Events That Led Up to the Civil War

Why the Civil War Started

The Compromise of 1850

This compromise was made to keep the Union and the Confederate States happy. The compromise let slaves to work for the Southern States but discontinued the slave trade in Washington D.C. (District of Columbia).

With this compromise, many things came to, action. In this compromise, the state of California was to be made a free state instead of a slave one. But if that upset the balance of the Southern and Northern states, it wouldn't be allowed. So they still had some work to be done. The next law included Texas. Since Texas lost land that was part of New Mexico, the state got $10,000,000 (ten million dollars) in trade for it's loss. With this money, Texas payed off most of the debt. Lastly, the new Fugitive Slave Act was passed.

But you'll hear more about that later.

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The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Act was part of a group of laws/acts in the Compromise of This law made the North return the slaves that ran away from their owners. These slaves fled two northern or free parts of Canada.

This law was made so Southerns could have a strong hold on their slaves. This law is called the 'Fugitive' Slave Act because any slave that is a few miles from its owner/plantation is considered a fugitive slave. Fugitive means to have taken flight; to run away. The upside for the Northern States is that the slave owners needed to show the paperwork that showed their ownership in slaves. If they didn't have the paperwork they couldn't keep the slaves and the slaves became free.

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The Dredd Scott Decision of 1857

Dred Scott was a slave and he moved with his owner, an officer from the U.S. army, to free territory. His master was ordered by the Army to go back to the slave state where the owner died. Later, Scott tried to buy his freedom but was refused.

The slave Dred Scott traveled with his owner, Peter Blow (an officer of the U.S. army), from the slave state of Missouri, the free state of Illinois, to the free territory of Wisconsin. A little later, his owner passed away when they moved back to Missouri and then Dr. John Emerson took over. Who later took Scott to the free sate of Illinois where Scott met and married Harriet Robinson. When in the free state, Dred Scott never made his claim for freedom, maybe because he never realized or that he was happy with his owner. Only after Emerson died Scott wanted to get freedom for his wife and himself. Scott tried to get his freedom because he had lived on free soil for such a long time, but he was turned down. After this, he went to the courts. He hired hired a lawyer, an abolitionist. An abolitionist is a lawyer that works for anti-slavery causes.

Dred Scott went to his first trial on June, 1847. But he lost because he couldn't prove tat he and Harriet were slaves of Mrs. Emerson. In an 1850 retrial, the St. Louis Court ruled in favor of Scott and Harriet and called them free. The Missouri Supreme Court stepped in again two years later. They reversed the decision of the lower court. This continued for many years. Going back and forth. Finally, in March, 1857, the last decision was made. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney- a strong supporter of slavery- said that since Scott was black, he was not a true citizen of the U.S. and was not allowed to sue. This outcome infuriated many northerners and kept the southerners quite calm.

One of Peter Blow's sons, a friend of Scott, helped pay fees. And after the courts choice, one of Scott and Harriet's former owner's sons paid for their freedom.

Sadly, Dred Scott died only 9 months later.


The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

When the present-day states Nebraska and Kansas wanted to become part of the U.S. , in 1854, there were arguments of whether the states should join the Northern or Southern states. Stephen Douglas came with some laws on how they should be given. By popular sovereignty

Under the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the space above 36° 30' were part of the Northern states. Free of slavery (except for Missouri itself). With this young country growing larger and larger, many already knew that such a law could only keep peace for a limited amount of time.
A man named Stephen Douglas came around in the thick of things and introduced a new bill that would make things right. This new proposal attracted many Southerners. Below is what the act held:

  • The land many called the Nebraska Territory would be split into two different parts and called Nebraska and Kansas
  • How to decide whether the territories would be chosen by the regional house of representatives of the area or also called popular sovereignty

John Brown's Raid of 1859

As a child, John Brown made friends with a slave boy. As he grew older, he became to dislike slavery more and more. In adulthood, he did a lot of things to help slaves become free. Like helping the through the Underground Railroad, for example.

John Brown strongly opposed slavery and became an abolitionist. Many people in the North admired him and supported him. But people in the South however, were against his thoughts and wanted firmly to bring him down.

In the summer, October 16, 1859, he and a group of 29 men (including 5 blacks) had just raided the governments armory at Harpers Ferry, Where they were stopped by Bvt. Colonel Robert E. Lee and many marine and militia men. At the end of the battle, ten of Brown's people were killed and seven were captured, John Brown being among the captured.

After a long trial, it ended as Brown being hanged on December 2nd 1859.