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|1787||Northwest Ordinance bans slavery in the Northwest Territory; makes Ohio River the boundary between free and slave territory between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Mason and Dixon line remains the dividing line in east.|
|1790||Slave population in Federal Census: 698,000|
|1798||The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions are written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and are passed by the two states in opposition to the Federal Alien and Sedition Acts.|
|1801||Gabriel Plot frightens whites in Virginia who believe there was a plot for a slave uprising|
|1804||New Jersey enacts gradual abolition of slavery, the final northern state to do so|
|1808||Congress outlaws the international slave trade. Later the Royal Navy and U.S. Navy enforce the prohibition.|
|1816||American Colonization Society formed to send freed slaves to Liberia. About 12,000 are sent. Society led by James Monroe, Henry Clay and other prominent slave owners|
|1820||Slave population in Census: 1,538,000|
|1820||Missouri Compromise admits Maine as a free state, and Missouri as slave state, but restricts any more slavery north of 36° 30' line. Abrogated by Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.|
|1822||Vesey Plot frightens whites in South Carolina, who believe there was a plot for a slave uprising|
|1828||Calhoun's South Carolina Exposition and Protest outlines nullification doctrine. Calhoun threatens secession over tariffs. Calhoun also objected to the use of taxes and tariffs collected in one state being used for internal improvements to another state.|
|1829||David Walker publishes Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World calling on slaves to revolt.|
|1830||Daniel Webster delivers a memorable Reply to Hayne, denouncing the notion that Americans must choose between liberty and union. "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!" he cries.|
|1832||President Andrew Jackson threatens force to end threats of secession in South Carolina caused by the Nullification Crisis.|
|1836||In response to petition campaigns, the U.S. House of Representatives adopts a gag rule, by which all antislavery petitions presented to the House would be immediately tabled, without discussion. John Quincy Adams leads an eight year battle against the gag rule, arguing that the Slave Power, as a political interest, threatens constitutional rights.|
|1837||Mob kills abolitionist and anti-Catholic editor Elijah P. Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois;|
|1839||Slaves revolt on the Amistad.|
|1840||Slave population in Census: 2,487,000|
|1844||The Methodist Episcopal Church, South breaks away from Methodist Episcopal Church on issue of slavery.|
|1845||The Southern Baptist Convention breaks off; does not formally endorse slavery.|
|1845||Frederick Douglass publishes his first autobiography.|
|1845||Texas Annexation denounced by anti-slavery forces as evil expansion of slave territory. Whigs defeat annexation treaty but annexation is accomplished with a joint resolution on majority vote.|
|1846||James D.B. DeBow establishes DeBow's Review, the leading Southern magazine; warns against depending on the North economically. DeBow's Review emerges as the leading voice for secession. DeBow emphasizes the South's economic underdevelopment, relating it to the concentration of manufacturing, shipping, banking, and international trade in the North.|
|1846||Oregon Treaty ends Oregon boundary dispute, defines final western segment of Canada – United States border and ends war scare with Great Britain. Northern Democrats complain Polk Administration backed down on Fifty-four forty or fight and sacrificed Northern expansion.|
|1846||Mexican War starts when Polk Administration deploys Army to disputed Texas territory resulting in Mexican attack. Whigs denounce war; antislavery critics charge war is a pretext for gaining more slave territory. U.S. Army quickly captures New Mexico. Northern representatives pass Wilmot Proviso to ban slavery in territory to be captured, but South blocks it in Senate. Proposal to extend Missouri Compromise line and other compromises fail.|
|1849||General Zachary Taylor elected President after keeping views on slavery in Southwest secret during campaign, then reveals plan to admit California and New Mexico as free states covering entire Southwest and excluding creation of territories subject to slavery controversy. Taylor warns South that rebellion will be met with force.|
|1849||California Gold Rush suddenly populates Northern California with Northern and immigrant settlers outnumbering Southerners; state constitutional convention unanimously rejects slavery.|
|1850||Texas, supported by South, demands land in New Mexico. Controversy over slavery on Southwest ended by five-point Compromise of 1850, proposed by Henry Clay and brokered by Stephen A. Douglas. Southern California becomes part of a free state, and eastern New Mexico and other northern Texas claims become not part of a slave state. South is compensated with Texas debt relief, stiffened Fugitive Slave Law, and popular sovereignty theoretically allowing slavery in New Mexico Territory and Utah Territory. Slavery is retained in District of Columbia but slave trade banned. Southern Unionists prevail this time as secessionists lose momentum, but South declares no further concessions to North will be tolerated. Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 turns out to offend Northerners; then Southerners angered by Northern resistance to enforcement.|
|1851||Southern Unionists in several states defeat secession measures; Mississippi's convention denies the existence of the right to secession.|
|1855-1856||Violence breaks out in "Bleeding Kansas"|
|1856||Preston Brooks canes Charles Sumner on floor of Senate; North takes the lesson that compromise is harder and violence is near surface. In presidential election Republican John C. Frémont crusades against slavery; the slogan is "Free speech, free press, free soil, free men, Frémont and victory!" Democrats counter-crusade, warning of civil war, and win.|
|1860||Slave population in Census: 3,954,000|
Summary and Main Points
The first act concerning slavery in the United States was the Northwest Ordinance Act of 1787. This act declared that there was no slavery allowed above the Ohio River. This was the beginning of the divisions of the country over the issue of slavery. It also established what made up many of the northern anti-slavery states in the Civil War. The Northwest Ordinance Act started the long series of events that led up to the Civil War.
The Missouri Compromise was the next declaration that stated where slavery could exist. Henry Clay of Kentucky came up with this idea, which stated the following: Missouri is a slave state; Maine is a free state; and the 36°30' line was the official dividing line between the free North and slave South. This act, passed in 1820, kept a balance in the Senate, with twelve free states and twelve slave states. This was beneficial to the South, but only for a time, for the most of the land beneath the 36°30' line was under Mexico’s control. This meant that the North would eventually receive most of the territories in the West like Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. For the balance to remain, the South would have to gain land from Mexico.
In 1846, the Wilmot Proviso was passed. This bill said that Northern congressmen would only vote for the war if the land acquired from it became more free states. The primary reason for the South fighting this war was to gain such land for slavery. This strongly angered southerners and only widened the gap between the two changing regions.
In 1850, however, the government made a complete turn from where it formerly stood on slavery. In the Compromise of 1850, a strongly pro-southern bill, all territories were open to popular sovereignty (the majority decides on slavery in the territory), basically meaning that the Wilmot Proviso was repealed. This bill, created, too, by Henry Clay, also established the Fugitive Slave Act, which said that all U.S. citizens were required to return any runaway slaves to their owner. Even though this was not strongly enforced, its meaning infuriated Northerners; their government had essentially accepted slavery as just and was enforcing its upholding. In addition, taxpayers were required to pay Texas $10 million to give up its claims to New Mexico, which would allow the creation of yet another slave state. The only part of the Missouri Compromise that benefited the North was that California became a free state and slave trade was disallowed in Washington D.C.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act helped to even the playing field between the North and the South. Stephen Douglas from Illinois came up with such an act primarily to benefit his home state, specifically Chicago, by making these two territories states sooner, allowing for the construction of railroads. This act allowed the people of Kansas and Nebraska to choose the outcome of their states. Of course, both Northerners and Southerners rushed to these territories to express their opinion in the voting.
By 1856, the country began seeing violence between the two groups, and this started in Kansas. Pro-slavery looters known as Border Ruffians angered anti-slavery activist John Brown. In response, he and his sons massacre five men from Pottawatomie Creek. These actions became known as Bleeding Kansas, and heightened tensions all the more between the North and South.
The final, and possibly most influential, cause of the Civil War was the Supreme Court case The Dred Scott Decision. This began when a formerly free slave, Dred Scott, attempted to file a suit against his owner because he had lived in free states/territories. He lost this case, and the Court decided that: Slaves were not citizens, and, therefore, cannot sue; living in a free state/territory does not grant a slave freedom; and the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and was consequently repealed, allowing all territories to be open to slavery.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement
- North & South - The Official Magazine of the Civil War Society
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Swanberg, W.A., First Blood: The story of Fort Sumter p. 127. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1957