Slavery and the Civil War

Slavery and the Civil War

Causes of Slavery-Related Conflicts

  • Missouri Compromise: The 1820 deal allowed Maine to join as a free state, Missouri as a slave state. It maintained balance but showed the growing tension.
  • Compromise of 1850: This salved tensions temporarily allowing California to join as a free state, permitting Utah and New Mexico to decide on slavery, and ending slave trade in D.C.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act: The 1854 act allowed these states to decide by ‘popular sovereignty’, igniting violent pro/anti-slavery clashes (referred to as ‘Bleeding Kansas’).

Abolitionist Movement

  • American Anti-Slavery Society: Founded in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan, challenged the institution of slavery directly.
  • Underground Railroad: A network of safe houses and guides (Quakers, free blacks, etc.) helped slaves escape, fuelled by brave figures like Harriet Tubman.
  • Frederick Douglass: A former slave, Douglass became a powerful abolitionist speaker, challenging racial inequality.
  • John Brown’s Raid: In 1859, John Brown led an unsuccessful revolt against a federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, viewed as a martyr by the abolitionists.

Civil War

  • Election of Abraham Lincoln: His anti-expansion of slavery stance ignited the secession of seven Southern states, forming the Confederacy.
  • Battle of Fort Sumter: April 1861, Confederate forces attacked this South Carolina fort, marking the start of the Civil War.
  • Emancipation Proclamation: In 1862, Lincoln declared freedom for slaves in Confederate-held territory, changing the war’s moral dimension.
  • Important Battles: Key battles include Antietam (1862- bloodiest single-day battle), Gettysburg (1863- Turning point), Vicksburg (1863- North gained control of Mississippi River).
  • Appomattox Court House: General Lee surrendered to General Grant in 1865, effectively ending the Civil War.

Post-War Changes

  • 13th Amendment: Following the war’s end, this 1865 amendment abolished slavery throughout the U.S.
  • 14th Amendment: This 1868 amendment granted citizenship to everyone born in the U.S., including former slaves.
  • Reconstruction Era: The 1865-1877 era aimed to reintegrate the South and secure rights for former slaves but faced significant resistance from the white southern society.
  • 15th Amendment: Ratified in 1870, it granted African American men the right to vote, but it was undermined by discriminatory practices like poll taxes and literacy tests.