History Paper 2

Submitted By SundayWise
Words: 1087
Pages: 5

Political Turmoil Leading up to the Civil War

The Civil War was a bloody, ruthless, and brutal war. The nation was divided after the Northerners and Southerners failed to find a long-term, peaceful resolution over the issue of slavery. Though there were a few attempts to come to a formal decision on the dispute, most politicians avoided the topic of slavery since it was such a controversial subject. The few laws that were passed regarding the issue of slavery were not accepted as a fair compromise by citizens. They were often repealed and deemed unconstitutional. During the years of 1815-1861, the political process began to decline in America, which led to the unconstitutional succession of the South, and the beginning of the Civil War. One of the first political decisions over the issue of slavery was the Missouri Compromise, which was passed in 1820 under the presidency of James Monroe. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery north of the 36°30’ parallel, and allowed slavery south of the parallel. Many citizens were unhappy with this compromise. Northerners saw it as a slaveholder victory, and Southerners feared that free blacks would fight to make slavery illegal in the South. With neither side completely satisfied, the political tension between Northerners and Southerners continued to increase. The Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854 officially repealed the Missouri Compromise. The bill was submitted to congress by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, who proposed that the Great Plains be divided into two territories, Kansas and Nebraska. He claimed that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and proposed that the states use popular sovereignty, which would allow registered voters in each territory that sought admission as a state to decide if slavery would be permitted. Northerners and abolitionists were outraged. They protested and begged the Southerners to withdraw the bill, but despite their protests the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed on March 3rd, 1854. The 1857 Dredd Scott Supreme Court case was another loss for the Northerners. Dredd Scott was a slave who was taken out of Virginia to Illinois, which was a free state. He took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, but they decided to deny freedom to Scott and his family. They claimed that no black person in the United States was granted any rights that the white man was bound to respect. Northerners feared that the reasoning behind the decision would eventually allow slavery in all territories, as well as the free states. Manifest Destiny was the idea that expansion of the United States by acquiring new territories was God’s will, and therefore their destiny. This played a large role in the Mexican-American war that occurred between 1846 and 1848. President James Polk sent troops through Texas and into territory claimed by Mexico. He claimed that Mexican troops attacked American soldiers, leading him to declare war; however, many Americans thought that he provoked the conflict, and that he declared war only to gain more territory. U.S. troops were successful in the war, and gained control over New Mexico, California, and moved the Texas-Mexican border from the Nueces River to the Rio Grande. The new territories were controversial, as it was unclear if they should be free or slave states. David Wilmot introduced the Wilmot Proviso in the House of Representatives in 1846, only a few months into the Mexican-American war. The Wilmot Proviso would prohibit slavery in any new territory that was acquired through the war. The proviso passed in the House of Representatives, but failed in the senate, which had a Southern majority. Southerners and Northerners both had very strong opinions on the fate of the newly acquired territories, which caused extreme tension between them.
Due to the rapidly growing population, in 1949 California applied for statehood without ever applying for territorial status. It had still not been decided if the