The 1850s were a time of attempted compromise when compromise was no longer possible. The Union was becoming divided through many events in the time leading into the Civil War. The North and South had too many hostilities to account for. Socially, the North and the South could not stand what the other would do or say with anything. Politically, the government was completely divided and undecided. And economically, the South began to prosper as the North began to struggle. Thus, during the 1850s, socially, politically, and economically there was not any compromise that could fix the problems beginning to occur.
In the 1850s, the North and South could not agree on anything and were in constant disagreements. In 1850, Henry Clay created the Compromise of 1850. In the compromise, it was said that California would be admitted as a free state which created a stir in the South since it would mean that the amount of Free states and slave states would be unbalanced (Shown in Document B). The North would now have power of the Senate and superiority over the South. The country would give Texas ten million dollars if they gave up claims to Mexico. This would take away a large piece of territory for a relatively low sum.
There would be abolition of slave trade in Washington D. C. , but not slavery. This meant that emancipation of slavery in the nation’s capital was starting. Also, Mexico and Utah’s slave status rested on popular sovereignty which leaned toward Free State status due to the incompatibility of the plantation system with the environment. Then, there would be a Fugitive Slave Law put in to place which would compel local officials to capture and return runaway slaves along with denying them jury trials, which some congressmen were against (Document F).
Daniel Webster also delivered the Seventh of March speech backing this compromise up as everyone else did not like the idea and explained why he thought it was necessary (Document A). This caused the South distress as they doubted the efforts of the Northerners to help them reclaim their property. This Compromise of 1850 was not completely a compromise because the South didn’t really get what they wanted, but the North was more successful in gaining their objectives. This made the south feel inferior to the North and creating more issues between them.
The Fugitive Slave Law also helped the North in creating the Underground Railroad in order to help out the slaves who were trying to escape to get them to Canada so they would not be captured. This made the South angered since the North was not complying with their efforts to get their property back. The people began to create writings about how they felt about these issues causing more of an uproar. The literature during this time was very influential towards slavery and what the people thought about the issue. One of the first most persuasive books was Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by Harriet Breecher Stowe in 1852.
Stowe’s purpose was to show the evils of slavery and why it is wrong. The book was about a slave named Uncle Tom who lives with his family but is eventually sold away to the cruel Simon Legree who eventually whips Tom to death (Document C). The North loved the piece of work and it was very popular. In the South, the book was banned and very much disliked. This created a more dividing point within the North and South since the south was becoming more angered by the Northerners actions and the North was becoming more against the issue of Slavery. Then, Hinton R. Helper wrote The Impending Crisis of the South in 1857.
His purpose was to attempt to prove by an array of statistics that indirectly the nonslaveholding whites were the ones who suffered most from the millstone of slavery. The South also banned his book and would hold book-burning parties since they were so aggravated about it. In the North, Republicans used it as campaign literature and many copies were sold. This made the South not want to be a part of the Union more because they were becoming sick of the “lies” told. Lastly, Cannibals All written by George Fitzhugh condemned the living conditions of the Northern Industrial workers.
This made the south feel that slavery was okay since they took care of their slaves providing them food, clothing, and shelter. This would make the slavery issue more undecided since it seemed humanely correct. It would create a more difficult way to compromise since they all knew it was wrong, but there were also rights of it. The literature made the compromise almost impossible to be agreed upon since the reasons were so indecisive towards if slavery was correct or wrong. Another issue also created stir in the country and that was Harper’s Ferry.
Harper’s Ferry was when John Brown captured an idea of arming and freeing slaves. He thought slaves would help, but he was wrong. He fought with the army, captured, tried, and hung. The North condemned the violence but the South did not believe them and saw Brown’s raids as final proof the North’s true intentions, to use slave revolts to destroy the south. This showed that there would not be any more compromise to go over since the South felt they knew exactly what was happening and wouldn’t take anything for an answer. The countries people were fighting and there was nothing to do.
On the other hand, politicians were in an uproar on what should be done and could not come to a solution for anything. The government had become divided into two over the problems that were being started in the country. One of the first incidents was the Kansas-Nebraska Act created by Stephen A. Douglas. The territory of Nebraska would be sliced into two territories, Kansas and Nebraska. Their slavery status would be decided over popular sovereignty. Kansas would be a slaveholding state since it was west of Missouri. Then Nebraska would be a free state since it was west of Iowa.
But, there was many political issues revolving this. The Missouri Compromise had earlier forbidden slavery in the north of the 36°30’ line and the only way for this to go through was to repeal it (Document E). Then, this would destroy the meaning of the Compromise of 1850. Douglas had also told of this position in his Freeport Doctrine that said the only laws that will be enforced are those that locals are willing to enforce regarding slavery. Northerners did not want the Missouri Compromise repealed since it was so sacred to them and the free-soil members of Congress struck back.
But, there was a strong support from the Southerners in Congress which allowed it to pass. This created a division in the government since they were all divided on the issue, but there was always a dominate group which there should not be in the government. There was now no more compromising, just whoever won the battle. The Democrats with Douglas also rejected the Lecompton Constitution along with Republicans that was written by proslavery people in Kansas for its statehood. Also, proving that there was still many diversions in the government since there were antislavery and proslavery people within the government. Bleeding Kansas” also created a huge political issue. In “Bleeding Kansas,” many pro and antislavery people began fighting in the territory of Kansas and were moving to influence which way the area would go slavery wise. There were many antislavery settlers, but many proslavery also. The New England Emigrant Aid Society was paying for the transportation of antislavery settlers to Kansas. John Brown killed several people during the raids. In response to this event, Senator Charles Sumner delivered a speech called “The Crime Against Kansas” which would make him the most disliked man in the Senate.
He bashed the proslavery men fighting in this speech and insulted South Carolina referring to Senator Andrew Butler who was one of the best liked in the Senate. This created uproar in politics. One of the most hot-tempered Congressmen Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina took it into his own hands. On May 22, 1856, he went to Sumner at his senate desk and beat him with his eleven-ounce cane until it broke leaving Sumner bleeding and unconscious on the floor since he did not wish to kill him (Document I). The senate members that were nearby did not interfere.
These two issues became joined politically. This shows how the senate was beginning to fall apart along with the rest of the government since no one liked each other or could agree upon an issue. Slavery was tearing everyone apart and was creating a huge division in the country that would make it very hard to stay together. The Dred Scott case also created high tensions in the government. The Dred Scott Decision was almost contradicting everything decided before and proved many things. A slave was brought to free soil by his owner Sandford and he was suing for his freedom.
The court ruled that slaves were not citizens and did not have rights in order to sue. This had been considered right by Chief Justice Roger Zaney since the framers of the constitution did not intend people of African descent to be U. S. citizens. Then, Congress did not have the right to deprive any person property without due process of law, and if slaves were property than Congress could not exclude slavery from any federal territory (Document J). Also, it was declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. It was a major win for the proslavery forces.
This meant that the Compromise of 1850 was unconstitutional all along. This decision created a wedge in the northern and southern wings of the once-united Democratic Party. Northern Democrats were terrified by this but the southern Democrats were fine with it. This would create a division in the political parties in the government themselves creating more of a disagreement where nothing could be compromised any longer. In addition, the South became superior economically and felt they didn’t need the help from anyone else.
The North and South always used each other for the goods they could give to each other. The south had the farms and the cotton as the North had the factories. In 1855, James Henry Hammond delivered a speech called Cotton is King. In this speech, he explained how the South was superior since they made the cotton that everyone needed. He felt that everyone relied on the South for the economy to grow. This would create a division in the country economically since the South felt superior over the North and that they did not need them in order to gain the money they need.
Also, the Panic of 1857 created a serious drop in prices for Midwestern farmers and increased unemployment in northern cities. Cotton prices remained high so southerners thought they didn’t need northern economy. The North’s economy was low as the South’s was high. This situation created a larger gap between the Union since the South felt even more superior over them by this and the North became scared that they would now feel as if they did not need to stay a part of the country in order to be well off.
The South did not want to deal with the North anymore and felt they would be better off without them in all ways. The events that occurred in the Union at this time created a huge gap in America. The North and South were more divided than ever before. They could not come to a compromise on anything. Socially, everyone could not agree on what should be done with any situation. Politically, the government could not come to a solution of the slavery situation. And economically, the South felt they were superior over the North creating hostilities between them.
Eventually, the South could not take it anymore after the Election of 1860 that elected President Abraham Lincoln. They felt it was their wake up call to secede from the country even though in Lincoln’s inaugural address he professed that he did not wish to get rid of slavery (Document K). All these events had made the South and everyone else reach their boiling point, which started the Civil War in 1861. The country could not do anything but argue with each other, there were no more compromises to be made. This countries only compromise was to start the Civil War and try to do something to keep the Union together.