the more the question has been settled, the more it has needed settling.”

    • Under Constitution, federal government could do little to appease deeply troubled southerners – Slave states lagging behind free states in wealth and numbers – South lost control over House; lost majority in Senate – No southerner could realistically become president

    • Northerners deeply troubled by moral, economic, and political consequences of slavery realized the Constitution gave the federal government no power over the “peculiar institution” within the states.

  • FUGITIVE SLAVE ACT • Made assistance of runaway

    slaves a federal crime (aiding and embedding $1000 fine, 6 months imprisonment)

    • Authorized the arrest of escaped slaves even in states where slavery was illegal

    • Most blacks in danger • Bounty system used by slave-

    catchers • Trial by jury ignored • Judges given incentive to

    convict • Personal liberty laws

  • OPPOSING STEREOTYPES • Federal government did possess the authority to restrict

    slavery from the territories. • Some northerners vowed to resist the further extension of

    slavery into the territories • When northerners criticized slavery, they were condemning

    the Southern way of life – Backward; “Slave Power” – Slavery barrier to achievement of the American ideals of

    democratic equality—the values of individualism, democracy, equality of opportunity

    • Free soil, free labor, and free men; slavery must collapse • Southern stereotypes of northerners

    – Fanatical abolitionists hell bent on destroying Southern society – Imperial North; containment meant abolition

  • UNLIMITED EXTENSION • Jefferson Davis: “We of the South are

    an agricultural people, and we require an extended territory. Slave labor is a wasteful labor, and it therefore requires a still more extended territory than would the same pursuits if they could be prosecuted by the more economical labor of white men…. [Restriction of slave territory would] crowd upon our soil an overgrown black population, until there will not be room in the country for whites and blacks to subsist in, and in this way [it would] destroy the institution [of slavery] and reduce the whites to the degraded position of the African race.”


    • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel aroused antislavery sentiments in the North more than any other literary event

    • “Tom on a cross” • Upon meeting Stowe in

    1862, Lincoln is said to have remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”


    • Historian David Herbert Donald contends: “These rival sectional stereotypes, with their shared conclusion about the importance of the expansion of slavery, are what made the political controversies of the 1850s such intense struggles over what appears to be a very narrow issue. In every instance the pattern was the same: a powerful and growing majority based in the North opposed an entrenched and increasingly unified minority in the South. The consequence of the successive clashes was to weaken, one after another, the traditional bonds of Union.”

  • KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT • Introduced by Senator Stephen Douglas, the Kansas-Nebraska Act

    (1854) organized Kansas and Nebraska into territories on the basis of popular sovereignty. The act proved to be a monumental fiasco that reopened the divisive issue of slavery in the territories and inflamed sectional tensions worse than ever. The measure nullified the Missouri Compromise line. Despite the outrage felt by northerners, southerners could freely extend slavery there until such time as the residents voted to outlaw it.

    • Southerners on Capitol Hill maneuvered Douglas into the repeal of the Missouri Compromise line because they feared that slavery would die out if it could not expand into new territory. Southern spokesmen.

    • Kansas became a battleground for the sectional struggle over the territories and future states as well as which section would control the Union. Hostility between antislavery and proslavery forces escalated, leading to a brutal civil war within the Kansas Territory, which became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” When Americans began killing Americans over the future of slavery, it developed into a dress rehearsal for the Civil War.

  • THE RUB • Abraham Lincoln, at the time a lawyer

    and congressman from Illinois, acknowledged the legal right to hold slaves in existing slave states while supporting the idea of gradual emancipation and the containment of slavery. He attacked the Kansas- Nebraska Act as an enemy to democracy.

    • Lincoln wrote to a southerner: “You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub.”

    • Lincoln said: “I hate [slavery] because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions to taunt us as hypocrites.”

  • DISINTEGRATION • The successive clashes set in

    motion by the Kansas-Nebraska Act eroded “the traditional bonds of Union”—national political parties, a faith in the Constitution, and nationalistic oratory—and sent the nation hurtling toward civil war. Expansion was no longer a means of compromise.

    • The Republican party organized in 1854 to oppose the extension of slavery.

    • A fanatical abolitionist, John Brown led bloody raids against proslavery forces in Kansas.

  • ASSAULT IN THE SENATE • Senator Charles Sumner (MA) delivered his famous oration “The

    Crime Against Kansas,” claiming that Bleeding Kansas served as evidence of the desperate attempt of southerners to rape that “virgin territory, compelling it to the hateful embrace of slavery. Sumner assailed Douglas and made personal references to the elderly Senator Andrew Butler (SC). Sumner charged Butler with having “chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him, though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight … the harlot, Slavery.”

    • On May 22, 1856 Representative Preston Brooks (SC) savagely maimed Sumner with a cane in retaliation for the offensive speech.

    • Southerners viewed Brooks as a hero who defended the honor of a slaveholder against abolitionist slander. To abolitionists Sumner became a martyr to the cause of freedom.

    • Violence over the slavery issue was fast becoming all too commonplace.


  • 1857: YEAR OF DECISION • In the infamous Dred Scott decision, a pro-southern

    Supreme Court held that neither Congress nor the territories (as creatures of Congress) could outlaw slavery, on the ground that this would violate the property rights clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The decision also ruled that blacks could not be United States citizens.

    • Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that blacks possessed “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

    • President Buchanan and Chief Justice Taney miscalculated in thinking the Court could resolve the slavery question once and for all. The intrusion of the Supreme Court created an unprecedented political dilemma