Sunday, January 16, 2011

Civil War Sample Essay Question

Analyze the ways in which controversy over the extension of slavery into western territories contributed to the coming of the Civil War. Confine your answer to the period 1845–1861. 

1845-John O’Sullivan wrote of “our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the
continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty
and federated self-government entrusted to us.”
-U.S. annexed Texas as a slave state when lame-duck president John Tyler convinced Congress to
pass a joint resolution that admitted the Lone Star Republic to the Union.
1846-Congress affirmed a state of war with Mexico. Polk’s opponents charged him with provoking the
war to satisfy a “slave power” in the South.
  Wilmot Proviso:
• Stated that slavery should never exist in any territory taken from Mexico.
• Passed the House but not the Senate.
1848- Treaty of Guadalupe–Hidalgo:
• Included the Mexican Cession.
“Conscience Whigs” or anti-slavery Whigs opposed to the Mexican–American War.
Election of 1848:
• Lewis Cass (Democrat) — “popular sovereignty” (squatter sovereignty);
• Zachary Taylor (Whig) — quiet about slavery but was a slaveowner;
• Martin Van Buren (Free Soil).
 California Gold Rush (Forty-niners soon increased population to 100,000). 
1850  Compromise of 1850 (introduced by Henry Clay: Douglas drove through):
• Admission of California as a free state (16 free states and 15 slave states).
• New Mexico and Utah open to popular sovereignty.
• Texas lost land that would probably become free territory.
• The slave trade was banned in Washington, D.C.
• Fugitive Slave Law of 1850:
        o Heavy fines and jail sentences for those who helped runaway slaves escape.
        o The South was losing about a thousand runaway slaves a year.
        o “Personal liberty laws” in the North.
        o “We went to bed one night old-fashioned, conservative, Compromise Union
             Whigs and waked up stark-mad Abolitionists.”
1852  Election of 1852:
• Franklin Pierce (Democrat) — made national politics an arena where sectional and cultural
differences over slavery were fought;
• Winfield Scott (Whig) — party split over its candidate and platform (Compromise of 1850);
John P. Hale (Free Soil) — won 5 percent of the popular vote.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin — Harriet Beecher Stowe.
1853-Gadsden Purchase (U.S. acquisition of land south of Gila River from Mexico for possible southern
-transcontinental railroad line; route was never used). 1854  Black Warrior incident/Ostend Manifesto (reinforced image of Democratic Party as favoring
 slavery): attempt to provoke a war with Spain to claim Cuba as a slave state.
Kansas–Nebraska Act:
• Senator Stephen Douglas; 
• Sought transcontinental railroad terminus in Chicago;
• Popular sovereignty in Kansas and Nebraska territories;
• Undid the Missouri Compromise.
 Republican Party created.
1855- Bleeding Kansas (open warfare between proslavery and antislavery factions):
• “Border ruffians”/Lecompton and Topeka constitutions;
• “Beecher’s Bibles”;
• Attack at Lawrence, Kansas;
• John Brown/Pottawatomie Massacre.
1856- William Walker claimed presidency of Nicaragua and legalized slavery.
 Brooks–Sumner Affair:
• “The crime against Kansas.”
 Election of 1856:
• James Buchanan (Democrat) — “Kansas-less” because of an appointment in London;
• John C. Fremont (Republican) — against the extension of slavery;
• Millard Fillmore (American Party/“Know Nothings”).
1857- Lecompton Constitution (Buchanan’s decision to admit Kansas to the Union with a proslavery
constitution; defeated in Congress in 1858). 
 Dred Scott v. Sanford:
• Declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional because Congress did not have the
power to ban slavery in the territories (welcomed in the South, condemned in the North).
1858- Lincoln: “A house divided cannot stand.” (Republican Senate nominee acceptance speech in Chicago)
Lincoln–Douglas debates:
• Freeport Doctrine (Douglas said that the Dred Scott decision made slavery legal in the
territories in theory, but the people of a territory could keep slaves out in practice. His
stance cost him southern support for the presidency in 1860.)
1859- John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry (northern support shocks the South).
1860-  Election of 1860:
• John C. Breckinridge (Constitutional Democrats);
• Stephen Douglas (National Democrats);
• John Bell (Constitutional Union);
• Abraham Lincoln (Republicans);
• Democratic split allows Lincoln to win.
 South Carolina seceded (eventually 11 states secede).
1861- Confederate States of America:
• President Jefferson Davis.
Crittenden amendments to the Constitution:
      • Restored the 36˚30’ line.
 Fort Sumter.

General Information
• Underground Railroad (Harriet Tubman)
• States’ rights argument
• Expansion of Cotton Kingdom
• Industrializing of North (market revolution) vs. slave-based economy in the South
• Debate over morality of slavery
• Growing importance of abolitionist movement
• End of the Second American Party system