The Compromise of 1850 was a set of bills passed in Congress which tried to settle the issue of slavery, which was about to split the nation. The legislation was highly controversial and it was only passed after a long series of battles on Capitol Hill. It was destined to be unpopular, as just about every part of the nation found something to dislike about its provisions. Yet the Compromise of 1850 served its purpose. For a time it kept the Union from splitting, and it essentially delayed the outbreak of the Civil War for a decade. Henry Clay, who had come out of retirement and was serving as a senator from Kentucky, put together a group of five separate bills as an "omnibus bill" which became known as the Compromise of 1850. The final version of the compromise had 5 major effects which was: California was admitted as a free state, territories of New Mexico and Utah were given the option of legalizing slavery, the border between Texas and New Mexico was fixed, a stronger fugitive slave law was enacted, and the slave trade was abolished in the District of Columbia, though slavery remained legal. The Compromise of 1850 did accomplish what was intended at the time, as it held the Union together. But it was bound to be a temporary solution.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was an American abolitionist and novelist who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, one of the most influential books in American history. In writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriett Beecher Stowe had a deliberate goal: she wanted to portray the evils of slavery so a large part of the American public could easily relate to the issue. The action in the book begins with a plantation owner mired in debt making arrangements to sell some of his slaves. As the plot proceeds, some escaped slaves risk their lives trying to get to Canada. And the slave Uncle Tom, a noble character in the novel, is sold repeatedly, eventually falling into the hands of Simon Legree, a notorious drunkard and sadist. who treated him poorly. In the north this book portrayed the harsh conditions of the slave life and was heavily influential in the shaping of their mindsets about slavery. But in the South, as might be expected, it was bitterly denounced, and in some states it was actually illegal to possess a copy of the book. In southern newspapers Harriet Beecher Stowe was regularly portrayed as a liar and a villain, and feelings about her book no doubt helped to harden feelings against the North. There is little doubt that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel helped to move anti-slavery feeling in the North beyond the relatively small circle of abolitionists to a more general audience. So while it would be correct to say that Harriet Beecher Stowe and her novel caused the Civil War, her writing also delivered the political impact she intended.
The Kansas and Nebraska Act of 1854 may have been the single most significant event leading to the Civil War. By the early 1850's settlers and entrepreneurs wanted to move into the area now known as Nebraska. However, until the area was organized as a territory, settlers would not move there because they could not legally hold a claim on the land. The southern states' representatives in Congress were in no hurry to permit a Nebraska territory because the land lay north of the 36°30' line where slavery had been outlawed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Just when things