Events Leading Up to Civil War

By: Wasif Siddiqui

Compromise of 1850

The United States was at unrest. Half wanted slavery while the other did not. The U.S received vast amounts of land after the Mexican/American war, and the U.S did not know whether these states were to be slave states or free states. So the U.S drew a balanced imaginary line right through the center of the U.S. Any new state entering the Union that was south of the imaginary line would join as a slave state, and any state north of the line would enter the Union as a free state. However the line had cut right through California, and when it wanted to join the union, people argued over whether it should join as a slave state or a free state. This led to the compromise of 1850. This compromise said that northern California would join as a free state, buying and selling slaves in Washington D.C was outlawed but you could still own a slave, and finally the land received from Mexico in the south was split into two states, and the people in these states could decide whether they wanted slavery or not. This is important because it made the North and South fight over whether these states should be a free state or a slave state, and made the tension between the North and the South greatly increase.

Fugitive Slave law of 1850

After the compromise of 1850 the South got a new law called the Fugitive Slave Law. This Law said that any slaves running away from the south to the north for freedom should be returned to their masters. Bounty hunters received a bounty for every slave they captured and returned. Anyone who didn't help a bounty hunter could be punished by LAW. This law is significant because it came across to the North as harsh, and unfair, making tension between the North and South increase.

Dred Scott Decision of 1857

Dred Scott was a slave, and his master was a military man. The master moved to Wisconsin which was a free state, and Dred lived there for a long period of time. One day his master moved back to his old slave state, and took Dred along with him. After they had reached the slave state, his master died. In 1846 Dred met abolitionist lawyers that helped him to sue for his freedom in court, because he had lived on free soil for a long period of time. Sadly in 1857 Dred had lost this lawsuit, because he was black and did not have the right to sue.

Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The U.S decided to give Kansas and Nebraska the choice to enter the Union with or without slavery. Because they could do this, southerners entered these states with there slaves, while many members of the Anti-Slavery Society also arrived. Henry Ward Beecher helped raise money to supply weapons to those that wanted to oppose slavery. This is important because it made the North and South fight over these states, making the concept of war more, and more likely.

John Browns Raid of 1859

John Brown was a man that STRONGLY opposed slavery. On October, 16, 1859 John Brown led 21 men to Harper's Ferry Virginia planning to seize all the weapons at the arsenal. This plan was corrupted by Robert E. Lee and his men who stopped Browns men and captured Brown himself. John Brown was hanged for his actions on December, 2, 1859. This was significant because it angered the North that John Brown was killed for his actions, and Northerners took this as "fuel" for the upcoming war.


  • Dred Scott v. Sandford. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • Fugitive Slave Act. Digital image. Father Theos Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • The Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850. Digital image. The Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • "Kansas-nebraska Act, 1855 Greeting Card." Fineartamerica. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.
  • The Act's Background: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Digital image.Causesofthecivilwar. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2013.