Break down of compromise between 1820 and 1860 leading to the civil war
Time periods of American history are analyzed closely to the extent that it is essential to understand the motives and basis for future events and to recognize social patterns. Among events that have affected the United States, immigrations, wars and political dispute are three of the chief categories that most directly affect the state of the nation as well as each other. The war class has been easily liked to both political and social changes in the domestic atmosphere and is therefore subject to analysis of the varying origins and causes.
And no other war has affected the United States like the Civil War due to the sheer number of deaths and the complete reconstruction of the nation during the aftermath. Just as important as the war itself would be the transformations that took place among the people was a newfound lack of compromise concerning the admission of new territories and whether or not they would be free or slave. This failure to agree was chiefly the fear of public and congressional imbalance.
This and dispute over the legitimacy and abuse of popular sovereignty would cause quarrels and accusations attributed to the constitutionality of documents passed and the course certain events took, mainly, the Missouri Compromise, the South Carolina Nullification Crisis, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Presidential election of 1860, the main contributors to the breakdown of compromise seen in this era. In the years leading up to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, tensions began to rise between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions within the U. S. Congress and across the country.
They reached a boiling point after Missouri’s 1819 request for admission to the Union as a slave state, which threatened to upset the delicate balance between slave states and free states. In order to maintain peace, Congress created a two-part compromise, which granted Missouri’s request but also admitted Maine as a free state. Congress also passed an amendment that drew an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory, establishing a boundary between free and slave regions that remained the law for decades. This demonstrated a great deal of bias and false senses of self-righteousness from both sides of the argument as they intended to hide their greed for political power behind the morality of slavery, with the exception of the radical American Anti-Slavery society who called for immediate emancipation such as in Document B. This was especially displayed by the fact that Congress refused to consider any petitions during the 1830s that related to the subject of slavery showing complete disregard for the issue they presently hid behind, as seen in Document C, written by the House of Representatives.
In 1854 the Missouri Compromise was repealed as part of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. At the time, debates were occurring over where the transcontinental railroad would run and Illinois senator Stephen Douglass desired it to run through Chicago for which he would need Southern support. The deal struck would leave the position regarding abolition in Kansas and Nebraska up to popular sovereignty, which only angered both sides, and further divided them among sectional lines. The Brooks-Sumner affair especially demonstrated the contribution that the Kansas-Nebraska Act made toward lack of compromise.
Southerner Andrew Butler was deeply offended when Charles Sumner denounced the “crime against Kansas” and Butler’s cousin Preston Brooks beat him horribly with his cane. This made the north out to be innocent supporters of the martyr and the south to be violent haters of compromise. Document E was most likely drawn by a northerner as the assailant is drawn as barbaric and violent while Sumner is defending himself with only his pen, showing he is the more sensible and logical. This illustrates how compromise wouldn’t be reached until blood was shed, or until the Civil War was over.
The reasons for why compromise broke down as a result of the South Carolina Nullification Crisis are routed in the fact that the North was mainly industrial while the South remained agricultural. In 1828, Congress passed a high protective tariff that infuriated the southern states because they felt it only benefited the industrialized North. For example, a high tariff on imports increased the cost of British textiles, which benefited American producers of cloth but shrunk English demand for southern raw cotton and increased the final cost of finished goods to American buyers.
This tax and others resulted in the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification where the South attempted to nullify the tariff, thereby breaking federal law. President Jackson rightly regarded this states’ rights challenge as so serious that he asked Congress to enact legislation permitting him to use federal troops to enforce federal laws in the face of nullification. Fortunately, an armed confrontation was avoided when Congress led by the efforts of Henry Clay, revised the tariff with a compromise bill.
As seen in Document A, Clay attempted to lighten the severity of what South Carolina had done by imposing that South Carolina hadn’t ever attempted to secede. This statement is clearly subject to a bias examination, as it seemed he meant to protect primarily the first southern bastion of a war from demolition, as he himself was a southern Democratic-Republican. The effects of this entailed Southerners questioning whether Jackson and the democrats really represented Southern interests.
The further sectional division made the South more united as they found a common enemy in the northern states. The tipping point and the ultimate break of compromise between the North and the South was the election of 1860 as in the years leading up to it, the raids of John Brown on southern plantations brought the question of slavery into serious debate. Four candidates were nominated. The Republican Party, which fielded its first candidate in 1856, was opposed to the expansion of slavery.
Abraham Lincoln, the party’s nominee in 1860, was seen as a moderate on slavery, but Southerners feared that his election would lead to its demise, and vowed to leave the Union if he was elected. As noted in Document F, the southerners held the value of slavery as essential to their way of life and viewed the northern states as a “conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, and moon struck theorists. ” Lincoln proposed in his speeches that the whole agitation that had to do with slavery spawned from biased and power-hungry politicians as distinguished in Document G.
Lincoln’s bias however was neutral as is the reason for his perspective on slavery originating in terms not of morality, but of his view on the supposedly corrupt politicians on both sides of the slavery argument. As he was the candidate closest to the emancipation end of the political spectrum, (despite John Bell), he was viewed by the south as an African-American himself noted in such cartoons such as “Abraham Afrikanus. ” The Democratic Party split during their April convention, and the Southern delegation walked out in protest against the party’s failure to endorse a federal slave code for western territories.
Northern Democrats reconvened in Baltimore, where they nominated Stephen Douglas, while the Southern faction of the party held their own convention in Richmond and nominated Vice President John Breckenridge for president. The Constitutional Union Party, a moderate party composed of former Whigs and remnants of the Know-Nothings and other groups in the South, organized just before the election of 1860 and nominated John Bell. Bell carried Virginia and Breckinridge had the most votes in western Virginia.
Lincoln won the election without carrying a single Southern state, the limited support he received in Virginia coming almost exclusively in the Northern panhandle as seen in document H. Almost immediately following his election, Southern states began withdrawing from the Union, setting the stage for a civil war and the creation of a new state. These events concerning the Missouri Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska Act, South Carolina Nullification Crisis and the Election of 1860 are the prime contributing factors to the breakdown of compromise in the years leading up to the Civil was.
The factors of corrupt and biased politicians and the choices they made created a social division that became less and less economically oriented and more in regard to the issue of slavery. However, ultimately it was necessary for there to be a war to decide the fate of the United States, as the decision rested upon the people voting into office a new candidate and the most sensible course of action taken was a full fledged secession of southern states and an invasion by the North.
The fighting would be quelled just as any other war would, however what distinguished this among other wars was the sheer grisliness of the combat and the number of lives lost. Dispute still resonates about the necessity and morality of the war, but the majority still views it as an essential American miscarriage that outlined the views and ethics of our people at the time.