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A Summary Of The Civil War Essay, Research Paper

The 1800’s were a tumultuous time for the United States of America. At that time

the south was typically slave and the northerners were traditionally for freedom. The

slave states of the south and the abolitionist in the north were quarreling and the

government recognizing that made efforts to stop or delay the civil war. In 1819 Missouri

wanted to enter the Union a slave state. At this time the 22 states of the Union were

divided evenly 11 slave and 11 free. Northern states were afraid that if Missouri entered

as a slave state it would give the south a majority in the senate. Southerners argued that

since the north had a majority in the House of Representatives that it was only fair that

they had a majority in the senate. Then in December 1819 three northern counties of

Massachusetts broke away and asked to be admitted to enter the Union as a free

state(Maine). This made the Missouri Compromise possible. The Missouri compromise

said that Missouri would be a slave state and Maine would be admitted

as a free state, it also said that any state in the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri’s

southern border would be a free state. This action delayed a deadly confrontation

between the North and the South, at least for awhile.

Then in 1828 congress raised the tariff on imported goods. In the south they didn’t

have very much industry so they had to import most of their good, so the tariffs were

unpopular their. One state that protested this action by congress. Since the North had

more industry, the South felt that congress was protecting the North by raising these

tariffs. South Carolina was the strongest protester of these tariffs. South Carolina

supported John C. Calhoun who said that a state could nullify or veto a national law

within it’s own boundaries. In 1832 South Carolina’s state legislature declared the tariff

acts of 1828 and 1832 null or void. They went even further by saying that if the

government tried to make them pay the tariff they would break away from the union.

Then President Andrew Jackson, who had said that the union must be preserved,

stated that he strongly opposed this nullification. Jackson also let it be know that he

would send 50,000 troops into South Carolina. This action scared South Carolina, and

when they asked other states for help they got no promises of military aid. Finally seeing

that his state was in bad shape John C. Calhoun asked Henry Clay to help him come up

with compromise. They came up with a law that would lower tariff annually over a 10

year period until they were satisfactory.

After the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis were dealt with things

were relatively quiet for awhile. Then in 1850 California requested admission to the union

as a free state. California was the first state applying for state hood in the Mexican

Cession. Southerners feared if California was a free state the rest of the territory would be

too. Northerners felt they had to stop the spread of slavery to end it altogether.

Then came another attempt to resolve the conflicts between the North and the

South. In January of 1850 Senator Henry Clay proposed a plan. His plan was divided

into six parts. The first part was that California would be admitted to the Union as a non-

slave state. The second part was that Utah and New Mexico could decide if they wanted

to be slave states of free states when they applied for statehood. The third and Fourth

parts were tied into each other, the third part was that Land in dispute between New

Mexico and Texas would go to New Mexico and for giving up this land Texas would

receive 10 million dollars. The fifth part was that buying and selling of slaves but not

slavery wouldn’t be allowed in the District of Columbia. The sixth and final part was that

congress would enforce a law stating that runaway slaves must be returned to their

owners. The bill was passed section by section until it became law. This again delayed

the inevitable.

Slavery: Slavery was one of the issues that the northerners and the southerners

fought about. In the south the main way of life was agriculture, the main cash crop was

cotton. Cotton was a labor consuming crop, it would cost a man a fortune to pay people

to work for him. Slaves were the answer to this problem.

Slave owners didn’t see the slaves as people he saw him as property. Slaves were

treated bad. Even the owners who saw themselves as fair still treated their slaves as dogs.

They were regularly beaten, they worked from dawn till dark for free.

This unfair treatment was a reason why many slaves wanted to escape, or runaway

from their masters to free states where they would be free. One way they escaped was the

underground railroad. It was called the underground railroad because it was secret and

the slaves were hidden at secret “stations” along the way, the people who guided the

escaping slaves were called conductors. One famous conductor was Harriet Tubman. She

guided many many slaves to freedom.

Another famous slave was Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a slave who had been

taken to Illinois, a free state, then to the Wisconsin territory where slavery was outlawed

by the Missouri compromise. He was then returned to Missouri by his master. Dred

Scott then sued his masters widow for his freedom saying that it was illegal to be taken to

a free state then taken back into slavery. The supreme court decided that slaves weren’t

citizens so they didn’t have the right to sue. The supreme court also decided that slaves

were property, and the bill of rights protected property therefore congress couldn’t outlaw

slavery in any of the territories.

This decision in the Dred Scott case pleased many southerners they felt that now

the new states would now be able to choose to be slave states. The decision angered

many northerners they felt that slaves were more than property and felt that this ruling was


In 1854 there was a bill that formed two territories in the Louisiana Purchase,

these states were Kansas and Nebraska. The bill also said that even though these

territories were north of the anti-slavery line the people of the territory would have a

chance to vote whether to be free or slave.

This bill would allow southerners to try and add another slave state to the Union.

Pro slavery people started moving into the Kansas territory. The state of Missouri started

recruiting settler who were for slavery and sent them to settle in the new territories. In

1855 people from Missouri crossed the border and voted illegally. The legislature in

Kansas started making pro-slavery laws. This angered the anti-slavery people so they

formed their own government. With two governments fighting for control law and order

broke apart. People started fighting and bloodshed took place this it became known as

Bleeding Kansas. There were raids and murders. One group pro-slavery group destroyed

the town of Lawrence and the antislavery newspaper there. As a rebuttal to this act an

abolitionist from Ohio named John Brown and his sons murdered five pro-slavery

activists, in Pottawatomie Creek.

John Brown was a fanatical abolitionists after this massacre in Pottawatomie he

moved east. He was financially supported there by other abolitionists. On October 16,

1859 Brown led a group of 18 men in a raid to take the government arsenal at Harpers

Ferry, VA. They wanted to take the guns here then they hoped that slaves in the area

would rebel and come and get the guns. Marines surrounded them. When Brown

wouldn’t surrender the Marines stormed him and captured him. He was convicted of

treason and sentenced to death.

Another Famous Abolitionist was Harriet Beecher Stowe. She wrote the famous

book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was a book about the way slaves were treated. At this time

many northerners had never even seen a black person so many opinions of slavery were

formed from this book. Uncle Tom’s Cabin made many people who could have cared less

about slavery become abolitionists hard core.


Brown, Richars; Bass, Herbert. One Flag, One Land. Silver, Burdett and

Ginn. Morristown, NJ. 1988

Allen, Thomas B. The Blue and The Gray. The National Georgraphic

Society. Washington D.C. 1992.

Abraham Lincoln: On Feb. 12, 1809 in a log cabin in Illinois Abraham Lincoln

was born. At the age of six Abraham and his sister walked “up the road a piece”(2 miles

each way) to go to school. He learned the three R’s, he liked writing and said that

practiced “anywhere and everywhere that lines could be drawn”. In 1816 the Lincolns

moved to backwoods Indiana. In 1818 Abe’s mother died. It only took one year for Abe’s

father to see that the family needed a mother so he went to town and married himself a

widow named Sara Bush Johnston. Abe and his sister learned to love their new mother.

She helped everyone in the family. Most of all she helped Abraham. Seeing how eager he

was to learn, she encouraged him to study. He later said “She was the best friend I ever

had…All that I am, I owe to my angel mother.” All of his schooling equaled less than a

year but he made up for that by reading. He was a crazy reading fool.

When Abe was the owner of the country store hired him to take a flat boat to New

Orleans. This was his first chance to see the outside world. Abe traveled 1,000 miles to

New Orleans, this is where Lincoln got his first taste of slavery. He didn’t like the seeing

the slave gangs in chains being taken to the plantations. He later said “Slavery is a

constant torment to me.”

When Abe was 21 he decided he was ready to live on his own. So when his father

moved he stayed and decide to go to New Orleans again. When he returned he worked as

a clerk in the town store. This is where stories about his honesty first started, people said

that he once walked six miles just to give back a few pennies to a woman who had paid

too much for groceries. People knew that they would get a fair deal when doing business

with “honest Abe”.

In 1832 he enrolled in the Black Hawk war. Lincoln was elected as captain of his

rifle company. This was an honor to him but he knew nothing of military life. During the

war he never saw any action but he did experience the hardships of military life. These

experiences gave him sympathy for the soldiers fighting for him during the civil war.

After the war the store he was running in New Salem didn’t work out. So he

bought another one with William Berry on credit. Months later Berry died leaving Lincoln

in debt $1,000. It took him years to pay it off. In 1833 Abe took an appointment as

deputy county surveyor. He had to learn how to survey though. He studied all day and

sometimes all night, and learned to survey in six weeks.

In 1834 he was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He was reelected in

1836, 1838, 1840. During this time Abe was determined to become a lawyer, so he

borrowed the law books and studied them. Many times he would walk 20 miles just to

return one and get another. On September 9, 1839 he received his law license. In

1837 he moved to Springfield he was dirt poor. So poor, that he couldn’t even afford to

buy sheets for his bed. The storekeeper felt so sorry for him he asked Abe to share his


by 1839 Lincoln had established himself as a lawyer in Springfield. At this time he

met Mary Todd. She was also being courted by a man named Stephen A. Douglas.

Mary’s parents wanted her to marry Douglas, but she wanted Lincoln. She predicted that

someday he would be president of the United States of America. On February 4, 1842

they were married.

In 1847 he went to Washington D.C. to represent Illinois. At this time the

Mexican war was going. Lincoln antiwar speeches displeased his supporter and he knew

he wouldn’t be reelected. In 1849 he went back to ght Lincoln back into politics. This

act allowed states to decide whether or not they wanted to be slave or free. This would

allow slavery to spread and Abe didn’t like that idea. He began giving speeches against

this act. In 1856 he helped to organize the Illinois branch of new Republicans. A party

formed by people wanting to stop the spread of slavery. IN 1858 Lincoln was the

Republican nomination for senator from Illinois. When he addressed the state convention

he said “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot

endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I

do not expect the house to fall-but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become

all one thing, or all the other.” Lincolns opponent was S

tephen A. Douglas. Lincoln and Douglas had a bunch of debates on the slavery issue.

Lincoln won this election, but the debates had raised the public oppinion of LIncoln.

His friends saw that people liked him and worked to get the Repulican nomination

in 1860. LIncoln now saw that he wanted to be president. Lincoln was nominated As the

Republican candidate. The democratic party was devided with the North wanting Stephen

A. Douglas and the South wanting John C. Breckinridge. For his campaign Lincoln

stayed in Springfield. To avoid raising controversy and maybe dividing the party he didn’t

make any speeches. This worked nd he was elected as the first Republican president.

The election of Lincoln made southerners angry. They felt that a Republican

would not respect their rights. They believed that their only hope was to seceed from the

Union. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina became the first state to break away from

the Union.

When it came time for Abe to become inaugurated as the six-teenth president of

the United States. He had many threats against his life, none of them frightened him. He

wa saware that there was great danger for a man in his position during a crisis. The

election of 1860 was a major factor in starting the civil war. In his inaugural speech

LIncoln said that he would respect the rights of the south despite this the civil war began

six weeks later.

At the start of the Civil War it appeared that the south would have no chance of

winning. The north had more money more men they had the advantage. They had more

industry and other resources. These advantages were eventually used by general Grant to

win the war.

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