Growing abolitionist sentiment in the
Failure of compromise
Fugitive Slave Act complicates
enforcement across the country
Kansas-Nebraska border feud illustrates
the growing trend toward violence.
Major compromises over slavery:
• Missouri Compromise of 1820:
Missouri asks to be allowed in to the Union – Whigs
oppose, Southern Democrats support.
Maine allowed in as a result – 1 free, 1 slave state enter
the Union simultaneously.
Slavery banned north of 36’ 30 line.
Compromise of 1850:
• Stronger Fugitive Slave Act
• South denies the Wilmot Proviso which would have
banned slavery in territories acquired from the
• California enters as a free state
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 stated
that any escaped slaves had to be
returned to their owners in the South, or
those complicit could face a fine.
• Violates the rights of freed blacks
• Stokes fears of Slave Power in the North
• Further ignites abolitionist sentiment
Repeals 36’ 30 line of Missouri Compromise
Act intends to create states of Kansas and
Nebraska to allow for transcontinental
Slavery would be settled by popular
• The decision to be a slave or free state would be left to
the residents of the state.
• All males eligible to vote could vote pro- or anti-slavery
• Leads to Bleeding Kansas
Unofficial start of the Civil War?
Pro- and anti-slavery forces battle in
Kansas. Lawrence under siege by anti-
John Brown and a group of abolitionists
raid a pro-slavery event. Hack five men to
death with swords on May 24, 1855.
Potttawatommie Creek Massacre.
Republican party forms in aftermath of
Bleeding Kansas – party of anti-slavery.
Republican Party will forward Abraham
Lincoln as a candidate for president in
The Democratic Party splits in to Southern
Democrats and Northern Democrats.
SD’s want federal protection of slavery;
ND’s favor popular sovereignty.
1857: Supreme Court holds that African
Americans (enslaved or free) could not be
American citizens, and therefore had no
standing in court.
• Additionally, federal gov’t has no power to regulate
slavery in federal territories.
• Republicans outraged. Further fuels sectionalism.
• Today: “Unquestionably, our worst decision ever.”
. . . Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this
country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political
community formed and brought into existence by the
Constitution of the United States, and as such become entitled
to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities, guarantied by
that instrument to the citizen? One of which rights is the
privilege of suing in a court of the United States in the cases
specified in the Constitution.
We think they [people of African ancestry] are not [citizens],
and that they are not included, and were not intended to be
included, under the word "citizens" in the Constitution, and can
therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that
instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United
“The next question propounded to me by Mr.
Lincoln is, Can the people of a Territory in any
lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen
of the United States, exclude slavery from
their limits prior to the formation of a State
constitution? I answer emphatically, as Mr.
Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred
times from every stump in Illinois, that in my
opinion the people of a Territory can, by lawful
means, exclude slavery from their limits prior
to the formation of a State constitution.”
Four candidates –
• Abraham Lincoln: Republican, anti-slavery.
• John Bell: Constitutional unionist, concerned with
upholding the Constitution and protecting slavery.
• Stephen Douglas: Northern Democrat. Favors
popular sovereignty in order to settle slavery.
• John Breckinridge: Southern Democrat from
Kentucky. The gov’t must protect slavery.
Lincoln wins the election with only 40% of
the vote – despite not winning a single
vote in the Southern states.
Within a month, South Carolina secedes
from the Union.
“We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in
convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is
hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance
adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of
May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven
hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of
the United States of America was ratified, and also all
acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this
State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are
hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting
between South Carolina and other States, under the
name of the "United States of America," is hereby
What were the major political moments
prior to secession of the South?