Primary Causes of the American Civil War

1. Three-Fifth Compromise, 1787 & Sectionalism
2. Invention of the Cotton Gin, 1793
3. Louisiana Purchase/Westward Expansion, 1803

4. Missouri Compromise, 1820

5. Compromise of 1850 & The Mexican-American War

5. Abolitionist Movement & The Underground Railroad

6. Fugitive Slave Act, 1850

7. Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852

8. Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854

9. Bloody Kansas, 1855

10. Dred Scott Decision, 1857

11. Harper's Ferry & John Brown, 1859

12. Election of Lincoln, 1860

By Calvin Best, Using Bunkr Software

Constitutional Convention

Independence Hall

Philadelphia ◦ 1787 

As you already know, the three-fifths compromise came about during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when northern representatives insisted that southern states not be allowed to count slaves as citizens. 

The population census would determine, as per the new US Constitution (via the Great Compromise), the number of representatives for the House of Representatives. Northern leaders said that since slaves were property and essentially denied almost all basic rights, they could not be counted as citizens for a state's population census. The Southern leaders, of course, rejected that argument. Eventually, legislators in Philadelphia created the three-fifths compromise whereby five slaves equaled three human beings for the purposes of the census. Only politicians could have created such a bizarre arrangement. That "compromise" did not settle the issue; rather, it simply postponed US governmental leaders from dealing with slavery and its immoral structure, contributing more toward the nation's heightened sense of sectionalism. What is sectionalism? It is a tendency to be more concerned with the interests of your particular group or region than with the problems and interests of the larger group, country, etc. You will increasingly understand that definition as we work our way through this material. For the purposes of our current discussion, "sectionalism" means that a growing rift was emerging between the slave-holding Southern states and the increasingly non-slave utilizing northern states.

In 1794, U.S.-born inventor Eli Whitney (1765-1825) patented the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized the production of cotton by greatly speeding up the process of removing seeds from cotton fiber. By the mid-19th century, cotton had become America’s leading export. Despite its success, the gin made little money for Whitney due to patent-infringement issues. Also, his invention offered Southern planters a justification to maintain and expand slavery even as a growing number of Americans supported its abolition.

Please watch the video on the next slide.

With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United States bought approximately 828,000,000 square miles of territory from France, thereby doubling the size of the young republic. Please see the included map. What was known as Louisiana Territory stretched from the Mississippi River in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west and from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the Canadian border in the north. Part or all of 15 states were eventually created from the land deal, which is considered one of the most important achievements of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency.

Please watch the video on the next slide.

The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States, and Native Americans were never consulted. It is the Louisiana Purchase that set in motion the chain of events that led to the congressional struggle for the extension of slavery into the new territories that would soon become states. 

Read this web article about the results of the Louisiana Purchase. Click here.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820

It was a measure worked out between the North and the South and passed by the U.S. Congress that allowed for admission of Missouri as the 24th state (1821). It marked the beginning of the prolonged sectional conflict over the extension of slavery that led to the American Civil War.

Please read these two articles 

from the web:

Missouri Compromise Article #1

Missouri Compromise Article #2

Geo-Political Overview of USA in 1850

Mexican Cession Map

Please watch this excellent presentation concerning the Compromise of 1850.

The Abolitionist Movement & The Underground Railroad
Please read this mobile-friendly overview.

Please visit this website and read the article about the abolitionist movement.

Click HERE to go on the Underground Railroad Journey. This is a Flash-based website, so you will need to work through it on a laptop or desktop.

Please read the articles about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 at the below links. The Fugitive Slave Law has also been mentioned in several previous videos and/or documents.

Article #1 ◦ Article #2 ◦ Article #3

Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe was a bestseller and contributed greatly to the abolitionist movement.

Article # 1Article #2  

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. The Act served to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36°30´. The Kansas-Nebraska Act infuriated many in the North who considered the Missouri Compromise to be a long-standing, binding agreement. In the pro-slavery South it was strongly supported.

After the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, pro-slavery and anti-slavery supporters rushed to settle Kansas in order to affect the outcome of the first election held there after the law went into effect. Pro-slavery settlers carried the election but were charged with fraud by anti-slavery settlers, and they did not accept the results.

The anti-slavery settlers held another election; however, pro-slavery settlers refused to vote. This resulted in the establishment of two opposing legislatures within the Kansas territory.

Violence soon erupted, with the anti-slavery forces led by John Brown. The territory earned the nickname "Bleeding Kansas" as the death toll rose.

President Franklin Pierce, in support of the pro-slavery settlers, sent in Federal troops to stop the violence and disperse the anti-slavery legislature. Another election was called. Once again pro-slavery supporters won, and once again they were charged with election fraud. As a result, Congress did not recognize the constitution adopted by the pro-slavery settlers, and Kansas was not allowed to become a state.

Eventually, however, anti-slavery settlers outnumbered pro-slavery settlers, and a new constitution was drawn up. On January 29, 1861, just before the start of the Civil War, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state.

The Dred Scott Decision

Dred Scott was the name of an African-American slave. He was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. He lived on free soil for a long period of time.

When the Army ordered his master, U.S. Army Surgeon Dr. John Emerson, to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where Emerson died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist (anti-slavery) lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming he should be free since he

had lived on free soil for a long time. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, was a former slave owner from Maryland.

In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as seven out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.

At that time there were nearly 4 million slaves in America. The court's ruling affected the status of every enslaved and free African-American in the United States. The ruling served to turn back the clock concerning the rights of African-Americans, ignoring the fact that black men in five of the original States had been full voting citizens dating back to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The Supreme Court also ruled that Congress could not stop slavery in the newly emerging territories and declared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to be unconstitutional. 

The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30´ in the Louisiana Purchase. The Court declared it violated the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibited Congress from depriving persons of their property without due process of law.

Anti-slavery leaders in the North cited the controversial Supreme Court decision as evidence that Southerners wanted to extend slavery throughout the nation and ultimately rule the nation itself. Southerners approved the Dred Scott decision, believing Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories. Abraham Lincoln reacted with disgust to the ruling and was spurred into political action, publicly speaking out against it.

Overall, the Dred Scott decision had the effect of widening the political and social gap between North and South and took the nation closer to the brink of Civil War.

Bleeding Kansas, which you have just examined, was really a dress rehearsal for the Civil War, as the era of political compromise was about to end.

John Brown & Harper's Ferry

The Election of Abraham Lincoln, 1860

The Civil War Begins: The Battle of Fort Sumter

These are excellent overview videos that you need to watch.

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by calvinbest


Public - 1/1/16, 9:17 PM