Drifting Toward Disunion
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand. I Believe
This Government Cannot Endure Permanently Half
Slave And Half Free
Abraham Lincoln, 1858
*Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• published in 1852, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
• Stowe was dismayed by passage of the Fugitive Slave Act
• she wanted to write a book to illustrate to the North-the
evils of slavery.
• sold several hundred thousand copies in the 1st year-soon
millions were sold domestically & in other countries
(translated into 20 languages)
Effects of the Book
•The South- condemned the book& its author- “vile wretch
in petticoats”
•The North- Northerners swore never to help enforce the
Fugitive Slave Act
•Overseas- the book was popular in Britain & France (may
have prevented Britain & France from siding with the
The Impending Crisis of the South
• written by Hinton R. Helper (non-aristocrat from NC) in
• attempted to prove (with aid of statistics) that non-slave
holding whites were the ones who suffered indirectly from
• published in the North- widely read by Northerners
(distributed by Republican Party as campaign lit.)
• book was banned in the South- burned publically
• Southern aristocrats feared the non-slave holding
majority might abandon the cause.
The Contest for Kansas
• settlers flooded into Kansas under the promise of popular
• Most settlers were plain pioneers looking for land
• a small portion were financed by Northern abolitionists groups-like
The New England Emigrant Aid Society (sent 2000 people)-some
carried “Beecher Bibles”-named for Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.
• Southerners felt betrayed- felt outwitted by northern“Nebrascals”
trying to abolitionize Kansas & Nebraska.
•Pro-slavery Southerners began to pour into Kansas to help Kansas
slave owners—few brought their slaves with them
• 1860 Census- showed only 2 slaves in Kansas territory & only 15 in
Competing Governments Emerge
1855- a territorial legislature needed to be elected= pro-slavery men from Missouri
flooded in to vote (fraud)= set up their own government at Shawnee Mission.
Free-Soilers protested by setting up their own government in
Topeka, Kansas.
The Sacking of Lawrence
• 1856- a gang of pro-slavery raiders shot up & burned part of
the free-soil town of Lawrence, Kansas.
Pottawatomie Creek Massacre
• May 1856- Abolitionist John Brown led followers & hacked to
death five alleged pro-slavery men as revenge for Lawrence=
tarnished the pro-slavery cause & brought about proslavery
• John Brown (obsessed abolitionist) “Old Brown”- moved to
Kansas from Ohio with part of his large family
**Bleeding Kansas OR Bloody Kansas
A territorial civil war broke out in Kansas in 1856 & would continue
on & off until it merged with the Civil War in 1861-1865.
• destroyed millions in property, paralyzed agriculture, cost many
The Lecompton Constitution
• 1857- Kansas had enough people (mainly free-soilers) to apply for
statehood- using the principle of popular sovereignty.
• Proslavery forces drew up a tricky constitution- Lecompton
• people were not allowed to vote for or against the constitution as
a whole- they had to vote for the constitution either “with slavery”
or “without slavery”
• a vote against slavery meant a provision would protect Kansas
slave owners= allowing slavery in Kansas ANYWAY!
• Free-soilers boycotted the vote= proslavery forces approved the
constitution with slavery
Reaction to the Lecompton Controversy
• President Buchanan supported the constitution
• Sen. Stephen Douglas was appalled by this adulterated
popular sovereignty= fought for a compromise- submit the
entire Lecompton Constitution for to a popular vote.
• Free-soilers stampeded the polls & voted the proslavery
constitution down.
•Kansas remained a territory until 1861
** Pres. Buchanan’s approval of Lecompton splintered the
Democrat Party (the only national party left) = last strand that
had kept the country bound.
“Bully Brooks” Bloodies Sumner
1856- US Senate- Charles Sumner (of Mass.-most disliked) gave a speech
reacting to Lecompton Constitution.
•Speech: “The Crime Against Kansas”- Sumner condemned proslavery men
& referred insults to SC Sen. Andrew Butler (best liked Senator).
• May 22, 1856- Congressman Preston Brooks (SC-cousin to Butler) caned
Sumner on the floor of the Senate until his cane broke.
• Brooks was hailed in the South as a hero; Sumner became a hero for
antislavery forces.
• Northerners were outraged by Brook’s actions; the South was angered by
Sumner’s speech & reaction in the North.
The Election of 1856
• Conducted while “bloody Kansas” continued
1. Democrats: met in Cincinnati- James Buchanan (Penn. Lawyer).
Mainly chosen because he had been in London during Kansas-Nebraska Act
passage- no taint.
• proved to be mediocre, irresolute, confused
• Platform: pro-popular sovereignty
2.The Republican Party: met in Philadelphia; leading Republican William
Seward decided not to run.
•Republicans chose Capt. John C. Fremont (explorer- “the Pathfinder”) –
had no political experience.
•Platform- against extension of slavery into territories
3. The American Party (Know-Nothings): nominated ex-president Millard
• anti-immigrant & anti-Catholic party
•Former Whigs also endorsed Fillmore
• American Party & Whigs cut into Republican votes
Election of 1856
Millard Fillmore
James Buchanan
1856 Election Campaign
• a mudslinging affair- Buchanan attacked because he was a
bachelor, Fremont was attacked for being illegitimate & possibly
•Election Outcome: Electoral College- 174 to 114 for Fremont,
• Popular Vote: Buchanan= 1,832,955 , Fremont= 1,339,932,
Fillmore= 871,731.
Why did the Republicans Lose the Election?
1. Fremont was not trusted
2. Southern “fire eaters” threatened that if Fremont (“Black
Republican”) were elected it was war on the South=
northerners voted for Buchanan.
* The Republican Party made a strong showing against the
Democrats & looked to 1860!
*The Dred Scott Supreme Court Case (1857)
1. the Supreme Court ruled that Scott was a black slave & therefore
not a citizen= could not sue in federal courts.
2. the court decided that a slave is private property & could be taken
into any territory & legally be held there as slave.
3.The Missouri Compromise (repealed 3 years earlier) had been
unconstitutional all along.
•Southerners were happy with the ruling
• Popular Sovereignty supporters were mystified
•Antislavery forces (esp. Republicans) were angered by the Dred Scot
case= insisted the ruling was an court opinion & was not binding.
•Southerners were angered about the defiance of Antislavery
The Panic of 1857
President Buchanan had something else to worry about in
addition to the vexing slavery questions.
• economic crisis erupted= psychologically disrupted the nation
•Cause: Gold coming out of California= inflated our currency, over
speculation in land & railroads
• Effects: 5,000 businesses failed in one year = unemployment
rose= hunger (“bread or death”)
•The North (grain growers) hardest hit; the South virtually
unaffected= led to delusion that Cotton was King.
1. Demand for a Homestead Act Grows
The North began to demand free farms of 160 acres from
government land.
Two groups opposed: Eastern Industrialists & The South.
* 1860-Congress passed a Homestead Act- Pres. Buchanan vetoed
2. Demand for Higher Tariffs
Tariff of 1857- passed a few months before the panic hit;
reduced tariffs by 20% (due to demands by Southerners).
* During the economic panic-the Northern manufacturers
blamed the lower tariff for their problems = wanted it
raised to protect them
** Protective Tariffs & land for the farm less will be
election issues for the Republicans in 1860.
The 1858 Illinois Senatorial Election
The Senate term for Dem. Stephen Douglas was about to
•Republicans decided to run Abraham Lincoln against
Abraham Lincoln
• a lanky (6’ feet 4” inches)
• Born: Kentucky 1809 to poor parents- log cabin
• Schooling: one year formal frontier school- mostly selfeducated
• veteran of the Black Hawk Indian war
• made a living as a rail splitter & became an Illinois lawyer
• suffered from melancholy ; told stories to diffuse situations
• married Mary Todd (from a wealthy slave owning Kentucky Family)
• Nickname: “Honest Abe” refused to take cases in which he would
have to suspend his conscience.
• Political Life: served term in Congress (1847-1849)
The Lincoln–Douglas Debates (1858)
Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of debates (7) from Aug. to
Oct. 1858.
• Douglas was known as a fierce & excellent debater
• Lincoln spoke in a high pitched voice & seemed ill at ease until he
broke into his arguments.
The Freeport Doctrine
•Most famous of the Lincoln-Douglas debates
•Held in Freeport, Ill.
• Lincoln’s question to Douglas: Suppose the people of a territory
should vote slavery down? The Supreme Court in the Dred Scott
had decreed that they could not. Who prevails? The Court or the
•Douglas’ answer: slavery would stay down if the people voted it
down= Freeport Doctrine
•Douglas defeated Lincoln for the Senate seat
•Lincoln emerged with more publicity in the north
•Lincoln and Douglas both running for the U.S.
Senate in Illinois.
•The debates were followed by the country because
both candidates were interested in running for the
Presidency in 1860.
•Slavery was the issue
•Lincoln stated: A House Divided against itself
cannot stand. Either we become one or the other.
•was against the expansion of slavery
•Douglas believed that slavery should be decided by
the people.
•Popular sovereignty
Chart/L&D Debates
Lincoln got Douglas to admit that Popular Sovereignty
could work against the expansion of slavery…..
Southerners would not support Douglas for the presidency
in 1860
• By winning in Illinois-Douglas hurt his chance for the presidency
• Douglas’s opposition to the Lecompton Constitution & defiance of
the Dred Scott court decision= Southern Democrats would leave the
party (and Union) before accepting him.
The Raid at Harper’s Ferry (1859)
John Brown planned to invade the South with followers, enlist slaves
to rise up, furnish them with weapons, & establish a free black state
• Funded by northern abolitionists
•#1 Objective: take the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in western
Virginia= to gain weapons.
Result: he seized the arsenal with 20 men & several blacks; killed 7
innocent people (one, a free black) & injured 10 more.
• Blacks failed to rise up
• a wounded Brown was captured by US Marines led by Lt. Robert E.
•Unsuccessful and captured by USMC under the
leadership of Robert E. Lee
•Put on trial for treason.
•Attacked a U.S.
depot in
Harper’s Ferry,
Virginia in Oct.
of 1859 to
weapons and
begin his slave
The Trial of John Brown
Brown got a legal but fast trial. His defense (insanity) was supported
by family & friends (13 relatives were insane)
• Brown was given the death sentence
• used the trial & sentence to highlight the abolitionist cause
• became a martyr for abolition
• last words: “this is a beautiful country”
Effects of Harper’s Ferry
• South: Brown was a murderer & treasonous, became convinced
that “murderous gang of abolitionists” wanted to murder them.
• concluded that all Northerners shared views of violent abolitionists
•Moderate Northerners: deplored Brown’s raid
•Abolitionists & Free-Soilers; angered at Brown’s execution.
•He was found guilty of treason and
sentenced to death.
•His last words were to this effect: “I
believe that the issue of slavery will
never be solved unless through the
shedding of blood.”
•Northerners thought of John Brown
as a martyr to the abolitionist cause.
•Southerners were terrified that if
John Brown almost got away with
this, there must be others like him in
the North who are willing to die to
end slavery.
•South’s outcome: To leave the U.S.
and start their own country.
Picture/J.Brown Hanging
Reading/Tubman on Brown
The Election of 1860
1. Democrats held two conventions- each time Southern
Democrats walked out= Northern Dems in Baltimore nominate
Stephen Douglas
Platform: for popular sovereignty & against obstruction of the
Fugitive Slave Law.
2.Southern Democrats met in Baltimore & nominated John C.
Breckenridge (moderate views from border state of Kentucky)
Platform: favored extension of slavery into the territories &
annexation of Cuba.
3. Constitutional Union Party : formed by a moderate group
who feared break up of the Union.
•consisted mainly of former Whigs & Know-Nothings
•Met in Baltimore to nominate John Bell (Tenn.)
4. Republicans: met in Chicago; William Seward (best known) &
Abraham Lincoln were top candidates.
• after 3 nomination ballots- Lincoln was chosen the nominee
Republican Platform: contained an appeal that pleased all
non-southern sections & groups.
• For Free-Soilers: no extension of slavery
• Northern Manufacturers: lower tariffs
• immigrants: no curtailment of rights
• Northwest: a Pacific railroad
• the West: internal improvements paid by the government
• for Farmers: free homesteads from the public domain
** Southerners stated that the election of “baboon” Lincoln would
lead to dissolution of the Union.
• Lincoln was no abolitionist
1860 Election Results & Reactions
Lincoln won (minority president) – 60% of voters had voted for
some other candidate.
• Lincoln was a sectional president- was not allowed on the ballot
in 10 Southern states= received no popular votes.
• 1860 Election was really 2 elections
Douglas- (12 electoral votes) campaigned for himself (unusual).
• drew votes from all sections & ranked second in popular vote
Breckenridge- candidate of Southern “Fire eaters” had fewer
votes in slave states than the combined strength of his
opponents-Douglas & Bell ( no strong sentiment for secession?)
Country is polarized
(divided) over the
issue of slavery.
Once Lincoln is
elected as president,
South Carolina will
secede from the U.S.
along with several
other Southern
•303 total
electoral votes
and 152 to win.
They will form the
Confederate States of
Election of 1860
1860 Election implications for the South
• still had a 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court
• Republicans did not control the Senate or House
• US government could not touch slavery without an amendment.–
slave states could veto any amendment.
Secessionitis Hits the South
•SC had threatened secession if Lincoln were elected
• Dec. 1860- a convention held at Charleston voted unanimously to
secede= 6 weeks later= 6 more southern states followed:
Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas
Later 4 more Southern states joined= 11 seceding states
•Feb. 1861- the original 7 seceding state’s delegates met in
Montgomery, Ala to create a government= The Confederate States of
• President of the Confederacy: Jefferson Davis
The “lame duck” crisis
• made the existing crisis worse
• Lincoln elected Nov. 1860 – would not take office until
March 4, 1861.
• 1933- 20th Amendment shortened this period by 10
• Pres. Buchanan is still the acting president as southern
states seceded.
• Buchanan- respecter of the Constitution did not believe
that the South could legally secede nor did it give him
authority to stop it.
• Buchanan could not use force- 15,000 US troops were
out west fighting Indians.
• Some Northerners still had hope for compromise
The Crittenden Compromise
• last ditch effort to save the Union
•developed by Sen. James Henry Crittenden
(Kentucky); a man chosen to fill the seat of Henry Clay.
• proposed a constitutional amendment: ban slavery in
territories north of the 36- 30 line but south of that line
it was given federal protection in all territories existing
or shall exist later (Cuba).
• future states (north & south) could come into the
Union free or slave- based on popular sovereignty.
• Southern slave supporters given full rights in
southern territories.
** Lincoln used the pocket veto on the proposal
Why did Southern States Leave the Union?
A variety of reasons all related to slavery.
• Political balance had tipped in favor of the North
• the Victory of the Republicans seemed to threaten
slave holding rights
• Northern interference: abolitionists, Underground
Railroad, John Brown’s Raid.
• Some southerners expected some Northerners to
oppose their secession
• Golden opportunity to stop being second to the
• Worldwide nationalism (Poland, Germany)
• Self-Determination – Dec. of Independence

Drifting Toward Disunion