The Causes of the Civil War us history/Napp Name: Do Now

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The Causes of the Civil War

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The Causes of the Civil War

  1. Sectionalism [the greater loyalty many Americans felt towards their section than towards the country as a whole]:

  1. In the early 19th century, as the United States expanded economically, each section in the country developed its own characteristics.

  1. The Northeast became a center of manufacturing, shipping, fishing, and small farms.

  2. The South’s dominant institution was slavery and much of the region’s economy was based on profits from the use of slave labor on large plantations, which grew crops such as cotton.

  3. The Northwest became the nation’s breadbasket.

  1. Slavery:

  1. The most explosive issue facing the nation was the question of slavery.

  1. Abolitionists were reformers who wanted to end slavery.

  1. The Issue of Slavery in the New Territories:

  1. In the 1840s, the U.S. won control of new territories in Oregon and Mexico.

  1. These acquisitions posed the problem of whether slavery should be permitted there.

  1. Southerners felt that only by extending slavery westward could they preserve the balance between slave and free states in Congress.

  2. Northerners opposed its spread.

  3. Congress preserved national unity by admitting new states in a series of compromises.

  1. The Missouri Compromise of 1820: Missouri was admitted as a slave state and Maine was admitted as a free state. Congress also decided to prohibit slavery in the lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36°30’ latitude line.

  2. Compromise of 1850: California was admitted as a free state. In return, a Fugitive Slave Law required northern states to help return runaway slaves. The system of popular sovereignty was applied to other territories taken from Mexico.

  1. The Breakdown of Compromise:

  1. In the 1850s, the breakdown of these compromises made conflict between the North and South almost inevitable.

  1. Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854: Congress repealed the Missouri Compromise by introducing popular sovereignty in the Kansas and Nebraska Territories where slavery had earlier been prohibited. In Kansas, pro-and anti-slavery forces tried to assure the outcome by bringing in their own supporters. Bloodshed on both sides followed, and federal troops were required to restore order.

  2. Dred Scott Decision, 1857: The Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not prohibit slavery in any U.S. territory. The Court ruled that a slave was property and had no rights and stated that the prohibition of slavery in the Missouri Compromise had been unconstitutional, since slaves were property and Congress did not have the right to take away property.

  3. John Brown’s Raid (1859): John Brown, a Northern abolitionist, sought to start a slave rebellion to free the slaves. Brown captured a federal arsenal in Virginia, but his tiny force was soon captured. Brown was hanged, but his attempt to stir the slaves created alarm and fear among Southerners.

  1. States’ Rights:

  1. Southerners believed in states’ rights, pointing out that the states had created the federal government as a compact, and that each state thus had the power to leave the Union if it desired.

  1. Northerners argued that the Constitution was the work of the American people, and that individual states could not leave the Union when they pleased.

  1. The Election of Lincoln:

  1. The Republican Party was formed in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery to new territories.

  1. When Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, most Southern states seceded (withdrew) from the United States.

  2. The seceding states formed the Confederate states of America.

  3. Lincoln refused to recognize the secession and resolved to preserve the unity of the United States.

~ The Key to Understanding U.S. History and Government


  1. Define sectionalism. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. How did different regions in the United States develop differently? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. What was the most explosive issue facing the United States prior to the start of the Civil War? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. Why was this issue the most explosive issue prior to the start of the Civil War? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. Why did Southerners want to expand slavery westward? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  6. What was the Missouri Compromise? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  7. Why did abolitionists dislike the Fugitive Slave Law? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  8. How did the Kansas-Nebraska Act differ from the Missouri Compromise? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  9. What decisions about slavery did the Supreme Court make during the Dred Scott trial? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  10. How did Southerners react to John Brown’s raid? Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  11. How and why did Southerners and Northerners view the Constitution differently? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  12. Why was the Republican Party formed? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  13. Why did the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency lead to many Southern states seceding from the union? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  14. What did the seceding states form? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  15. What did Lincoln vow to preserve? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Which argument did President Abraham Lincoln use against the secession of the Southern States?

  1. Slavery was not profitable

  2. The government was a union of people and not of states.

  3. The Southern States did not permit their people to vote on secession.

  4. As the Commander in Chief, he had the duty to defend the United States against foreign invasion.

  1. Which statement best explains President Abraham Lincoln’s justification for the Civil War?

  1. As an abolitionist, President Lincoln wanted to end slavery in the United States.

  2. President Lincoln wanted to keep the South economically dependent on the industrial North.

  3. President Lincoln’s oath of office required him to defend and preserve the Union.

  4. To keep the support of Great Britain and France, President Lincoln had to try to end slavery immediately.

  1. Sectional differences developed in the United States largely because

  1. the Federal Government adopted a policy of neutrality

  2. economic conditions and interests in each region varied

  3. only northerners were represented at the Constitutional Convention

  4. early Presidents favored urban areas over rural areas

  1. By the 1850’s, the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord.”

    This quotation suggests that

  1. vast differences of opinion existed over the issue of States rights

  2. the Federal Government had become more interested in foreign affairs than in domestic problems

  3. the Constitution had no provisions for governing new territories

  4. the Southern States continued to import slaves

  1. Early in his Presidency, Abraham Lincoln declared that his primary goal as President was to

  1. enforce the Emancipation Proclamation

  2. preserve the Union

  3. end slavery throughout the entire country

  4. encourage sectionalism

  1. Which phrase best completes the title for the partial outline shown below?

I. Reasons for the ______________________

A. Increasing sectionalism

B. Disagreements over states’ rights issues

C. Breakdown of compromise D. Election of 1860

  1. Start of the Revolutionary War

  2. Adoption of the Bill of Rights

  3. Failure of the Whiskey Rebellion

  4. Secession of Southern States from the Union

The Power of the Printed Word to Change History:

Spotlight: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
“‘So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.’
This was Abraham Lincoln’s reported greeting to Harriet Beecher Stowe when he met her ten years after her book Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. Although the President may have been exaggerating a bit, few novels in American history have grabbed the public spotlight and caused as great an uproar as Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Across the north, readers became acutely aware of the horrors of slavery on a far more personal level than ever before. In the south the book was met with outrage and branded an irresponsible book of distortions and overstatements. In such an explosive environment, her story greatly furthered the Abolitionist cause north of the Mason-Dixon Line and promoted sheer indignation in plantation America.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born into a prominent family of preachers. Her father, Lyman Beecher, was one of the most renowned ministers in his generation. Her brother Henry Ward Beecher was already an outspoken Abolitionist, and by the mid 1850s would become the driving force behind aiding the Free-Soil cause in ‘bleeding Kansas’ (not permitting slavery in the new territory). While living for a short while in Cincinnati, Stowe became exposed to actual runaway slaves. Her heart ached at the wretched tales she heard. She began to write a series of short stories depicting the plight of plantation slaves.

Encouraged by her sister-in-law, Stowe decided to pen a novel. First published as a series in 1851, it first appeared as a book the following year. The heart-wrenching tale portrays slave families forced to cope with separation by masters through sale. Uncle Tom mourns for the family he was forced to leave. In one heroic scene, Eliza makes a daring dash across the frozen Ohio River to prevent the sale of her son by slave traders. The novel also takes the perspective that slavery brings out the worst in the white masters, leading them to perpetrate moral atrocities they would otherwise never commit.

[Harriet Beecher Stowe lost a child in infancy; an experience that she said made her empathize with the losses suffered by slave mothers whose children were sold.]

The reaction was incredible. Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the North alone.
The Fugitive Slave Law, passed in 1850, could hardly be enforced by any of Stowe’s readers. Although banned in most of the south, it served as another log on the growing fire.

The book sold even more copies in Great Britain than in the United States. This had an immeasurable appeal in swaying British public opinion. Many members of the British Parliament relished the idea of a divided United States. Ten years after the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the British people made it difficult for its government to support the Confederacy, even though there were strong economic ties to the South. In the end, Mr. Lincoln may not have been stretching the truth after all.”



  1. What did Abraham Lincoln reportedly say when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe? ________________________________________________________________________

  2. How did Southerners view Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. How did Northerners react to Ms. Stowe’s novel? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. Identify significant facts about Harriet Beecher Stowe’s family: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. What is the focus of Ms. Stowe’s novel? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  6. What conclusions does the reader gain from Ms. Stowe’s novel? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  7. What event in Ms. Stowe’s life made her empathize with individuals who experienced suffering? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  8. What impact did Uncle Tom’s Cabin have on British readers and how did this impact the Civil War? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  9. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin aroused northern outrage over the implications of the

  1. Kansas-Nebraska Act

  2. Lecompton Constitution

  3. Missouri Compromise

  4. Fugitive Slave Act

  5. Dred Scott decision

What is the Mason-Dixon Line? (~

Most Americans know the Mason-Dixon Line as the divider between North and South; freedom and slavery. But the line’s origins have nothing to do with slavery and actually predate the United States. The line is, in fact, the result of a bloody land dispute between proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland when the country was just a collection of British colonies…Mason was an astronomer employed by The Royal Society in Greenwich, England. He spent his time observing the stars and the moon, and establishing lunar tables that could be used to determine longitude. Dixon was a surveyor from Cockfield in Durham County in England, and was educated by John Bird, a renowned maker of high precision astronomical instruments. In 1763, Mason and Dixon landed the monumental task of resolving an 80-year property dispute between the Calvert family of Maryland and Penn family of Pennsylvania, and were asked to lay stone markers indicating the boundary.”

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