Renewing the Sectional Struggle summary study guide




Renewing the Sectional Struggle summary study guide


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Renewing the Sectional Struggle summary study guide

Ch 18 Renewing the Sectional Struggle, 1848-1854
Slavery too hot of an issue in Congress:
Both Whigs and Democrats avoided public discussion of slavery in order to maintain national unity
Mexican War resulted in internal issues in Congress over the balance of power based on slavery:
US victory over Mexico resulted in a renewed controversy over expansion and slavery in the territories, the
possible split within both the Whig and Democratic parties over slavery, the Mexican Cession of land,
& a rush of settlers following the discovery of gold in California
Debate over slavery and the Mexican Cession threatened a split of national politics along N-S sectional lines
Free Soil Party:
Free Soilers argued slavery b/c it would cause more costly white wage labor to wither away
Condemn slavery b/c it destroyed the chances of free white workers to rise to self employment
It competed with white wage labor
1848 Free Soil Party platform included opposition of slavery in the territories, support for the Wilmot Proviso,
free government homesteads for settlers, & Federal aid for internal improvements (infrastructure),
What about female suffrage?
Major support from those who favored high tariffs, wanted all of OR territory up to the 54° 40¢ line,
condemned slavery was immoral and destructive to white wage labor
Popular sovereignty – let the people vote/choose:
“Popular Sovereignty” – free soil or slavery determined by a vote of the people within a territory

  • Public liked it b/c it fit the democratic tradition of self-determination

1848 Election:
1848 election – Both Whigs and Democrats were silent on slavery as an issue

  • Both parties did focus on the personalities of the candidates
  • (Zachary Taylor –Whig, Lewis Cass – Democrat, Martin Van Buren – Free Soil)

General Zachary Taylor (Whig) wins in 1848 – same year that they find gold in them there hills! [of CA]:
Problem for Taylor’s administration – created turmoil – Gold discovery in CA 1848

  • b/c of slavery issue and application for statehood

California attracts the best & brightest:
Many people going to California were criminals (lawless men)
Southern Politics & Economics:
By 1850, the South was relatively well off politically and economically for the upper and middle classes
The Black Moses”:
Harriet Tubman – the “Black Moses” – famous “conductor” of the Underground RR

  • helped escapee/runaway slaves get through to Canada
  • Many slaves escaped to the North and Canada using the Underground RR

Underground RR:
1850 – South deeply worried about the Underground RR helping hundreds of slaves escaping every year &
California’s potential admission to the Union as a free state [see Compromise of 1850 below]
Could slaves purchase themselves/their own freedom?:
During the 1850s – slaves tended to gain their freedom most frequently (often) by self-purchase (manumission)
Calhoun’s impractical solution to the slavery issue:
John C. Calhoun’s plan to protect the South and preserve its ways was to have 2 presidents – 1 South & 1 North
Famous Northern Republican Upsets Abolitionists:
Daniel Webster’s Seventh of March Speech (1850) results - shift toward compromise w/ the South in the North

  • It urged reasonable concessions to the South (by the North)
  • It also brought vicious condemnation of Webster by abolitionists who thought he “sold out”

Republican idealists:
The Young Guard from the North – more interested in purging and purifying the Union than in compromise
William H. Seward – Young Guard – argued in Congress in 1850 that slavery should be excluded from the
territories b/c Christian legislators must obey God’s moral law or a “higher law” rather than the sacred
US Constitution
Southerners react to compromises:
Nashville Convention of 1850 – Southern leaders condemn compromises being worked out in Congress
Compromise of 1850:
Compromise of 1850
Taylor dies after blocking it, gets help from Taylor’s VP turned President, Millard Fillmore, supported it
Congress determined to allow “popular sovereignty” for MN & UT territories regarding slavery
North most upset over new Fugitive Slave Law/Act of 1850 Compromise
Fugitive Slave Law/Act – denied jury trials to runaways, fleeing slaves could not testify on their own
behalf, penalty for helping slaves escape was fine and/or imprisonment, higher payments for
officials who determine runaway slave ($10) versus freeman ($5), & What about requiring slaves
be returned from Canada?
In response, many N states passed “personal liberty laws” in response to Fugitive Slave Law/Act
The law/act was a tactical blunder for the South b/c N people reacted against it so strongly
Whigs die:
1852 – death of the Whig party – cause – slavery
Interesting & kind of weird history:
1850s – William Walker – American who took over Nicaragua to become a slave state – executed eventually
USA forces Japan to takethe carrot or the stick”:
Com. Matthew Perry – man who led fleet to Japan to force Japan to trade w/ USA in 1853
Southern slavers want Cuba:
Cuba and the USA in the 1850s
Southern expansionists like the idea of taking Cuba, protested heavily by Free Soilers
Southern expansionists want to annex Cuba, then controlled by Spain – why did they want it?
Sugar-rich productive economy, had a large population of enslaved blacks, could be carved into
several slave states for balance in Congress, particularly the Senate, & geographically close to
Florida, USA
Ostend Manifesto – offer to Spain for Cuba for $120 million & if Spain refuses, then USA justified to
take it by force if necessary
How to join the East & West?:
Most American leaders believed only way to keep new Pacific coast territories from breaking away from the
USA was with the building of a transcontinental RR
South argued for a southern route for a transcontinental RR would be easier to build and would run
through territories already organized compared to the Great Plains
(North pushed through northern route in 1862 when South was at war and not in Congress to object)
“The Little Giant” from Illinois & the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854:
Stephan A. Douglas – Congressman – wants Chicago to prosper
– advocates the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Proposes “popular sovereignty” for the two territories
KS-NB Act – required the repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (36°30¢ line for slavery)
He underestimated the depth of N opposition to the spread of slavery
Impact of KS-NB Act included enraged anti-slavery forces and abolitionists & lessening of the
prospect of compromises b/t the N & S in the future
Consequences of KS-NB Act included the splitting of the Democratic Party over slavery with the
N & W vs. the S & the demise of the Whig Party (1852) over the slavery controversy
(That helped lead to a new party – Republicans)  


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