By Hayley Easter
Kansas Nebraska Act
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'. After the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, pro-slavery and anti-slavery supporters rushed in to settle Kansas 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 the results were not accepted by them. Anti-slavery forces were led by John Brown, the territory became known as "bleeding Kansas" because the death toll kept rising. President Pierce, supported the pro-slavery settlers, sent troops to stop the violence and disperse the anti-slavery legislature.
The battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point. Lee led many soldiers to fight but they were forced to retreat back to Virginia. On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
Dred Scott Case
Dred Scott v. Sandford was a landmark decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an enslaved African American man who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott's request. For only the second time in its history the Supreme Court ruled an Act of Congress to be unconstitutional.
In May and June of 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's armies converged on Vicksburg, investing the city and entrapping a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. John Pemberton. On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged siege operations. This was the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns of the war. With the loss of Pemberton's army and this vital stronghold on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in half. Grant's successes in the West boosted his reputation, leading ultimately to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Union armies.