Unit seven slavery and Emancipation "this nation shall have a new birth of freedom."

Download 133.45 Kb.
Size133.45 Kb.

Slavery and Emancipation

"this nation ... shall have a new birth of freedom."

from the Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln

See pages 484-485.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote and spoke these words during the Civil War. In this war thousands of lives were lost and deep wounds,''' were felt across the country. Still, Lincoln believed that the war had a purpose—the preservation of the United States.

In keeping the country together, new promises had to be made and old ones had to be renewed. For enslaved African Americans the promises meant the end of slavery. For American women the struggle to win the right to vote was only beginning. Still, with the end of the Civil War, the chance for "a new birth of freedom" was possible for more Americans than ever before.


On a Great Battlefield

The last bullets flew over Gettysburg. more than a hundred years ago. Yet the hills are alive with the sounds of history. Civil War buffs in Union blue and Confederate gray still come to recreate this crucial three-day battle. And more than a million other visitors walk over the green fields each year. They struggle to grasp that some 50,000 Union and Confederate soldiers perished here. A few visitors stop at the nearby house where a wax figure of President Abraham Lincoln sits as if deep in thought. Here, four months after the battle, Lincoln Polished the brief speech he would give at a ceremony the next day. His Gettysburg Address called for "a new birth of freedom” for all Americans.


Imagine you're walking through Gettysburg today. What are your thoughts about what happened here?



The Time of Slavery


By the middle of the 1800s, the land of the United States had nearly reached its present size. Yet this growing country became increasingly divided on one issue—slavery. Eventually, this and other conflicts between the North and the South would cause the Southern states to form their own country. The time line below features some of the people and events of this period.




Focus Activity


What were the major differences between the North and the South in the 1850s?


Nat Turner

Frederick Douglass





Frederick Douglass's childhood was similar to that of many enslaved African American children. Soon after his birth in about 1817, his mother was sent to another plantation. At times she slipped away at night to visit her young son. If caught, she would have been beaten severely. "I do not recall ever seeing my mother by the light of day," Douglass once said. He saw her only four or five times before she died when he was 7 years old.


By the 1850s the question of slavery deeply divided the United States. Slavery, however, was part of a larger issue—the economy. The South had an economy based largely on agriculture. Large plantations using slave labor grew most of the crops sold in the South.

Although most people in both the North and the South were farmers, manufacturing was becoming much more important in the North. The work in the Northern factories was done largely by immigrants. In 1854 the number of immigrants who came to the United States reached a high of over 400,000. The largest number came from Ireland and Germany. These people were fleeing political and economic problems in their homelands. Most immigrants settled in the large cities of the North, where jobs were plentiful.

By 1850 these differences had created two distinct ways of life in the United States—one Northern and one Southern.



The two circle two circle graphs on this page show the different groups that made up the populations of the North and the South in 1860. Differences in the way people in these regions lived and worked affected their views on slavery.

Two Points of View About Slavery

Although some immigrants had enough money to buy land, most found work in the shops and factories in the North. Working conditions were often unhealthy and unsafe. Workdays were long, and wages were low. In many families even the children had to work.

Most Southerners owned small farms but did not own slaves. Still, it was cotton, grown on large plantations, that produced most of the South's wealth. In 1860 about four million enslaved African Americans did the backbreaking work of picking and cleaning cotton. By then the South produced about two-thirds of the world's supply of this valuable crop. "Cotton is king," went the old saying.

The population differences between the North and the South led to differing views on what slavery was like. Supporters of slavery pointed out that cotton made up about half of all goods exported from the United States. Some also argued that enslaved people in the South were better off than immigrants and other workers in the North. In 1857 George Fitzhugh, a Virginia lawyer, compared slavery with working for pay:

The [N]egro slaves are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world. . . . [They] have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. . . . The free laborer must work or starve. He is more of a slave than the [N]egro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance [reward] than the slave, and has no holiday.

Many people, however, saw slavery as an unjust and terrible cruelty. In 1842 J. S. Buckingham wrote about the enslaved people he saw on a rice plantation in Georgia:

Absence from work, or neglect of duty, was punished with stinted [reduced] allowance [of food], imprisonment and flogging [beating]. . . . Their lot was one of continued toil, from morning to night, uncheered even by the hope of change, or prospect of improvement in condition.


The Maryland slave quarters in which Frederick Douglass was raised were similar to these at Carter's Grow plantation in Virginia.


In 1808 Congress made importing slaves from Africa illegal. Still the number of slaves in the United States grew. Slaves continued to be brought into the country illegally. Others were born into slavery because their parents were enslaved. In states such as South Carolina, enslaved people made up more than half of the population by 1860.

Nat Turner's Rebellion

As the enslaved African American population grew, so did the number of slave rebellions. One of the most serious revolts was led by Nat Turner. On August 21, 1831, Turner's small band of enslaved people struck in Southampton County, Virginia. For two days they went from farm to farm and killed nearly 60 men, women, and children from slaveowning families. Turner hid in the woods for six weeks before he was finally caught. All of the members of Turner's rebellion were hanged.

In the weeks that followed Turner's rebellion, terrified whites killed over 100 innocent enslaved and free blacks. Some states passed laws forbidding African Americans from gathering in public places and holding their own religious services.

Frederick Douglass

Some states, such as Alabama, made it a crime to teach a slave to read or write. When Frederick Douglass was years old, he heard the slave owner's wife reading aloud from the Bible. When he asked her to teach him to read, her husband was furious. "If he learns to read the Bible it will forever unfit him to be a slave," he told her. "He should know nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it."

Douglass decided that he wanted to learn. He convinced poor white children to give him reading lessons in exchange for bread. Before long he could read the newspaper. Later, he learned to write by tracing the letters on the ship in his owner's shipyard.

In 1838, a friend gave the 20-year-old Douglass money for a train ticket to the North. Another friend gave him false papers that identified Douglass as a sailor. On September 4, 1838, Douglas walked down the streets of New York City. "A new world had opened upon me," he wrote.

Speaking Out Against Slavery

Douglass soon moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. He hoped to find work in the shipyards there. In 1841 he


spoke about his experiences as a slave at a meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass was quickly hired by the society to give speeches about slavery all over the country. In 1845he wrote a book about his early years, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. It became an instant bestseller. The details his book provided about his life, however, increased his chances of being recaptured. As a result, Douglass spent the next few years in Europe speaking out against slavery.

Douglass's speeches encouraged many others to attack slavery. Read the excerpt from a speech he gave at an Independence Day picnic. What made Douglass's remarks so powerful?

Read the meeting notice for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society (below). Douglass's moving talks about life under slavery made him (right) one of its key speakers.



Excerpt from a speech by Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York, July 4, 1852.

Fellow citizens—Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called on to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable difference between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. . . . This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. . .

[Why should .I have] to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow-men, to beat them with sticks to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters?

embodied: contained

in common: by all

brutes: animals

flay: strip away

sunder: break apart



Although slavery increased in the South, over 430,000 free African Americans were also living in the United States by 1850. Many had been freed when the northern states ended slavery. Some southern whites, such as George Washington, had freed their slaves after the American Revolution. Other enslaved people purchased their freedom. Some blacks and whites thought that blacks should be sent to Africa to found their own country.

Prejudice in the North

Although Douglass was overjoyed to be free, he quickly learned that life for African Americans was also difficult in the North. "Slave catchers" roamed the cities looking for escaped slaves. Sometimes the slave catchers would kidnap African Americans who had been born free and then sell them into slavery.

Although Douglass was a shipbuilder, he could not get work in his trade. When he first arrived in the North, Douglass had to take such jobs as collecting trash and digging cellars. Because of prejudice, most skilled work was closed to African Americans.

In many places African Americans were barred from lecture halls, hotels, and restaurants. They were forced to sit in separate sections in white churches. And they still could not vote.

Building Communities

To cope with prejudice and other challenges, many free African Americans

This photograph from the 1800s (left), called a tintype, was found in 1968 during the restoration of Weeksville. By 1850 this community in Brooklyn, New York, had its own school (below).


founded communities of their own. Communities like Weeksville in New York City and Umbler in Virginia had existed since the early 1700s.

Free African Americans also set up organizations to meet their needs. Many of these organizations were run by both Baptist and Methodist church groups. For example, by 1846 the African Methodist Episcopal Church had nearly 300 branches throughout the United States. These churches established schools, organized social events, and helped escaping slaves.


Mostly because of slavery, the divisions between the North and the South had widened by 1850. "On the subject of slavery," said one South Carolina newspaper, "the North and South . . . are not only two Peoples, but they are rival, hostile Peoples." In 1850 Northern political leaders were still careful about attacking slavery in the South. They feared that a struggle over slavery would destroy the country. It was a struggle, however, that would not be avoided for long.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• By 1850, the North, with its large cities and immigrant labor, had become a region whose wealth was based more on manufacturing. The South had become a wealthy agricultural region because of the cotton produced by slave labor.

• Some African Americans, such as Frederick Douglass, escaped to freedom in the North and joined the fight against slavery.

• Free African Americans found support by building communities and organizations of their own.


1. Describe the different ways in which Frederick Douglass resisted slavery.

2. What were some of the problems free African Americans faced?

3. FOCUS Summarize the major differences that had formed between the North and the South by 1860.

4. THINKING SKILL Compare and contrast the views of slavery given by George Fitzhugh on page 445 and Frederick Douglass on page 447.

5. WRITE Write a response to one of the arguments Southerners used to defend slavery.

The Brooklyn, New York, branch of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (above) was founded in 1818. The church remains an important part of African American life today.





The printed word played a key role in convincing people to join the fight against slavery. By 1860 about 17 African American newspapers were printed in the United States. These newspapers were read by both whites and blacks.

The most famous and influential was the North Star, started by Frederick Douglass in 1847. There were others, such as Freeman's Advocate, Freedom Journal, and The Mirror of Liberty. They included news of speeches, reports of meetings, notices of upcoming activities, and articles related to ending slavery. The legacy of these newspapers can be seen in today's many African American publications.

The North Star was read by people all over the country. Douglass named the paper after the star that many escaping slaves used to guide themselves to the North.


John Russwurm (left) and Samuel E. Cornish founded Freedom's Journal, the first African American-owned newspaper in the United States, in 1827. One of its goals was to "arrest the progress of prejudice." The journalist Ida Wells (below left) was an owner of the Memphis paper Free Speech in the early 1900s. Today several publications are owned by African Americans (below).




Focus Activity


Who led the struggles for abolition and women's rights?



Underground Railroad

Seneca Falls Convention


William Lloyd Garrison

Angelina Grimke

Sarah Grimke

Levi Coffin

Catherine Coffin

Harriet Tubman

Lucretia Mott

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Sojourner Truth


Seneca Falls


"Women ought to feel a special sympathy for the colored man, for, like him, she has been accused of mental inferiority and denied a good education." These words were spoken by Angelina Grimke, who was among the first to see the connection between seeking women's rights and ending slavery.


Opposition to slavery began long before the United States became an independent country. Before the American Revolution, many Quakers worked to end slavery. The Quakers were among the first abolitionists. An abolitionist was someone who wanted to abolish, or end, slavery in the United States. You have read about one abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. Abolitionists were both black and white, Northern and Southern, and male and female. As the practice of slavery increased during the 1800s, more people began to speak out against it.

As women fought for equal rights for African Americans, they also began to think more about their own rights. Like African Americans, women in the early 1800s had very few legal rights. A married woman could not own property. If she worked, she had to give her wages to her husband. Women could not vote. Most colleges and professions were closed to women. As the abolition movement strengthened, so did the fight for women's rights that grew out of it.



In 1831 a new newspaper, The Liberator, appeared in Boston. Its strong words caused a stir throughout the United States.

William Lloyd Garrison

An abolitionist named William Lloyd Garrison began The Liberator. Garrison believed that no compromises should be made when it came to slavery. Slavery was wrong and should be ended immediately. Black people, he said, should have the same rights as white people. In the first issue of his paper he warned:

On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. . . . Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; .. . but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. . . . I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.

Garrison's message was indeed heard. In some places copies of The Liberator were burned and mail carriers refused to deliver it. In Georgia a $5,000 reward was offered for Garrison's arrest. He was often attacked by angry crowds. One newspaper referred to Garrison as "the most mobbed man in the United States." Some Northerners also opposed Garrison. Although these Northerners did not own slaves, they did not support equal rights for blacks and whites.

Southerners Who Opposed Slavery

A number of Southern whites supported Garrison's message. After Nat Turner's rebellion in 1831 it became especially dangerous for Southerners to speak out against slavery. Those who did were often attacked and forced to leave their homes.

Angelina Grimke and Sarah Grimke were daughters of a wealthy South Carolina judge and plantation owner. They had seen the evils of slavery first-hand. "From early childhood," Sarah wrote, "[I] long believed their bondage [slavery] inconsistent with justice and humanity." Eventually, the two sisters decided to move to the North where they could work openly for the end of slavery. There they made history as the first women to speak publicly for the abolitionist cause.



Meanwhile, enslaved African Americans continued to suffer. For some, like Frederick Douglass, life under slavery was so terrible they risked their lives to escape from it. Slaves often had to travel hundreds of miles before reaching freedom in the North. Slaveowners considered their slaves valuable property. As a result slave catchers were immediately sent out to capture slaves who escaped.

A Different Kind of Railroad

Many slaves who did escape got help on the Underground Railroad. This was not a real railroad, but a system of secret routes that escaping captives followed to freedom. On this "railroad," the slaves were called "passengers." Those who guided and transported them were "conductors." The places where slaves hid along the way were called "stations." People who fed and sheltered them were "stationmasters."

Enslaved people often used songs to signal their plan to escape. One song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd," gave directions for escaping north in code:

The river ends between two hills,

Follow the drinking gourd.

There's another river on the other side,

Follow the drinking gourd.

When the great big river meets the little river,

Follow the drinking gourd.

For the old man is a-waiting for to carry you to freedom

If you follow the drinking gourd.

Each of the rivers in the song was an actual river. For example, the "great big river" was the Ohio River. The "drinking gourd" was the Little Dipper. One


of the stars in the Little Dipper is the North Star, which escaping slaves used to guide them north.

Levi Coffin, a Quaker from Indiana, was one of many people who helped slaves to escape. His wife Catherine Coffin fed, clothed, and hid the slaves in their house. What they did took great courage. If caught, they could have been hanged. Because their work was so secret, we will never know how many people actually worked or escaped on the Underground Railroad.

Harriet Tubman

In 1849 Harriet Tubman heard that she and other slaves on her Maryland plantation were to be sold further south. Tubman knew that life was even harder for slaves on the large cotton plantations there. She told her husband, John, "There's two things I've a right to: death or liberty. One or the other I mean to have. No one will take me back alive."

Tubman fled from the plantation in the middle of the night and headed for the house of a white woman known to help escaping slaves. The woman gave her two slips of paper with the names of families on the route north who would help her. These were Tub-man's first "railroad tickets."

Tubman traveled at night, mostly through swamps and woodlands. After traveling 90 miles, she reached the free soil of Pennsylvania. She later said:

I looked at my hands, to see if I was the same person now that I was free. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in heaven.

Tubman returned many times to guide her family and many others to freedom. She was given the nickname "Moses," after the Hebrew prophet who led his people out of slavery in Egypt. Thousands of dollars were offered for Tubman's capture. More than 300 slaves owed their freedom to her.

Harriet Tubman (right) and Levi and Catherine Coffin (above) helped slaves escape to freedom in the North.



When the Grimke sisters first made speeches about abolition, they were criticized for speaking in public because they were women. In 1837 Angelina Grimke wrote: "The discussion of the rights of the slave has opened the way for the discussion of other rights." She meant the rights of women. In 1840 William Lloyd Garrison named a woman for a leadership position in the American Antislavery Society. Many delegates resigned in protest against having a female leader.

That same year, the World Antislavery Convention, which was meeting in London, refused to seat the women delegates. When the women protested, they were invited to sit silently behind a curtain while the men discussed slavery. Angered, the women decided to meet to discuss women's rights.

The Seneca Falls Convention

Two of the women who attended the London convention were the abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Lucretia Mott had been a founder of the American Antislavery Society. In 1848 Stanton, Mott, and three other women met in Seneca Falls, New York, where Stanton lived. They decided to hold a convention to discuss "the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women."

Before the convention, they wrote a statement that they modeled after the Declaration of Independence. Called "A Declaration of Rights and Sentiments," their document listed 18 rights they believed women should have. It began with the statement that "all men and women are created equal."

More than 240 people attended the Seneca Falls Convention, which began on July 19, 1848. After two days of discussion, the convention approved the "Declaration of Rights and Sentiments." Read the excerpt from the Declaration below. In what ways is it like the Declaration of Independence?



Excerpt from the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, Seneca Falls, New York, 1848.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations (yoo sur PAY shunz) on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to [vote]. . . .

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns. . .

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.

usurpations: taking over by force

tyranny: power

candid: honest

civilly dead: without rights


Sojourner Truth

The women's movement continued to grow. In 1851 a women's rights convention was held in Akron, Ohio. Men spoke there about how a woman's place was in the home and how women were weaker than men. Suddenly, a woman mounted the steps to the platform. She rolled up her sleeve and raised her strong and muscular arm in the air. "Look at me!" she said. "I have plowed, and planted, and gathered [crops] into barns, and no man could head [outdo] me! And ain't I a woman?"

The speaker's name was Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery about 1797, she was freed when she was 30 years old. At the age of 46, she began speaking out about the evils of slavery. Throughout the 1840s and the 1850s, Sojourner Truth gave speeches around the country in support of both abolition and women's rights.


At the Seneca Falls Convention, Frederick Douglass spoke in support of the women's cause. To him, the connection between abolition and women's rights was clear. He later wrote:

I am for any movement whenever and wherever there is a good cause to promote, a right to assert [defend], a chain to be broken, a burden to be removed, or a wrong to be redressed [corrected].

Like Douglass many people found that the abolition movement and the women's rights movement strengthened each other. Both would result in gains before long.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• In 1831 William Lloyd Garrison began publishing The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper.

• Many enslaved African Americans escaped through the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman guided hundreds to freedom.

• The women's rights movement began with the Seneca Falls Convention, held in New York in 1848.


1. Who supported Garrison's newspaper? Who opposed it? Why?

2. What rights did women lack in the early and middle 1800s?

3. FOCUS Who were the leaders of the abolition and women's rights movements? How were these two movements connected?

4. THINKING SKILL Predict what effects conflicts over slavery would have on the movement for women's rights.

5. GEOGRAPHY Look at the map on page 454. Why do you think some slaves escaping from Texas headed south?

Abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left) and Sojourner Truth (above) were among the earliest founders of the women's rights movement.



Reading a Newspaper


news article



feature article




In the nineteenth century newspapers were people's main source of information. There was no television or radio. There were no computers. People had to rely on newspapers to find out what was happening in their town, city, or country, as well as in the world. Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison each started a newspaper, which was the best way, they thought, to inform and inspire their fellow Americans.

Today, people can get news from television or radio. Still, many read newspapers to find out what is going on in the country and in the world. For example, if you follow sports, you read the sports section to find out the previous day's sporting events. If you want to see a film, you look at the entertainment page in your local paper to find out what is playing.


In order to understand a newspaper and to make the best use of it, you need to know about its different parts, or sections. The first part usually contains news articles. A news article describes an important event that has recently taken place. News articles can be about local, state, national, or international events.


A news article always begins with a headline, or a sentence or phrase printed in large type across the top of a news article. Headlines, like the one about Turner's Rebellion on page 458, are meant to catch the reader's attention. Usually a news article also has a dateline. A dateline tells when and where the story was written. The dateline on the news article in the Legacy on pages 450-451 is Rochester, N.Y., Friday, February 22, 1850.

The first paragraph of a news article is designed to catch the reader's interest and to tell the most important facts in the story. Usually the first paragraph answers the questions Who? What? When? and Where? Who is the story about? What is it about? When did the events take place? Where did they take place? The rest of the article gives more facts. It generally does not give opinions.

Many newspapers also offer feature articles. A feature article is a detailed report on a person, an issue, or an event. For example, the newspaper containing the article shown here might have also included a feature article about other women who have fought for equal rights.

In most newspapers you might also find an editorial page. An editorial is an article in which the editors, or people who run the newspaper, give their opinions on important issues. The editorial page might also contain letters to the editors which are written by the newspaper's readers to tell how they feel about certain issues. For example, a week after the Seneca Falls Convention, the County Standard might have published letters by supporters and opponents of the Convention.

Helping Yourself

• A news article tells about important events. A feature article gives details about a person, issue, or event. The editorial page has opinions written by the editors.

• Decide which part of the newspaper you want or need to read.


Newspapers like Douglass's North Star or William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator played an important role in the antislavery cause. What might the headline for a news article in one of their newspapers say about a slave auction? Do you think the headline would have described the event in a positive, negative, or neutral way? What information would such a news article give in the first paragraph? In the other paragraphs? What kinds of feature articles might be included?

Both Douglass's and Garrison's newspapers contained an editorial page. What opinions do you think they might have written for this section of their newspaper? Suppose you wanted to read an article about Sojourner Truth in either of their newspapers. What type of article would it be?


1. What is a headline of a news article? A dateline? An editorial?

2. What is the purpose of the first paragraph of a news article?

3. Why might the writer of a newspaper article find it necessary to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? in the first paragraph?

4. What would be some topics for at least three feature articles in an edition of The County Standard?

5. How can knowing how to read a newspaper help someone to be a better citizen?




Focus Activity


What caused the country to pull apart in 1860?


Missouri Compromise

Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

Compromise of 1850

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Dred Scott Decision

states' rights


Confederate States of America


John C. Calhoun

Henry Clay

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Abraham Lincoln

John Brown

Jefferson Davis


Harpers Ferry


"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure half slave and half free." This warning was given to the American people by Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for the United States Senate in 1858. Although he lost the election, his prediction proved true. By 1860 the issue of slavery would tear the country apart.


By the early 1800s many Americans had begun to refer to the United States as the Union. A union is a group of political bodies, such as states, that have joined together for a common purpose. In 1819 the United States was evenly divided between free states and slave states. Free states did not permit slavery within their borders. Slave states did. That year Missouri asked to join the Union as a slave state.

To maintain a balance between free states and slave states, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise in 1820. This compromise created an imaginary line from east to west through the Louisiana Territory, as you can see on the map on page 461. Slavery would be allowed in all states south of the line. It would be forbidden in all states north of the line except for Missouri. Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state, and Maine was admitted as a free state.

In 1850 California asked to join the United States as a free state. California would tip Congress in favor of the free states. Leaders sought another compromise, but compromising over slavery was becoming more difficult.



Many members of Congress thought they would never find a solution to the California question. Senator John C. Calhoun. Calhoun of South Carolina had all but given up. "There is little or no prospect of any change for the better," he wrote.

The Compromise of 1850

As you read in Chapter 15, the United States had gained Texas, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1848. Both northerners and southerners were worried about the role of slavery in these territories. Northerners and Southerners were also divided on a bill in Congress called the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. This law would require police in the free states to help capture slaves escaping from slave states.

Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky had worked out the Missouri Compromise many years earlier. Although Clay was a slave owner, he believed strongly in the importance of the Union. "I know no South, no North, no East, no West to which I owe allegiance," he declared. Clay vowed to work out another compromise. His solution became known as the Compromise of 1850. In this compromise, California would be admitted as a free state, which would benefit the North. In return, the North would agree to obey the Fugitive Slave Law. The other territories that had been gained from Mexico in 1848 would decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery. After six months of debate, Clay's compromise was accepted by Congress. The Union had been saved once again.



Although the Compromise of 1850 was approved, many problems remained. Abolitionists stated that the Fugitive Slave Law clashed with the Bill of Rights. Under the Fugitive Slave Law, a free African American could be captured and sold into slavery.

Uncle Tom's Cabin

In 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe, the daughter of a Massachusetts minister, wrote a novel called Uncle Tom's Cabin to protest the Fugitive Slave Law. Stowe, who was an abolitionist, wrote about how a slave named Eliza Harris escaped to prevent her young son from being sold away from her. Another slave, Uncle Tom, died under the whip of the cruel overseer Simon Legree.

Uncle Tom's Cabin sold more than 300,000 copies within the first year. It was translated into several languages and was read widely in Europe. Many people were deeply moved by Stowe's novel and joined the fight against slavery.

"Bleeding Kansas"

In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This law allowed the Kansas and Nebraska territories to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. Both territories were north of the Missouri Compromise Line.

Slave owners were pleased because the new law opened Kansas and Nebraska to slavery. Many Northern farmers and workers who wanted to move west opposed the law. They worried that rich Southern planters would grab the best land in these territories and use slave labor to farm it. They demanded that the western lands be "free soil."

Many "free soilers" joined with abolitionists to form the Republican Party. The Republicans believed that no person should own another and that all new states should be free states. One of the members of the new party was Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer from Illinois. Lincoln opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and warned that "the contest will come to blows and bloodshed."

As Lincoln predicted, violence soon broke out between free soilers and slave owners in Kansas. Buildings were burned and people were killed. The newspapers referred to the territory as "Bleeding Kansas."

The Dred Scott Decision

In 1856, after living in the free state of California for three years, an enslaved woman named Biddy Mason was awarded her freedom in a local court. In 1857 a similar case reached the Supreme Court. A slave named Dred Scott asked the Court for his freedom because he had lived with his owner in a free territory. The Supreme Court ruled against Scott. The Dred Scott Decision stated that slaves were property. The Constitution protects the right of citizens in the United States to take their

Uncle Tom's Cabin, by the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, made many Americans aware of the horrors of slavery.


In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled that slaves, such as Dred Scott (left), were property. As such, they had no rights of their own.

property anywhere. The Supreme Court also said that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. Congress did not have the right to make certain territories "free," since that would keep slave owners from moving their property.

Several Northern state legislatures passed resolutions stating that the Dred Scott Decision "was not binding in law and conscience." Some leaders said that the Dred Scott Decision did not have to be obeyed.

John Brown's Raid

At dawn on October 16, 1859, a group of men took control of a building in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, where weapons were being stored by the federal government.

The leader of the group was an abolitionist named John Brown. The raiders hoped to start a rebellion by passing out the captured weapons to slaves. Brown and his men, however, were quickly arrested. Brown was found guilty of treason and hanged.

Northerners were divided about the raid. Abolitionist Theodore Parker called Brown "a saint." Yet The Liberator, however, called Brown's plan "insane." Many Southerners feared that Northerners would stop at nothing to abolish slavery.


Slavery and states' rights were major issues in the Lincoln-Douglas debates (left). In these debates, Abraham Lincoln (below) took a strong stand against slavery.


As a young man, Abraham Lincoln had taught himself law and become a lawyer in Illinois. He then served four terms in the state legislature and one term as a representative in Congress.

In 1858 Lincoln ran for senator against Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. Douglas was know as the "Little Giant" because, although he was very short, he was a powerful speaker. During the campaign, Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of debates. One of the topics to be debated was slavery. "If slavery is not wrong," Lincoln once said, "nothing is wrong." He firmly opposed slavery spreading to any new territories.

Douglas, on the other hand, supported states' rights. He believed each state should be allowed to make its own decision about most issues. Slavery, he believed, was one of these issues. Although Lincoln lost the election, the debates made him well-known across the country. "Perhaps no local contest in this country ever excited an interest as that now waging in Illinois," wrote the New York Tribune.

The Election of 1860

In 1860 Lincoln faced Douglas again. This time they were both running for United States President. Of the four candidates, only Lincoln was firmly opposed to the spread of slavery.

To preserve the Union, Lincoln pledged to leave slavery alone where it already existed. However, if no new slave states were admitted to the Union, free states would soon be a majority in Congress. The South would lose its political power. Some Southern states talked about seceding if Lincoln were elected. To secede meant that the states would leave the Union.


South Carolina Secedes

When Lincoln won the election, people waited anxiously to see whether any states would carry out their threat of seceding from the Union. Lincoln called talk of leaving the Union "humbug." In December 1860, however, the state of South Carolina voted to secede.

By March 1861, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and South Carolina had formed a new country, the Confederate States of America. They drafted a constitution and named a president. They chose Jefferson Davis, a United States Senator from Mississippi and a planter who had fought in the Mexican War. The Union was now split.


By the late 1850s divisions between North and South became so deep that they could no longer be settled by compromise. For many Southerners, the only course of action left seemed to be to secede. To newly elected President Lincoln, the answer was clear. To secede was illegal and would not be allowed. The conflict between the North and the South was about to become a war.

Jefferson Davis, a former Secretary of War, supported states' rights and believed that slavery was necessary to the South's economy.

Reviewing Facts and Ideas


• The Missouri Compromise divided the country into free and slave states. In the Compromise of 1850, California became a free state, and Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law.

• The Dred Scott Decision and Uncle Tom's Cabin of 1851, the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act and John Brown's raid in 1859 deepened conflicts between North and South.

• After Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, seven Southern states seceded to form the Confederate States of America.


1. What was the Fugitive Slave Law?

2. What two government actions undid the Missouri Compromise?

3. FOCUS What events of the 1850s caused the country to pull apart?

4. THINKING SKILL Compare the various opinions about John Brown's raid.

5. GEOGRAPHY Using the maps on pages 461 and 463, describe how the United States changed between 1820 and 1854.




The first flag of the Confederacy (right) had a star for each state that had seceded. The flag on the left is a Union flag from 1860.


In the debate over whether states had the right to secede, both the North and the South referred to the Constitution. Those in favor of secession argued that the federal government is a union of states. As a part of that union, the states had trusted that their rights would be respected. Interfering with slavery went against the rights of the Southern states and was, therefore, unconstitutional. As you can read in Jefferson Davis's argument, they also believed that the Declaration of Independence gave people the right to change their government when they believed it no longer served them.

Those against secession, such as James Buchanan, argued that the Constitution did not give states the right to secede. Abraham Lincoln had been elected by a democratic process. Anger over his election was not enough of a reason to release any state from the Union. Secession was, they said, unconstitutional. It was an act of rebellion that should be stopped by force.

Abolitionists did not believe that states' rights and secession were the main issues. They believed that the conflict was really a fight over whether slavery should be allowed to continue. Consider the three viewpoints on this issue and answer the questions that follow.


Three DIFFERENT Viewpoints


President of the United States, 1857-1861

Excerpt from Message to Congress, January 8, 1861

No state has a right by its own act to secede from the Union, or throw off its Federal obligations at pleasure. . . . Even if that right existed and should be exercised by any state of the confederacy, the executive department of this government [has] no authority under the Constitution to recognize its validity by acknowledging the independence of such State.


Senator from Mississippi

Excerpt from Speech to the United States Senate, December 10, 1860

The sacrifices made by Americans during the American Revolution [were to] establish community independence, and the great American idea that all governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that the people may, at their will, alter or abolish their government, however, and by whomsoever instituted.


Abolitionist and Publisher

Excerpt from Speech published in Douglass' Monthly, August 1861

The war is called a section [regional] war; but there is nothing in the sections [regions], in the difference of climate or soil, to produce conflicts between the two sections. . . . The two sections are inhabited by the same people. . . . There is nothing existing between them to prevent . . . peace but the existence of slavery. Everybody knows this, everybody feels this, and yet the great mass of the people refuse to confess it, and the government refuses to recognize it.


1. What was the viewpoint of each person? How did each person support his view?

2. In what ways were some of the viewpoints alike? In what ways were they different?

3. What other viewpoints might people have had on this issue? What are some ways in which the issue of states' rights might be discussed today?


Discuss reasons Southerners believed they should secede and Northerners believed secession was unconstitutional. As a class discuss which viewpoints you agree or disagree with. What are some statements, if any, that all three speakers could have agreed on?




Number a paper from 1 to 5. Beside each number, write the word from the list below that completes the numbered blank in the paragraph.





Underground Railroad

The (1) on the newspaper read Boston, January 7, 1855. Inside was an article about a local (2) who was a conductor on the (3) and who now was working to bring an end to slavery in the United States. The newspaper's editors, in an (4) , expressed an opinion in support of this effort. The article said that it would be better for the United States to fail apart than for slavery to continue. The antislavery cause was just, the newspaper said, even if the Southern states decided to (5) , or leave the Union.


1. Describe the differences between the North and the South in the 1850s.

2. What did the Missouri Compromise do? For how long was it successful?

3. How did Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman fight against slavery?

4. What were some of the reasons for the large increase in immigration to the United States in the middle 1800s? Where did most of the immigrants settle?

5. What happened in Seneca Falls, New York, and why was it important?

6. List the details of the Compromise of 1850. Why was it important?

7. What were the effects of the book Uncle Tom's Cabin on its readers?

8. What was Abraham Lincoln's position on slavery during the election of 1860?

9. Who won the election of 1860 and what was the immediate result?

10. How are the events listed on the time line for 1850 and 1852 related?




Suppose that you are an observer at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Write a letter home describing the people you meet there and the events taking place.


Choose one of the people you read about in this chapter. Make a list of facts about the person and of words that describe him or her. Use your notes to write a short character sketch, or several paragraphs that describe this person.


Suppose that you are the editor of a newspaper in 1860 in either the North or the South. Write an editorial in which you react to Abraham Lincoln's election as President.



Answer the following questions to practice the skill of reading a newspaper.

1. What are three different kinds of articles that can be found in a newspaper?

2. What appears on the editorial page of a newspaper?

3. Reread the article from the County Standard on page 458. What is the dateline for that article?

4. Using the same article, answer the questions Who? What? When? and Where?

5. Why is knowing how to read a newspaper an important skill?

Summing Up the Chapter

Copy the cause-and-effect chains on a separate piece of paper. Review the chapter to complete the blank sections. When you have completed the chart, use the information in the chart to help you answer the question "What event appeared to change the balance between slave states and free states? What was the result of this event?"


Download 133.45 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2023
send message

    Main page