Causes of Civil War

Timeline created by Eugene Kim
  • The Missouri Compromise

    In the growth years following the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, Congress was compelled to establish a policy to guide the expansion of slavery into the new western territory. Ultimately, Congress reached a series of agreements that became known as the Missouri Compromise. Missouri was admitted as a slave state and Maine was admitted as a free state, preserving the Congressional balance.
  • Nat Turner’s Rebellion

    In August of 1831, a slave named Nat Turner incited an uprising that spread through several plantations in southern Virginia. Fifty-five slaves, including Turner, were tried and executed for their role in the insurrection. Nat Turner’s rebellion was the bloodiest. Virginia lawmakers reacted to the crisis by rolling back what few civil rights. Education was prohibited and the right to assemble was severely limited.
  • The Wilmot Proviso

    The Wilmot Proviso was a piece of legislation proposed by David Wilmot at the close of the Mexican-American War. If passed, the Proviso would have outlawed slavery in territory acquired by the United States as a result of the war, which included most of the Southwest and extended all the way to California. He offered it as a rider on existing bills, introduced it to Congress on its own, and even tried to attach it to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. All attempts failed.
  • The Compromise of 1850

    With national relations soured by the debate over the Wilmot Proviso, senators Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas managed to broker a shaky accord with the Compromise of 1850. The compromise admitted California as a free state and did not regulate slavery in the remainder of the Mexican cession all. The new Fugitive Slave Act, by forcing non-slaveholders to participate in the institution, also led to increased polarization among centrist citizens.
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fictional exploration of slave life was a cultural sensation. Northerners felt as if their eyes had been opened to the horrors of slavery, while Southerners protested that Stowe’s work was slanderous. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the second-best-selling book in America in the 19th century, second only to the Bible. Its popularity brought the issue of slavery to life for those few who remained unmoved after decades of legislative conflict.
  • Bleeding Kansas

    The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 established Kansas and Nebraska as territories and set the stage for “Bleeding Kansas” by its adoption of popular sovereignty. Under popular sovereignty, it is the residents of the territories who decide by popular referendum if the state is to be a free or enslaved. The violence subsided in 1859, the warring parties forged a fragile peace, but not before more than 50 settlers had been killed.
  • Dred Scott v. Sanford

    Dred Scott was a Virginia slave who tried to sue for his freedom in court. The case eventually rose to the level of the Supreme Court, where the justices found that, as a slave, Dred Scott was a piece of property that had none of the legal rights or recognitions afforded to a human being. He wanted to win the case but he couldn't because he was a slave.
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    In 1858, Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas faced a challenge for his seat from a relatively unknown one term former congressmen and “prairie lawyer” Abraham Lincoln. Douglas won the senate race, these debates propelled Lincoln to the national spotlight and enabled his nomination for president in 1860. In contrast, these debates further alienated Douglas from the southern wing of the Democratic Party and the arguments Douglas made in these debates come back to haunt him in 1860
  • John Brown’s Raid

    Abolitionist John Brown supported violent action against the South to end slavery and played a major role in starting the Civil War.In October 1859, he and 19 supporters, armed with “Beecher’s Bibles,” led a raid on the federal armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in an effort to capture and confiscate the arms located there, distribute them among local slaves and begin armed insurrection. Brown was tried for treason against the state of Virginia, convicted and hanged in Charles Town.k
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Election

    Abraham Lincoln was elected by a considerable margin in 1860 despite not being included on many Southern ballots. As a Republican, his party’s anti-slavery outlook struck fear into many Southerners. On December 20, 1860, a little over a month after the polls closed, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Six more states followed by the spring of 1861. He became a US president.
  • Southern Secession

    Secession, as it applies to the outbreak of the American Civil War, comprises the series of events that began on December 20, 1860, and extended through June 8 of the next year when eleven states in the Lower and Upper South severed their ties with the Union.
  • The Battle of Fort Sumter

    With secession, several federal forts, including Fort Sumter in South Carolina, suddenly became outposts in a foreign land. Abraham Lincoln made the decision to send fresh supplies to the beleaguered garrisons. They were fighting with the supplies. The Civil War was now underway. On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to join the Northern army. Unwilling to contribute troops, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee dissolved their ties to the federal government.