The pathway to the Civil War

  • Wilmot Proviso

    Wilmot Proviso
    During the Mexican-American war, the U.S. had to think about if slavery would be allowed in this new territory if they won. On behalf of the democrats, a congressman named David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso, which if passed would forbid slavery in the new territory. It did not end up passing despite the many attempts to get it passed. However, it did contribute to the increased tension between the north and south and heated up the debate about slavery. (Varon, 182)
  • The end of the Mexican War

    The end of the Mexican War
    The Mexican-American war ended with the treaty of Guadalupe- Hidalgo being signed in 1848. This treaty brought in more states and territories to the U.S. However, this new land sparked a fire as it had to be debated whether these new states would be brought in as free states or slave states. Northerners wanted them brought in as free states and the south wanted them brought in as slave states. This fight for power and control between the north and south lit a fire for the eventual civil war.
  • California Gold Rush

    California Gold Rush
    The California gold rush started with the finding of gold nuggets in the Sacramento valley. The prospect of wealth brought many people to California in 1849. With a boosting economy and population of California, both abolitionists and slave owners wanted control of California. In 1849, California requested to join the union but this was controversial as this would upset the number of slave states to free states. California was let in as a free state which created tension.
  • The Fugitive Slave Act

    The Fugitive Slave Act
    Congress in 1850 passed a revised fugitive slave act in 1850 after feeling increased pressure from politicians in the south. This new law tried to enforce citizens to help capture escaped slaves and also denied slaves the right to a jury trial. They also increased the consequences for anyone who tried to go against the fugitive slave act as they could be fined or be put in jail. However, it was just met with resistance from the north and increased their efforts to help runaway slaves in spite.
  • Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Uncle Tom's Cabin was published by Harriet Beecher Stowe and was written to open up people's eyes to the problems and inhumanities of slavery. This book became extremely popular, especially with northerners who were shocked and outraged by the pure cruelty of slavery described in the book. The south meanwhile was absolutely enraged by the book and claimed it was completely false and exaggerated. This book created even more heat around the topic of slavery and added to the division of the sides.
  • Bleeding Kansas

    Bleeding Kansas
    The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 called for popular sovereignty which give citizens of the territory the right to decide whether slavery should be allowed or not. This led to violent clashes between supporters and opposers of slavery for ten years in Kansas in a fight for control. These violent outbursts over the topic of slavery only increased tension and foreshadows the eventual civil war between the two sides.
  • Lecompton Constitution

    Lecompton Constitution
    States had to write up a constitution in order to enter the union. Kansas had drafted up two constitutions, one that had originally prohibited slavery but pro-slavery people of Kansas drafted their own constitution, the Lecompton that legalized slavery. It became the job of the federal government to choose which one and president Buchanan chose the Lecompton constitution. This was extremely controversial and caused a heated debate about slavery in the country. (Varon, 307-315)
  • Dred Scott decision

    Dred Scott decision
    Dredd Scott was a slave from Missouri but lived and worked as a slave for many years in the Wisconsin territory where slavery was prohibited. Dred Scott sued and claimed that because he was in the free land, he should be a free man. The supreme court however ruled against Scott and said that having lived in a free state did not entitle an enslaved person to his freedom. This outraged abolitionists and only increased their efforts to put an end to the institution of slavery.
  • Lincoln- Douglas debates

    Lincoln- Douglas debates
    Abraham Lincoln challenged Stephen Douglas to debates and Douglas agreed to seven debates. These debates were very intense as a majority of their debates were centered around the issue of slavery. The debates were highly publicized and many people came to watch. Lincoln lost the debates but it led to him becoming powerful and popular in the republican party because of the debates which led to his win in 1860 which ultimately made the south secede after he was elected. (McPherson, 182-187)
  • Marais Des Cygnes Massacre

    Marais Des Cygnes Massacre
    In the Marais des Cygnes massacre, a group of pro-slavery men captured eleven free-state men and brought them into a ravine, and opened fire on them. This violent attack killed 5 men, injured 5 and only one got away. This act of violence shocked the nation and angered northern abolitionists especially. This massacre was considered to be the last significant and violent attack of Bleeding Kansas that led up to the civil war.
  • The Secession of South Carolina

    The Secession of South Carolina
    South Carolina seceded from the union on December 20th, 1860 after the election of Abraham Lincoln. South Carolina, like many southern states, saw Lincoln's win as a threat to the institution of slavery. South Carolina seceding was a domino effect as other southern states followed behind it. The first shots of the civil war were also shot in South Carolina at fort Sumter. South Carolina led the southern secession which ultimately led to the Civil War. (McPherson, 234-235)