Point of No Return Activity

Ellie Davidson and Inaara Malick


The Civil War of 1865 resulted after a long period of strife and tension between the nation as a result of a number of major events. While many events such as the War with Mexico led to initial tensions between the North and South, one event stood out the most: the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 represented the first point in time where there was an actual demise of a national organization (the Second Party System), causing a strife in the nation that could not be reversed.

PIcture: http://s.hswstatic.com/gif/civil-war-quiz-662x590.jpg

Counter Argument: War with Mexico (1846-1848)

The War with Mexico was not a point of no return because the it was so far back (almost 20 years prior) that it only created other problems that caused the Civil War. As said by Frederick Douglass in “A Negro View of the Mexican War,” the Southern “machiavelism” regarding the expansion of slavery in the War with Mexico already made a crack which could widen into a split. By comparing the War with Mexico to a crack, Douglass establishes that it is going to take a lot more for the Union to actually secede, thus proving how the War with Mexico was not a point of return that caused the Civil War. The War with Mexico was not a war over slavery, but a war motivated by expansionist ideals. The South wanted to expand their slave territory to promote their economy, but because the North was highly industrialized, they disagreed with the South’s methods. Additionally, the War with Mexico only continued the ideal of white superiority that had already persisted before and continued to persist after the War. As said in “My Confession,” Samuel Chamberlain, an American soldier, describes the cause of one of the massacres in the war as the murder of one white man belonging to the Arkansas Regiment. The violence of the Americans who believe in white superiority only continued as they strove to expand into new territories; the war only proved to be the first of many examples of this idea.

Source Citations:

Douglass, Frederick. "A Negro view of the Mexican War." EBSCOhost. 2009. Accessed November 17, 2015. <a href="http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=21212349&site=eds-live">A Negro view of the Mexican War.</a>

Chamberlain, Samuel. "My confession (atrocities during the Mexican/American war)." EBSCOhost. 2009. Accessed November 17, 2015. <a href="http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=21213200&site=eds-live">My confession (atrocities during the Mexican/American war).</a>

Picture: http://www.nps.gov/fosc/learn/historyculture/images/Dragoons-at-Buena-Vista.jpg

Big image

Main Argument: Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a turning point because it resulted in the formation of the Republican Party, a party that gained power and support from the majority of the nation. The Republican Party’s formation represented the demise of not only the Whig Party but also the Second Party System as a whole, something that definitely caused national tension.The idea of popular sovereignty as a deciding factor for slavery upset the North as it went against the Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850 by saying that technically this new territory may not be free. The northern Whigs opposed the bill, creating the Republican party, while the southern Whigs voted in favor of it and were swept into the Democratic Party. Thus, the Kansas-Nebraska Act highlighted party tensions and how the country remained divided between their stances regarding slavery. During the congressional debate over the bill, Sam Houston stated that the territories had no sovereign rights until they were added to the Union as states; only then can they decide if they are a free or slave state. He believed that although Congress had supervision over the territories’ actions until they became states, state governments exclusively had the right to determine the state’s stance towards slavery. As said in the official document of the act, it established that, even if the states were free territories, every free white male inhabitant over 21 possessed the right to vote in the elections. Even though these territories could be free depending on popular sovereignty, the original act did not make African American rights equal to those of whites as they were unable to vote in elections, thus causing irreversible tensions. As a result of the act's creation of popular sovereignty and limited voting rights for African American's, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 proved to be a point of no return as it could not prevent the division of the nation over these ideals.

Source Citations:

"Kansas-Nebraska Act." EBSCOhost. May 30, 1854. Accessed November 17, 2015.

<a href="http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=21212443&site=eds-live">Kansas-Nebraska Act</a>

“The Kansas-Nebraska Act.” U.S. History Online Textbook. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.ushistory.org/us/31a.asp

“Sam Houston on the Dangers of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill.” History Study Center. Accessed November 16, 2015. http://www.historystudycenter.com/search/displayHistoricalDocItem.do?QueryName=historicalDoc&ResultsID=150765317FB&SortType=relevance&fromPage=search&ItemNumber=1&QueryName=historicalDoc

Pictures: http://img.sparknotes.com/content/testprep/bookimgs/sat2/history/0001/KansasN0ebraska.gif



To conclude, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 proved to be the point of no return of the Civil War as it facilitated the demise of the Second National Party system over ideas such as popular sovereignty and voting rights, thus creating national tensions that were irreversible.