Events Leading to the Civil War

  • The Missouri Compromise

    The Missouri Compromise
    The Missouri Compromise divided the territory of the Louisiana Purchase at the 36/30 line. All territory north of this line would be free from slaves, and all territory south of this line would allow slavery. The Tallmadge Ammendment was proposed to this compromise which stated slavery could not be further introduced in Missouri and that slaves in Missouri would eventually be emancipated. This created controversy between the North and South and showed the beginning of sectionalism.
  • The War with Mexico

    The War with Mexico
    At the end of the Mexican War in 1848, President Polk signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which gave the U.S. territory previously disputed with Mexico. This territory was below the 36/30, and, therefore, became slave territory according the Missouri Compromise. This occurence confirmed the Northerners' thought that the war was an attempt of the South to get more slave territory.
  • The Wilmot Proviso

    The Wilmot Proviso
    Congressman David Wilmot proposed a law that would ban slavery in all territory gained from the Mexican War. This law did not pass the Senate where the South had equal representation with the North which caused damage to North/South relations.
  • The Fugitive Slave Act

    The Fugitive Slave Act
    The Fugitive Slave Act was part of the Compromise of 1850 and encouraged people to catch run-away slaves in the North by punsihing those who did not catch run-aways and offering special commissioners more money to send run-aways back to the South than to declare them free. This upset abolitionists and freed slaves. The result of this act was the formation of the Underground Railroad.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe shocked Northerners over its depiction on how terrible slavery was. Southerners became angry because of this book and claimed it was an unfair depiction of slavery.
  • Formation of the Republican Party

    Formation of the Republican Party
    The Republican party formed from old members of the Free Soil Party and others against the expansion of slavery. Southerners, considering themselves enemies of the Republicans, saw this as a declaration of war.
  • Two-Party System

    Two-Party System
    After the formation of the Republican party, Democrats focused more on the interests of the South. Norhterners and Southerners became radical over the slavery issue. This two-party system represented an end to North and South cooperation.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act

    Kansas-Nebraska Act
    THe Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise's prohibition of slavery past the 36/30 line in the territory from the Louisiana Purchase. This caused controversy in both the Whig and Democratic parties. Those against the act eventually helped form the Republican party.
  • Bleeding Kansas

    Bleeding Kansas
    Border Ruffians (pro-salvery Missourians) crossed the border to Kansas in order to intimidate voters that were for a free state. In response, abolitionists brought rifles and violence broke out. This showed that compromise was no longer possible and demonstrated the violence surrounding the issue of slavery.
  • Preston Brooks vs. Charles Sumner

    Preston Brooks vs. Charles Sumner
    After delivering a speech against the institution of slavery, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was beaten by Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina with a cane. This event demonstrated that even the most civilized of the United States were becoming violent over the issue of slavery.
  • Dred Scott Case

    Dred Scott Case
    The Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that slavery could not be restricted by Congress in territories which nullified the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas/Nebraska Act. This caused northerners who thought highly of the MIssouri Compromise to flock to the Republican party.
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    Lincoln-Douglas Debates
    Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated in the 1858 election. Lincoln believed the U.S. could not continue to be divided over the issue of slavery while Douglas believed in popular sovereignty. The South saw Lincoln's viewpoint as a threat while the North connected with it.
  • John Brown's Raid

    John Brown's Raid
    John Brown attempted but failed to start a slave revolt in Harper's Ferry, VA. This caused southerners to believe that the North would supply slaves weapons, and that it was no longer possible for them to stay in the Union and still maintain the safety of Southerners.
  • 1860 Presidential Election

    1860 Presidential Election
    The 1860 election was basically an election over slavery with candidates Lincoln and Breckinridge. Lincoln won which indicated to Southerners that it was no longer possible to stay in the Union and continue their way of life with slavery.
  • The Crittenden Compromise

    The Crittenden Compromise
    The Crittenden Compromise was an attempt to save the Union by extending the 36/30 line of the Missouri Compromise throughtout the U.S. Although accepted by the South, Northerners rejected the compromise because it expanded slavery.
  • Battle of Fort Sumter

    Battle of Fort Sumter
    When many southern states seceded from the Union, most federal possessions were handed over to the state governments peacefully. However, Fort Sumter was not. Southern forces attacked the fort to keep it from being resupplied which signaled the final straw for civil war.