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Civil War Events

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The Civil War was the bloodiest, most violent war in all of America's history. It pitted

brother against brother and father against son and caused more deaths than all of America's

wars before or since combined. The cause for the Civil War was not any single event or action,

but a combonation of many events and actions. It was a sort of snowball effect, but this

snowball had a rock in the center - slavery. Slavery was probably the largest single contributor

to the feelings of violence and hatred between the North and South. The other events that led

to the civil war are what really drove people over the edge, and some were more influential

than others.

The first of these was the Compromise of 1850. As a result of the United State's victory

in the Mexican War, it had acquired a vast territory. At the time, California was applying for

statehood, which proposed a grave problem to the government: keeping the balance of Slave and

Free states. Also coming into play were the Fugitive Slave Laws which had been vexing the

government for a long time. President Taylor was among a group that felt that accepting

California as a free state would not upset the balance of Slave/Free states in the Union and felt

that the South would not be inclined to withdraw from the Union, which was one of the biggest

fears among the government of the time. The Compromise proposed that states entering the

Union should be allowed to vote on the option of coming in as a Free or Slave state. This idea

became known as "Popular Sovereignty." The solution to the problems presented was devised

by Henry Clay. He thought that California should be entered into the Union as a free state and

all other incoming territories would vote. He also proposed more stringent Fugitive Slave Laws

and the banishment of slave trade from the District of Columbia. Last but not least included in

this compromise was the plan to settle the boundaries of Texas and assume its $10 million debt.

The next problem that led to the Civil war was the Dred Scott Decision. Dred Scott was

a black slave that lived for 5 years in Illinois with his master. He sued for his freedom based on

his prolonged stay on free soil. The Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that since Dred

Scott was a black slave, he was not a citizen and therefore not even allowed to sue. The Court

took the ruling further saying that since a slave was property, they could be taken into any

territory and be held there under the laws of slavery. The ruling was based on the 5th

ammendment which denied Congress the right to strip people of their property without due

process of law. Southerners were pleased with the victory in the case, but abolitionists all over

were horrified at the idea that slavery could legally spread anywhere in the country. Much

friction between the North and South was caused by this decision.

Another problem was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. When the territory of Nebraska was

proposed to enter the Union, more squabbling between the supporters of the North and South

broke out. Stephen Douglas proposed a solution. If they split the territory into two states,

Kansas and Nebraska, and allowed popular sovereignty to work its magic, then everything

would be fine and dandy. The only problem with this idea was that the proposed territory

entering the Union was above the 36 30' line that the Missouri Compromise had stated was

the boder for slave states. Most of the North was deeply opposed to this, and the south was

supporting it, so more boiling blood leading to the Civil War.

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry occurred

in October of 1859. Brown's goal was

to seize the federal arsenal in order to spark a slave uprising and try to end slavery. During the

battle for the arsenal, Brown's forces killed seven innocents, including a free black, and injured

about ten more. The slaves, on the most part, were unaware of Brown's attack and were not

able to start an uprising. John Brown and his followers were arrested by U.S. Marshalls under

the command of General Lee. John Brown was convicted of murder and treason and hanged.

The effect of this was to enrage the South even more and



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