The History of the United States
The Battle of Fort Sumter, which took place in 1861, marked the beginning of the American Civil War. The Civil War was marked by conflicts between the southern and northern states on the question of slavery, which became the focal point of the conflict. This dissertation examines the topic of slavery in the United States, as well as the circumstances that led to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The subject of slavery served as the primary cause of contention between the Northern and Southern states in the United States of America. The southern states had grown on the basis of an agrarian economy, whilst the northern states had developed on the basis of an industrial economy. Agrarian economies of the southern states relied heavily on slave work, which resulted in tensions within the union when the northern states abolished the use of slaves and replaced them with low-wage employees to make up for the loss of slave labor. Slaves were employed by the southern states to care for the huge estates, and the slaves eventually became part of the corporate property. Specifically, it was difficult for the southern states to outlaw the usage of slaves in favor of federal regulations that would ensure the survival of the union in this particular instance. Due to the issue of slavery, the southern states were compelled to strive for the adoption of a constitution, despite the fact that their economic circumstances were distinct from those of the northern and western states. The issue of slavery resulted in power battles between the rights of individual states and the federal government’s authority to restrict or abolish slavery within a state (History Net. 2015).
From the 1830s onward, the abolitionist movement grew in strength and influence, prompting an equally strong opposition from slave owners in the southern United States. It was individuals who felt that all people were created equal and that no one deserved to be treated as a slave that formed the foundation of the abolitionist movement. Sustaining compliance with higher rules of humanity and human dignity over constitutional provisions that permitted individual governments to manage particular concerns, such as slavery, was the goal of the abolitionist movement. In the United States, sectionalism manifested itself in the abolitionist movement, which fought for causes that caused divisions between the southern and northern states. Sectionalism contributed to the escalation of political divisions in the federal government by advocating for either slavery or anti-slavery measures on a state-by-state basis. Sectionalism was also at the heart of the southern states’ demand for independence from the United Kingdom (History Net. 2015).
Following the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the southern states intensified their efforts to gain independence from the United States. The Missouri Compromise was a result of the United States-Mexican War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848 and resulted in the formation of additional territories. These states were opposed to the establishment of an anti-slavery policy by the abolitionists, who argued that slaves should be protected under the law. Because of the moral concerns linked with slavery, Missouri’s application to become a slave state sparked a spirited debate in Congress, which was ultimately defeated (Civil War Trust. 2014). Because of the existence of pro-slavery legislators in Missouri, an effort to refuse Missouri’s admission through the United States Congress would have sparked a more intense surge of opposition in the state. As part of the Missouri Compromise, the United States Congress made a series of decisions in which some territories were admitted as free states while others were designated as slave states. Among its many accomplishments, the Missouri Compromise contributed significantly to the establishment of a political precedent that was later invoked by the southern states in their fight to retain their status as slave states. Political settlement in which the abolitionist movements would be restricted to the northern states, as well as a policy that would reduce the federal government’s meddling with slavery, were sought by the southern states.
The southern states made a push for a new settlement that would protect their interests in slavery, which was the next development. The 1950 Compromise was a program that was intended to bring about a resolution of the disagreements between the southern and northern states by establishing a legal framework for the treatment of slavery. The idea was met with strong opposition in the United States Congress, and it failed to win a majority vote until President Zachary was assassinated in 1881. His successor, Millard Fillmore, was more accommodating to the compromise, which resulted in the agreement’s passage via Congress. California was admitted as a free state as a result of the compromise reached in 1950. In exchange, the federal government promised that it would not interfere with slavery in the states of Utah and New Mexico if they chose to do so. The 1950 Compromise resulted in Texas losing its claim to the territory in New Mexico, but the state received compensation from the federal government. Also as a result of the Compromise, Northern states were required to return runaway slaves to their owners in the South, or face a legal penalty (Civil War Trust, 2014). This compromise set the foundation for future conflict, since the northern states would eventually break some of the stipulations of the agreement, resulting in fresh differences.
Following the passage of the Compromise of 1950, a new surge of anti-slavery emotions erupted, fueled by the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1951. The book was an anti-slavery fiction that provided a clear depiction of the plight of slaves in the southern United States of America. Many people in the northern states were unaware of the problem of slavery until they read the publication, which revealed new facts about the plight of slavery that had previously been unknown to them. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852 and quickly became a national and international bestseller (Civil War Trust. 2014). The book was a significant success in the abolitionist movements since it contributed to the growth of support for the abolition of slavery throughout the entire United States area.
Between 1854 and 1861, the clauses of the 1950 Compromise, as well as the publishing of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, played an important influence in the formation of the Bleeding Kansas. There were intermittent outbreaks of violence between pro-slavery and anti-slavery advocates throughout the Bleeding Kansas period, which resulted in the deaths of 56 persons. The violent occurrences began in 1854, when the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned several parts of the 1950 Compromise, was barely passed by Congress and signed into law. Because of strong disputes that led some members of Congress to threaten each other with guns during the Congressional debate on the topic, violence erupted during the debate. A Supreme Court judgment issued in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, in 1857, gave the advocates of slavery in the southern states a lifeline just before the end of the Bleeding Kansas campaign in 1861. (Civil War Trust, 2014). The court ruled that slaves were treated as a type of property by their owners and that they did not have any rights to be recognized as equal human beings with their owners in order to obtain recognition as such. The ruling jeopardized the federal government’s provisions that had managed to avert the outbreak of a civil war, while on the other side, it provided a measure of legitimacy to the claims made by the southern states during the American Civil War.
During the attack on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, the Southerners began arming themselves in preparation for a probable civil war. This marked the beginning of the Civil War in the United States. In 1860, President Abraham Lincoln was elected with a significant margin of victory, continuing this trend. President Lincoln was elected on the platform of an anti-slavery party, which heightened tensions in the southern states. Southern Carolina declared its independence from the United States shortly after the election. By the spring of 1861, six more states had declared their independence. Following the secession, numerous federal ports, including Fort Sumter, were designated as foreign territories. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate state of Carolina opened fire on a supply convoy sent by President Abraham Lincoln to Fort Sumter, sparking the beginning of the American Civil War. President Lincoln mobilized a Northern army of 75,000 volunteers, but the southern states were adamant about not sending troops to fight in the war against the Union (Civil War Trust, 2014). As the southern states understood that they were doomed to loss, they decided to re-join the Union.