Cause of the Civil War

By: Mickala Stoff

Missouri Compromise (1820)

The Missouri Compromise was a compromise that allowed Missouri enter the Union. This Compromise was made by Henry Clay. It was first said that Missouri couldn’t enter the Union because it would break the equality of free and slave states. Sectionalism was the reason for all of this happening and why the Missouri Compromise was formed. As Missouri entered the Union as a slave state, Maine entered as a free state to keep the equality of the free and slave states. Now there was a law that if there was any state that formed above the 36,30’ line then it would be a free state. Any state formed under the 36,30’ line would be a slave state.

Compromise of 1850

Henry Clay introduced the Compromise of 1850. There was five parts to this Compromise. California got this Compromise started and got rid of the Missouri Compromise. Since the Missouri Compromise was no longer able to provide the US it’s free and slave state equality. The slave and free states were now determined by the people in the state and whether or not they wanted to be a slave state or a free state. The Fugitive Slave Act was tightened because of the Compromise.

Fugitive Slave Act (1850)

The Fugitive Slave Act was already in existence, but was improved in 1850 because of the Compromise of 1850. People who hid or helped runaway slaves, would get put in prison for six months. Slave owners were allowed to come into the North and retrieve their slaves as their property. The Northerners disliked the idea of trial without jury for the slaves. Most of the northerners opposed the Act and Abolitionists used force while trying to rescue slaves from jail.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published (1852)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stowe’s novel was inspired by slavery and the harms of it. The novel mainly was about runaway slaves and what she had experienced when she lived in Ohio with her husband. Their house had been a stop for the Underground Railroad that was meant for runaway slaves. The novel was an antislavery novel. Within more than a decade of the novel being out it had already sold more than 2 million copies.

Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854)

In the Kansas-Nebraska Act, President Price expressed all of his hope that slavery was put to rest and never to be mentioned again. In less than a year, there was a request to build a railroad in the West and that helped slavery be brought back into the US. This had opened a new sectional conflict. Stephen Douglas had supported this and made a plan. The Southerners in Congress did not agree with his plan because his plan was recommending a southern route for the railroad. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a plan that had the leftover Louisiana Purchase territory into two. It allowed on the people on those territories to decide if they wanted to be a slave or free state. As this happened the new legislature has passed new strict laws that made it a crime to question slaveholders’ rights. Kansans made their own legislature and President Price only recognized the pro-slavery legislature.

Bleeding Kansas

In the early years as Kansas came into the Union, the population was very angry. Most of the committee members declared the election for the pro-slavery legislature was unfair. The federal government did not agree with them at all, they thought that the pro-slavery legislature was good. The people who were with the pro-slavery legislature got to own guns and the people who were anti slavery received weapon shipments from many friends in the East. A grand jury in Kansas charged leaders of the antislavery government with treason. The posse took all of its anger out of Lawrence by setting fires, looting buildings, and destroying presses used to print antislavery newspapers.

Dred Scott Decision (1857)

Dred Scott was a slave and he was a slave for an army surgeon named Dr. John Emerson. Scott sued for his freedom in 1846 in the Missouri courts. He argued to the courts that he had become free when he lived in free territory. A lower court had said that the nation’s founders believed that African Americans had no rights and therefore Dred Scott did not have the right to file suit in federal court. Taney had declared that the Missouri Compromise line 36,30’ was unconstitutional. He brought up the Fifth Amendment that stated in it “be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” This ruling stunned many northerners. Some northerners feared that the spread of slavery would not stop in the federal territories. Abraham Lincoln warned that a future court ruling would be called, “the next Dred Scott decision” and would prohibit states from banning slavery.

John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry (1859)

John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry began when he and his men took over the collection of weapons in hopes of starting a slave rebellion. He sent several of his men to the countryside to get slaves to join him in this rebellion. Instead of John Brown attacking, local white people attacked Brown. In a matter of seconds the next day, two more of John Brown’s men were killed. The rest of his men were captured including him. As expected, John was sentenced to be hanged. After his death, some abolitionists criticized his actions and many northerners mourned his death. The southerners felt threatened by all of his actions.

Election of 1860

The Election of 1860 was between Senator Stephen Douglas and John C. Breckinridge. The Constitutional Union Party was being made while the election was happening. The members of this party met in Baltimore and chose John Bell as their candidate. There were 183 electoral votes and Lincoln got 180 of those votes. Votes were split with Bell and Breckinridge. Douglas had the electoral votes and got the second highest yet only won one state.
Civil War Election of 1860

South Secedes (December 1860-June 1861)

People in the South believed their economy and way of life would end up getting destroyed. After Lincoln’s election, South Carolina’s legislature called for a convention. Some Southerners thought they had the right to leave the Union. Lincoln disagreed with the plan that was being made. He thought there would not be a compromise for the extension of slavery. Every Republican rejected the plan as Lincoln has requested them to do. Even though Lincoln believed the US citizens had the right to change their government through the majority consent. He opposed the idea of the southern states leaving the Union because they were unhappy with what the government says on slavery. He tried to convince southerners that his government would not cause war.
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Choose the BEST answer to the following questions

  1. Which two events were made by Henry Clay?
A. Bleeding Kansas and Missouri Compromise

B. Election of 1860 and Kansas-Nebraska Act

C. Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850

D. Compromise of 1850 and Dred Scott Decision

2. Who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin?

A. Dred Scott

B. Fredrick Douglas

C. John Brown

D. Harriett Beecher Stowe


The Civil War could not have been prevented. The North did not like the fact that the South had slaves in their possession. New territories were being made in the Union. Arguments were being made about which states would be free and slave states. Slaves fought for their freedom. Former slaves who had ran away helped other slaves escape from their owners and go live in the free states. It wasn't till a new president was going to be picked that things started to change dramatically.