Sectionalism and the Doorstep to War
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Sectionalism and the Doorstep to War

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PowerPoint presentation covering the information leading to the Civil War. This is the last set of notes for the Antebellum Unit.

PowerPoint presentation covering the information leading to the Civil War. This is the last set of notes for the Antebellum Unit.

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  • The two-party system dealt with the slavery controversy in 1840s: <br /> Whigs avoided territorial expansion due to slavery issue <br /> Democrats supported expansion as long as free & slave states remained balanced <br /> But…sectionalism destroyed both parties in 1850s; lack of two-party system released sectional rivalries <br />
  • Douglas hoped expansion of West would bring railroads, Democratic Party cohesion, & a presidential nomination for himself in 1856 <br />
  • Show the students visually how the American political landscape moved from national to more sectional <br />
  • The resulting pro-slavery victory, led to <br />
  • Know Nothings are conservative anti-Democrats living in the South & northern Whigs who resisted joining Republicans <br />
  • % of slave owners in South decreasing from 30% to 25% in all slave states & 50% to 40% in Cotton Belt—planters viewed themselves as a shrinking minority who needed to protect their interests. <br />
  • Lincoln <br />


  • 1.  Essential Question: Question  Why did the sectional dispute between the North & South intensify beyond the ability to repair ?
  • 2.   As Americans expanded West in the 1840s, conflicts intensified between the North & the South regarding the issue of slavery But…the existence of two strong political parties (Democrats & Whigs) that were both popular in the North, South, & West helped keep America from splitting apart
  • 3.  The Constitution gave no definite authority to abolish slavery other than voluntary state action   Abolitionists knew it would be impossible to get enough votes to pass an amendment outlawing slavery But, northerners in Congress could forbid slavery in new states as they were added to the Union
  • 4.   The slavery issue in the West had been settled by the Missouri Compromise in 1820… But the new states added in the 1840s & 1850s led to problems:   Texas (slave state) balanced by Oregon (free territory) What about California & New Mexico? Both were south of the Missouri Compromise line
  • 5.   The Wilmot Proviso was presented by Northerners in 1846 to:  Ban all blacks (free & slave) from the Mexican Cession in order to preserve land for white farmers  Attempt to limit the perceived “proSouthern” Polk presidency The Wilmot Proviso did not pass in Congress but its debate revealed sectional (not party) divisions
  • 6.  Slavery in the West was a key issue in the Election of 1848:    Democrat Lewis Cass proposed popular sovereignty to allow territorial settlers (not Congress) to decide slavery in the West Whig candidate Zachary Taylor evaded the slavery issue The Free Soil Party was created by Northern abolitionists who nominated Martin Van Buren
  • 7. Taylor won the election, but Free Soilers did well in the
  • 8.  Southerners were mad when Taylor proposed admitting New Mexico & California as states    Popular sovereignty would make California a free state New Mexico had no slaves or a climate adequate for slavery John C Calhoun led the Nashville Convention to discuss Southern secession
  • 9. Webster: The North will never accept secession Calhoun: The South must protect slavery & will “peacefully” secede The Compromise of 1850 was the last debate of the “Great Triumvirate” Clay: We must compromise
  • 10. Ended the slave trade California was admitted in Washington DC as a free state (but not slavery) Taylor threatened to veto the compromise but his death in 1850 allowed VP Millard Fillmore to sign the Compromise of 1850 Popular sovereignty would decide slavery in Utah & New Mexico A stronger Fugitive Slave Law was created to appease the South
  • 11.  With slavery (temporarily) under wraps, the parties needed new issues for the election of 1852:   Whigs nominated Mexican War general Winfield Scott; Whigs had difficulty finding an issue Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce, claimed credit for national prosperity, & promised to defend the Compromise of 1850
  • 12.  The collapse of the Whigs allowed for the rise of the “Know-Nothings” (the American Party)    Fueled by nativism & a desire to reduce immigrant influence Hoped to strengthen the naturalization process to decrease immigrant voting Appealed to ex-Democrats, ex-Whigs, & industrial workers
  • 13.   In 1854, the American Party took control of state legislatures in New England, Maryland, Kentucky, & Texas; seemed on the verge of challenging the Democratic Party But, by 1856 the Know-Nothings collapsed due to a lack of experienced leadership & had no response to slavery (which was the REAL issue in America)
  • 14.  In 1854, Democrat Stephen Douglas hoped to organize the Kansas & Nebraska territories with the Kansas-Nebraska Act: Act The Missouri Compromise line was repealed & popular sovereignty was applied to slavery in Kansas & abolitionists were outraged NorthernNebraska  because it allowed slavery in an area Many Northerners were now convinced that compromise with the already impossible where slavery was South wasprohibited 
  • 15. Coalition of Whigs, Northern Democrats, The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 & Free-Soilers formed the Republican Party; became an exclusively Northern by 1856 The Kansas-Nebraska Act changed American politics & increased sectionalism Southern Whigs defected to the Democratic Party which became an exclusively Southern party
  • 16.  The Republican Party appealed to Northerners:    Believed in “free soil” & fought against a “slave power” scheme Vowed to protect free white workers & boost the economy Made up of seasoned politicians who effectively built up the power of the party by 1856
  • 17.   Manifest Destiny intensified sectional differences between the North & the South regarding slavery in the 1840s & early 1850s But…the sectional quarrel between the North & the South became “irreconcilable” in the mid-1850s, especially under James Buchanan (1857-1860)
  • 18.  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s account of slavery became the best selling book of the 19th century:   Uncle Tom’ Cabin depicted the harsh reality of slavery The book became a vital antislavery tool among abolitionists
  • 19.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) proposed popular sovereignty   The vote to determine slavery in Kansas turned into a bloody small-scale civil war Republicans benefited from the fighting by using “Bleeding Kansas” propaganda to support their anti-slave cause
  • 20. “Bleeding Sumner” SC Senator Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner because of a speech Sumner had made criticizing President Pierce & Southerners who supported the the proslavery violence in Kansas
  • 21.  1856 was the first clearly sectional presidential election in U.S. history     Republican John C. Frémont campaigned only in free states Know-Nothing Fillmore called for sectional compromise Democrat James Buchanan endorsed popular sovereignty & the Compromise of 1850 Buchanan beat Frémont in the North & beat Fillmore in the South
  • 22.   When Buchanan was elected, he wanted the Supreme Court to resolve the slavery question In Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), Taney & the Supreme Court ruled:   Dred Scott had no right to sue because blacks are not citizens Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in western territories so the Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional
  • 23.  In 1857, Kansas held an election for delegates to write a constitution & apply for statehood    A rigged election led to a pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution Buchanan tried to push Kansas’ admission through despite the fraud but Congress refused Kansas was made a free territory, not a slave state
  • 24.   Democrat Stephen Douglas ran against Republican Abraham Lincoln for the 1858 Illinois Senate In these Lincoln-Douglas debates:
  • 25.  John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, VA; he & 18 men planned to end slavery in the South by leading slave insurrections:   Brown was caught & executed, but he was perceived by many in the North to be a martyr Witch-hunts, vigilante groups, & talk of succession grew in South
  • 26. John Brown: Northern Martyr or Southern Villain?
  • 27.  Hinton Helper’s Impending Crisis of the South in 1859:   Helper was a white southerner who argued that slavery hurt the South & small farmers Southerners saw the book as a plot to rally yeoman against the elite & end slavery
  • 28.   The election of 1860 was the final straw for the South Republicans nominated Lincoln:    Illinois was a crucial swing-state Lincoln was seen as a self-made man who represented equality His platform of high tariffs for industry, free homesteads in the West, transcontinental railroad widened the party’s appeal
  • 29.  Democrats were fatally split:    Northern Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas who ran on a platform of popular sovereignty Southern Democrats nominated John Breckenridge who swore to protect slavery in the West Ex-Whigs & Know-Nothings formed the Constitutional Union Party & ran John Bell & on a compromise platform
  • 30. The 1860 Election: A Nation Coming Apart North: Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglass  During election, 4 nominees ran:     Republicans Douglas Democrats “Southern Rights” Democrats Constitutional Unionists Competed in North Competed in South South: Breckenridge vs. Bell
  • 31. Lincoln won & the South immediately launched a campaign for succession from the Union