Events Leading to the Civil War

By Marlon Schumacher

The Compromise of 1850

In 1850, after several drawbacks from the Three Fifths Compromise and the Missouri Compromise of 1820, U.S. senator Henry Clay and a few other senators created the Compromise of 1850. It stated that California is a free state, slave trade in Washington D.C. stops, Texas gains ten million dollars from the Union to make up for the loss of the New Mexico and Utah territories that they would lose, and the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. The Fugitive Slave Act involved all runaway slaves in the north being taken back to their owners in the south. What makes this compromise important to the Civil War is that it manged to temporarily keep the states together and hold off the Civil War for about ten years. But abolitionists and other people from the north didn't like the compromise and were more determined to free all slaves.

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was made as part of the Compromise of 1850. It forced the north to help catch and bring back all the runaway slaves from the south back to their owners. The importance of this law in the Civil War was that it angered many people in the north, especially abolitionists. Soon, abolitionists decided to stand and speak up and were determined to free all slaves. The law also inspired thousands of slaves to escape from their owners.

The Dred Scott Decision of 1857

Dred Scott was a slave that didn't like his widowed master, Mrs. Emerson, because she hired out Scott and his family to work for other families. Scott sued Mrs. Emerson for her actions and they went into court for eleven years, debating with Roger B. Taney over whether he should be free or not. In 1857, the Scotts lost the trial in a seven to two decision by the court; which angered the northerners. The Dred Scott Decision had the northern and southern states increase their arguments about slavery and was one of the causes that led to the Civil War. Along with the Civil War, the Dred Scott Decision helped lead to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act is a bill that became a law that says that the settlers of Kansas and Nebraska can decide whether to be free states or slave states. The northern and southern states had a huge debate about which state Kansas and Nebraska should be. In the end, both states became free states. But there was so much argument between the north and south, the southern states decided to separate from the north and become their own country. These led to several wars between the north and the south about Nebraska and Kansas called "Bloody Kansas", which was one step closer to the Civil War.

John Brown's Raid of 1859

On October 16, 1859, John Brown and an army of twenty men set off to Harper's Ferry to raid the U.S. Federal Arsenal to get some weapons for slaves to use when fighting for freedom. But he was surrounded the next day by the Marines, under command of lieutenant colonel Robert E. Lee. He was captured and hung in Charleston, Virginia on December 2, 1859. This moment reinforced the conflict between the north and south and made southerners worry about dramatic changes in lifestyle. He inspired many in the Union to continue fighting for freedom and was known as an abolitionist martyr (someone who dies for their cause).

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