Events Leading Up to the Civil War

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    The Underground Railroad

    The Underground Railroad was a secret network of people, routes, and houses used to help runaway slaves reach freedom in the North or Canada. The Underground Railroad began helping slaves in the spring and summer months of 1787 (around March 21st,1787) and continued all the way up to the end Civil War when slavery had officially been abolished in all states on December 6, 1865. If a slave wanted a good chance to make it to freedom undercover they used the Underground Railroad.
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    The Underground Railroad (part 2)

    How did they keep this route a secret, though? By using specific codes and phrases, abolitionists could cover up almost any runaway slave from slave owners, police, and slave catchers so they could safely and quickly reach freedom. The codes and phrases were either railroad or Bible terms. The free blacks and whites that helped the runaways escape were called conductors. The runaways were called baggage or passengers.
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    The Underground Railroad (part 3)

    The safe house along the routes were called stations and the owners were stationmasters. The River Jordan was a river in which the Jews had to cross to get to the Promise Land in the Bible. The runaways had used their own River Jordan which was the Ohio River to get to their Promise Land, Canada.
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    The Underground Railroad (part 4)

    Some phrases were “A friend with friends” to alert a stationmasters that a conductor was coming with passengers and “the wind blows South today” was used to warn conductors that a slave catcher(s) was in the area. Along the way to freedom, slaves also used signs and landmarks to know they were following the right path.
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    The Underground Railroad (part 5)

    The Big Dipper and the North Star, called the drinking gourd, and moss on trees were used so the slaves knew they were travelling north (moss usually grew on the North side of dead trees). Many rivers and the Appalachian Mountains were followed North also. Slaves were running away from every part of the South constantly taking small groups or families with the help of conductors and abolitionists. They took many routes along mountains, swamps, rivers and even on ships going up the east coast.
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    The Underground Railroad (part 6)

    These fugitives all had different routes, helpers, and families. They all had one thing in common--their desire for freedom from slavery for good. The Underground Railroad was there best chance. Southerner slave owners were enraged that the their property was running away and that some Northerners were helping them. Tensions between the North and South intensified with many people choosing sides on slavery eventually leading to the Civil War.
  • The Missouri Compromise of 1820

    The Missouri Compromise of 1820
    The Missouri Compromise was a compromise written by Henry Clay that allowed Missouri to join the Union as a state. The South and those living in the the Missouri Territory wanted it to become a slave state. The northern states wanted it to become a free state that did not allow slaves and wanted all the slaves already in the territory to be freed at the age of 25. Missouri had to go through Congress and ask to become a slave state.
  • The Missouri Compromise of 1850 (part 2)

    The Missouri Compromise of 1850 (part 2)
    This made the South angry and they said that Congress had no right to set the conditions for becoming a state because none of the original 13 states had any conditions. The original 13 states just became states and chose what kind of state they were. The Missouri Compromise settled the issue. On March 3, 1820, Congress signed the Missouri Compromise into law.
  • The Missouri Compromise of 1820 (part 3)

    The Missouri Compromise of 1820 (part 3)
    The Missouri Compromise stated that Missouri would become a slave state, and to balance the slave and free states, Maine would also join the Union as a free state (this balanced the Senate because there were now 12 free and 12 slave states). The Compromise also said the Louisiana Territory would be split into two parts by the 36’30’ line (an imaginary latitude line that stretched across the bottom border of Missouri to the western border of the Louisiana purchase).
  • The Missouri Compromise of 1820 (part 4)

    The Missouri Compromise of 1820 (part 4)
    The northern part became a free territory and the southern part became a slave territory. Any states joining the Union that were originally in the Louisiana Territory would be slave or free depending on where they were located -- south or north of the 36’30’ line. The Missouri Compromise temporarily solved the slavery issue in America, but it would not last.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 3)

    Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 3)
    Slaves could not vote, read or write, own property, be on a jury, become a preacher, or meet in groups of 5 or more. These laws known as Black Codes would affect African-Americans all the way to the 1960s. Slaves began running away more often because of the Black Codes. Southerners were outraged when slaves were helped by Northern Abolitionists in escaping. They thought the North was against them and began becoming more separated.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 2)

    Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 2)
    Many of the rebels were captured and executed for the rebellion. Some slaves that were not even in the rebellion were put on trial. No slave was safe from being included as a rebel even if they had nothing to do with it. The rebellion scared many Southerners so they imposed more strict laws on slaves to ensure no more rebellions. If a slave even show signs of rebellion they would be whipped or killed. These laws affected the slaves to the civil war and even after they were freed.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 4)

    Nat Turner's Rebellion (part 4)
    Tensions rose and rose until the South seceded from the Union and started the Civil War.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion

    Nat Turner's Rebellion
    During a 48 hour period from August 22 to August 23, 1831, a slave named Nat Turner and a group of about 60 slaves killed 60 slave owners and their families throughout Virginia. Nat Turner was a ‘preacher’ who was finished with the unfair treatment he was receiving as a slave. He gathered up other slaves from his plantation owned by Joseph Travis. The group killed the entire Travis family and then moved on to reign terror on other plantations.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 6)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 6)
    The act made it so no black man in the North was safe. Even if they were a free black they had no way to prove in court that they were free unless a white man spoke on their behalf. The trials to prove whether they were slave or free were unfair. A single commissioner decided whether they were a runaway or not. If he said the black was free he was paid $5, but if he sent them away to the South he was paid $10.
  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    During the California Gold Rush in the late 1840s, settlers flowed into the California territory to cure their “Gold Fever”. California's population began to rise and soon they had enough residents to become a state. They set up a government and began putting the pieces into place in becoming a state. Tension rose though when California wanted to become a free state. Most of the residents were prospectors and did not want there to be a chance of slaves stealing their gold.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 2)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 2)
    Southerners were angered by this because California was mostly in the South. California was under the 36’30’ established by the Missouri Compromise, but it was not part of the Louisiana Territory so the line did not pertain to it. The Southerners did not care that California was not in the Louisiana Territory. They still believed it should be a slave state.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 3)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 3)
    Zachary Taylor began working with California during his Presidency to figure out a way that both the South and North would be happy and California could choose what state it would want to be. Sadly, Taylor fell very ill and died and was never able to complete his work. That is when Henry Clay (the same person who wrote the Missouri Compromise) stepped in.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 4)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 4)
    He and three others from Congress (Stephen Douglass, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun) proposed a compromise that would make both the South and the North happy. On September 18, 1850 President Millard Fillmore signed this new compromise, called Compromise of 1850, and all its parts into law. The compromise had four parts. First, it gave California free statehood. Second, the compromise made it so there would be no more slave trade in Washington D.C.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 5)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 5)
    Thirdly, it allowed citizens in the New Mexico and the Utah territories to choose whether or not they would allow slavery. The fourth part of the compromise was the Fugitive Slave Act. This act stated that all runaway slaves in the North were to be returned to the South. If a person helped a runaway or kept them secret he or she could either be arrested or fined a large sum of money.
  • Compromise of 1850 (part 7)

    Compromise of 1850 (part 7)
    More and more slaves fled to Canada and the Abolitionist Movement and Underground Railroad grew stronger and bigger. The South made more and more money from all the new and returning slaves they gained. The North was angered by all the free blacks that were being taken from the North. They made many arguments with the South over slavery and the two sides became more and more separate eventually leading to Civil War.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Harriet Beecher Stowe
    Harriet Beecher Stowe was taught to dislike slavery from a young age. Both her parents were strong abolitionists. In her 20s, Harriet moved with her family to live near the border of slave state Kentucky and free state Ohio in Cincinnati, Ohio. When visiting plantations in Kentucky she witnessed many slaves perform their grueling backbreaking work. She hated how the slaves were treated by their owners. While in Cincinnati, Harriet’s family met with John Rankin’s family on a regular basis.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 2)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 2)
    The Rankin’s were conductors on the Underground Railroad and had many stories of assisting slaves to freedom. These stories and what Harriet saw on the plantation inspired her to write a novel centered around slavery. She wrote her famous anti-slavery book Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 and it was published on April 1,1852. The book changed America’s look on slavery forever. The book depicted what slaves went through on plantations and their struggles to gain freedom.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 3)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 3)
    Northerners had never really thought about slavery being wrong until they read Uncle Tom's Cabin. The North became furious that slaves were being treated this harshly. The South tried to cover the book and what it said about slavery, but once word of the book got out to the public it became a bestseller. Many Northerners became strong abolitionists and wanted to rid America of slavery for good.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 4)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe (part 4)
    Tensions over slavery grew stronger every day eventually leading up to the Civil War. Many believe Uncle Tom’s Cabin is one of the most influential writings causing the Civil War. Even Abraham Lincoln once said to Harriet when she met him, “So you're the little lady that started this war”.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 2)

    Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 2)
    Douglass wanted the territories to become states, but Douglass also wanted to become the next President though. If Kansas and Nebraska were to become states they would both become free states being that their location was above the 36’30’ line established by the Missouri Compromise. Douglass needed to have both the North and the South be on his side if were to have a chance at becoming President. So he proposed a small bill called the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act

    Kansas-Nebraska Act
    In the 1800s, the Transcontinental Railroad began spreading across the United States and Stephen Douglass, a Senator of Illinois, wanted Chicago to be a railroad hub. He knew that the railroad would tremendously help Illinois’ economy. The only way that the railroad could go through Chicago to the west was if it could go through the Kansas and Nebraska territories. These territories had to be states if a railroad was to be built in them.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 3)

    Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 3)
    The bill stated that the states of Kansas and Nebraska would not become states by their location, but by popular sovereignty. Popular sovereignty meant that the type of state would chosen by what the population of the state was more of. If slavery was more popular and there were more slave owners/pro-slavery men in the territory then it would become a slave state. If slavery was not more popular and there were more anti-slavery men then it would become a free state.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 4)

    Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 4)
    Douglass thought that both sides would be happy with the bill. The territories would probably still become free states because of the little agriculture available in those territories. This would keep the North happy. The South would be happy because they would have at least a chance in the territories becoming states. Before they had no chance to have slavery in Kansas and Nebraska. On May 30, 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law when it was signed in by President Franklin Pierce.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 5)

    Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 5)
    The South loved the Act because they could have slavery father Northwest if the states became slave. The North was enraged. Abolitionists from the start knew that it would not end well if the Slave Power were allowed in Kansas. Soon settlers from New England called free-soilers (believed that all of America should be all free soil, free of slavery) flooded into the territories to try to sway the balance toward the anti-slavery side.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 6)

    Kansas-Nebraska Act (part 6)
    Immigrants from the southern state of Missouri moved into to illegally vote trying to sway the balance to the pro-slavery side. Soon tensions rose between these two groups which led to the fights in the summer of Bleeding Kansas. Because of the fighting a railroad being built through Kansas was even an option. Instead of helping Illinois(the railroad was never built through there) Douglass pushed the North and South farther apart leading to the Civil War. Douglass never became President either.
  • Bleeding Kansas

    Bleeding Kansas
    After the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed in 1854 free soilers from New England and southerners from Missouri moved into the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to begin trying to sway the balance of either pro- or anti-slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act had already determined that the territories would become slave or free states based on popular sovereignty, or which kind of state was more favored by the population. Tensions began to brew in the territories and the outcome would not be good.
  • Bleeding Kansas (part 2)

    Bleeding Kansas (part 2)
    The first major act of violence was on May 21, 1856 when pro-slavery men looted and burned down two anti-slavery newspaper printing presses in Lawrence County, Kansas. A strong abolitionist by the name of John Brown retaliated the looting when he and his sons killed 5 pro-slavery men with swords in front of their families near Pottawatomie Creek also in Kansas.
  • Bleeding Kansas (part 3)

    Bleeding Kansas (part 3)
    Throughout that summer bloody fights broke out across Kansas with the death toll reaching about 200 giving the event it’s name, “The Summer of Bleeding Kansas”. It would foreshadow the even bigger fight between North and South known as the Civil War.
  • The Dred Scott Case (part 2)

    The Dred Scott Case (part 2)
    Scott had to go through over 11 years of appeals against the Supreme Court for them to rule against him. They said the he had no legal standing in court therefore he could not sue. This was because he was not considered a US citizen. On March 6, 1857 the Supreme Court decide that any person that was free or enslaved and was of African descent could never be a US citizen.
  • The Dred Scott Case (part 4)

    The Dred Scott Case (part 4)
    The South and the North grew further apart in their opinions on slavery eventually leading to the South’s secession and the Civil War. Scott was still a slave until Blow’s son bought he and his wife’s freedom. Sadly, Dred Scott died only 9 months later and his time of freedom was short lived.
  • The Dred Scott Case

    The Dred Scott Case
    Dred Scott was a slave who lived on a plantation in Missouri. During his slave life he travel and lived with his owner Peter Blow in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin for a very long time, then returned to Missouri. Scott believed that he deserved to be a free man because he had lived on free ground. In 1846, he appealed and sued the United States Supreme Court for his freedom.
  • The Dred Scott Case (part 3)

    The Dred Scott Case (part 3)
    To make matters worse for slaves, they also said that the government could not limit the spread of slavery to US territories and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that established the 36’30’ line was unconstitutional. Southerners were happy about that Court’s decision, but the North was not. They were very angered by the decision and many voted for Abraham Lincoln to be the Republican nominee for President because he spoke against Court’s ruling.
  • The Attack on Harper's Ferry

    The Attack on Harper's Ferry
    On October 16, 1859 abolitionist John Brown, the same man who led the attacks near Pottawatomie Creek in the “Summer of Bleeding Kansas”, led an attack on the military arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia with the help of his sons and a group of almost twenty whites and blacks. He thought the slaves in the town would also rise up with him and using the weapons of the arsenal they would be able to destroy all slavery in the South for good.
  • The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 2)

    The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 2)
    His men were able to destroy or take most of the arsenal before the townspeople rose up. The fight raged until federal troops arrived led Robert E. Lee, the future Confederate General. Brown’s men took hostages, but were cornered and outnumbered. None of the slaves in the town rose up or helped Brown. His attack failed. Both of Brown’s sons were killed in the fight along with almost all of his men.
  • The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 3)

    The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 3)
    Brown and the few men left were captured and handed off to Virginia’s authorities where they were tried for treason. Brown was hanged for his crimes. In a last letter, Brown wrote that slavery would only be settled by bloodshed. At his hanging John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s future killer, and Thomas J. Jackson, the future Confederate officer known then as “Stonewall” Jackson, were present.
  • The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 4)

    The Attack on Harper's Ferry (part 4)
    After the attack, southern militias, which had once been very weak, became stronger and stronger to combat further attacks of terror and would later become the Confederate Army. Abolitionists either praised or criticized the attack. Abraham Lincoln was completely against the attack. Southerners became more and more afraid of attacks and uprisings and began to blame the North. The South quickly broke apart leaving the country in ruins leading to the Civil War.
  • Election of 1860

    Election of 1860
    The Election of 1860 was a pivotal point in American History. It would decided which President would be the next to try to bring the breaking country back together. The four candidates were Abraham Lincoln of the Republican Party, John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party, and Stephen Douglass and John Breckinridge both of the Democratic Party. Lincoln believed slavery was morally wrong but was economically good for the country and he would allow it to stay.
  • Election of 1860 (part 2)

    Election of 1860 (part 2)
    He did not want it to expand though. Breckinridge was for the expansion of slavery. Douglass believed blacks to be below whites and tolerated slavery. Bell was a moderate slave holder and had no intention to get rid of slavery or keep it from expanding. Not of them had any intentions at all at getting rid of slavery. There were 303 electoral votes total in United states at the time. To win the majority of the electoral votes a candidate would need 152 or more votes.
  • Election of 1860 (part 3)

    Election of 1860 (part 3)
    Douglass received 12 votes by getting the state of Missouri along with the southern part of New Jersey. Bell received 39 votes from the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. Breckenridge was able to get the rest of the South including Delaware and Maryland receiving 72 votes. Lincoln crushed the competition by getting 180 electoral votes from the entire North along with California and Oregon.
  • Election of 1860 (part 4)

    Election of 1860 (part 4)
    Lincoln was elected President on November 6,1860 without receiving one single Southern electoral vote. The South was outraged and believed they would never have any say in any political debates with the overpowering North. South Carolina seceded or separated from the Union first with other states following.
  • Election of 1860 (part 5)

    Election of 1860 (part 5)
    The South became the Confederate States of America with Richmond, Virginia being its capital and Jefferson Davis being its President. On April 12, 1860 Fort Sumter in South Carolina was attacked by Confederate troops. It was the start of the Civil War.