Civil War


Presidency of James Monroe

4 Mar 1817 - 4 Mar 1825

Missouri Compromise

13 Feb 1819 - 18 Feb 1820

Basically the Missouri Compromise lead to two things:

  1. Maine was admitted to the Union in addition to Missouri, Missouri was allowed in as a slave state and Maine was allowed in as a free state, keeping the Union in balance and keeping the peace.

  2. Slavery was banned above the parallel 36°30′ north, or the southern border of Missouri, with the exception of Missouri. This meant that while Missouri could have slavery in the future, none of the territories that would in the future apply for statehood could.

Slavery was a huge issue at the time, Jefferson called it a ‘fire bell in the night,’ tensions were very high and Congress/Senate were desperately trying to find a way to resolve the issue peacefully.

Presidency of John Q. Adams

4 Mar 1825 - 4 Mar 1829

Presidency of Andrew Jackson

4 Mar 1829 - 4 Mar 1837

Presidency of Martin Van Buren

Mar 4 1837 - Mar 4 1841

Presidency of William H. Harrison

Mar 4 1841 - Apr 4 1841

Presidency of John Tyler

Apr 4 1841 - Mar 4 1845

Presidency of James K Polk

Mar 4 1845 - Mar 4 1849

Presidency of Zachary Taylor

Mar 4 1849 - July 9 1850

Taylor is remembered as an honest President, albeit one who was a political amateur. While Taylor was a slaveholder, he aimed to lead a compromise between the North and South, not lead to further sectional tension.

Taylor trusted Northern Senator William Seward more than he trusted Henry Clay, however, and of the two, Henry Clay was the one that looked more towards compromise, Seward was a strong anti-slavery proponent, which meant that Southerners were unhappy with Taylor's decisions.

Early in his Presidency, in 1849 Taylor encouraged New Mexico and California to frame their constitutions and apply for statehood as quickly as possible, hoping it would decrease sectionalism in the nation. He was confident that both states would vote for free state constitutions, which was good because he believed slavery's best chance of surviving was to stay in it's current borders. By letting New Mexico and California vote, he was also giving them the option of popular sovereignty, something that he realised the South might be able to incur in the future, protecting slavery where it was.

However Southerners were annoyed because they believed the were now being excluded from territory that they had helped to gain in the Mexican-American War. While some Southerners accepted that slavery could not exist in New Mexico or California, due to conditions and lack of cotton-farming, many believed there should be some territorial compensation to them if both states were to became free. In October 1849, Mississippi called for Southerners to adopt some form of resistance against Northern aggression.

Taylor, although from the South, increasingly sided with the North near to the end of his Presidency, he was annoyed at how unwilling to compromise the South were being in regards to the territories from the Mexican Cession, going as far as to say that were the Wilmot Proviso to reach his desk, he would sign the Bill, the threat of secession was too much for him to treat lightly.

Taylor died a year into his Presidency.

Presidency of Millard Fillimore

9 July 1850 - 4 Mar 1853

Presidency of Franklin Pierce

4 March 1853 - 4 March 1857

Presidency of James Buchanan

Mar 4 1857 - Mar 4 1861

Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Mar 4 1861 - Apr 15 1865

Civil War

April 12 1861 - May 10 1865

Presidency of Andrew Johnson

Apr 15 1865 - Mar 4 1869

Presidency of Ulysses. S Grant

Mar 4 1869 - Mar 4 1873

North/South Divide

Missouri Territory Applies for Statehood

13 Feb 1819 00:00:00 - 14 Feb 1819 00:00:00

Wilmot Proviso Defeated for Last Time

4 June 1848

David Wilmot was a Northern Democrat, who wasn't against slavery in essence, but was annoyed that US President Polk seemed to be favouring expansion of slave states over expansion of free states through gaining Oregon.

To reduce Southern influence, Wilmot had, in 1846, introduced the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery from any of the states that would be gained from the Mexican-American War. This passed the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate, which had greater Southern representation.

The third and final time the Wilmot Proviso was attempted to be passed was in 1848, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, where all Northern Whigs and most Northern Democrats supported its extension to all territory to be gained by the US in the future. However, again, it failed, but sectional conflict continued.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Divides America

4 July 1848

The Northern states and Northern politicians were very unhappy with this treaty, with popular Whig Intelligencer sarcastically saying 'We take nothing by conquest - thank God.' 14 Whigs in the Senate voted against the treaty.

In the South meanwhile, politicians were unhappy that the North had defeated former President Jefferson Davis's amendment that would have given America most of Northwestern Mexico in addition to the land it already gained. Southerners were annoyed that the North seemed to be trying to stop the South from gaining new slave states, while the North was annoyed it looked like the South was trying to increase its political influence in the Union.

Virginia Senator Mason Reads Calhooun Speech to Congress

4 March 1850

Calhoun says that should the North not stop hostilities, the South will have no option but to secede from the Union

Northern Whig Daniel Webster Puts Weight Behind 1850 Compromise

7 March 1850

Calhoun Dies

March 31 1850

First Nashville Conference in the South

June 3 1850 - June 11 1850

Delegates from nine slaves met at Nashville to decide on the best course of action should slavery be banned in the new territories.

'Fire-eaters' that pushed for secession were criticised, with moderates stating that the purpose of the meeting was to 'perpetuate' the Union, not break it up.

US President Zachary Taylor Dies

July 9 1850

Many politicians, such as Daniel Webster, believed that if Zachary Taylor had stayed in office, war was inevitable.

Taylor's successor, Millard Fillimore, although a Northerner, had sympathies with the South, and put his weight behind the 1850 Compromise.

Second Nashville Conference

November 1850

No outcome, but this time, the conference was dominated by extremists who called for secession, showing how unhappy the South was with the 1850 Compromise

Douglas Meets With Southern Whig Archibald Dixon

16 January 1854

Dixon had introduced an amendment to Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act, one that would repeal the part of the Missouri Compromise that states no slave states could exist above the state of Missouri.

Dixon's logic was that slaveholders would not want to settle in a territory if they didn't have a guarantee that slavery had been repealed or not.

Douglas, who had misgivings about it, gave into Dixon, he believed that Northerners would be able to understand and move forward from the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.

Southern Whigs at the time had been moving to look like strong defenders of slavery, as the Whigs had been hammered by Democrats on slavery issues for a long while now. Northern Whigs were weak, so the Southern Whigs took their chance and introduced and passed this amendment.

This amendment was what eventually lead to the breakup of the Whig Party, Northern Whigs and Southern Whigs split on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the party collapsed.

Appeal of the Independent Democrats Published

24 Jan 1854

Full name: Appeal of the Independent Democrats in Congress to the People of the United States.

Anti-slavery manifesto written and signed by a group of popular Northern politicians such as Salmon Chase and Charles Sumner.

The debate on the Kansas-Nebraska Act continued for months, with plenty of popular Northern politicians siding against it (William H. Seward and Salmon Chase, two of the most vocal, would go on to be important members of Lincoln's War Cabinet.

Pierce Makes Kansas-Nebraska Act 'Test of Loyalty' for Democrats

January 24 1854

Pierce had serious misgivings about the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, especially because only two members of his cabinet supported the repeal, one of them being War Secretary Jefferson Davis. Proponents of popular sovereignty like Lewis Cass even warned him about the political implications of his actions, and he tried to propose an alternative to Kansas-Nebraska.

However, it didn't hold up with the Senate Committee on Territories, they wanted the repeal straight away, not after a Supreme Court case. On the 22nd of January, the Kansas-Nebraska politicians met with Pierce and convinced him to make the Kansas-Nebraska Act an issue of party loyalty.

Election of Territorial Legislature in Kansas

March 30 1855

1100 Missourians crossed the Missouri-Kansas border to vote for a pro-slavery government in the newly formed territory.

Only one country in the entire state voted anti-slavery.

While technically this meant that slavery won in the state, all it did was cast doubt on the Southern victory, as Kansas would likely have voted pro-slavery anyway.

Tough pro-slavery laws were passed and Northerners were outraged.

Topeka Constitutional Convention

23 Oct 1855 - Jan 5 1858

Free-staters set up their own government in Topeka, setting up the Topeka Constitution, banning both slavery and the presence of a black person, slave or free, in Kansas.

While some were abolitionists, the majority were openly racist moderates.

The Topeka Constitution lead to a flurry of confused events:

  1. Free-state delegates pass the Topeka Constitution on the 15th of December, 1855.

  2. On January 15th, 1856, the election for officers and approval of the constitution is boycotted by pro-slavery men.

  3. Constitution forwarded to Washington with a plea to Congress to accept it.

  4. President Pierce condemns the Constitution, however it passes the House of Representatives by 2 votes. Is help up in Senate.

  5. Senate throws the issue back on the people of Kansas as per Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act.

  6. Free-State Convention again convenes, writes a new Constitution, that is again held up in Congress.

This was the first of four potential solutions to the Kansas crisis.

Bleeding Sumner

Approx. May 1856

A part of Bleeding Kansas, Republican Senator Charles Sumner is caned nearly to death by Southern Congressman Preston Brooks, over an issue of honour.

Bleeding Sumner offended Northerners more than Bleeding Kansas, Southerners were using violence to silence free speech, a right Americans held dearly, and instead of getting punished, Northerners watched Brooks become a hero of the South, dozens of Southerners sent rooks a new cane to replace the one he broke beating Sumner.

25% of Southern families own slaves

Approx. Jan 1 1860

10% of Northerners own 68% of the wealth in the North

Approx. Jan 1 1860

Figure is similar in the South.


Texas Revolution

2 Oct 1835 - 21 Apr 1836

Battle of Gonzales

2 Oct 1835

The Mexican government requested the return of a cannon they had loaned to white settlers in the city of Gonzales. The settlers refused and fired upon Mexican soldiers, who were forced to retreat. While there was no real military outcome, this event was considered the start of the Texas Revolution

Battle of the Alamo

23 Feb 1836 - 6 March 1836

Pivotal moment in the revolution. Settlers, after being besieged by Mexican forces for 13 days, were suddenly attacked by them. All 187 Texan defenders at the Alamo mission were killed.

This was regarded as a very cruel act by many Texans and Americans, and inspired many to join the Texian army.

The Battle of the Alamo drove the Texian Army to win the Battle of San Jacinto and effectively win the war and establish the independent state of Texas.

Battle of San Jacinto

21 Apr 1836

The fight was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution, it ended in only 18 minutes, with 630 Mexicans dead, almost 700 captured and the death of only 9 Texans.

The Texans had a battle cry of 'Remember the Alamo,' remembering the 187 that had died just a few weeks ago.

Thornton Affair in Nueces Strip

24 April 1846

When Polk realised that the Mexicans would not negotiate on selling their land, he devised a new strategy.

He moved a US patrol to just above the Rio Grande river, an area that was disputed territory as per the treaties of Velasco back in the Texan revolution. Mexico did not recognise these treaties and eventually attacked, kick-starting the Mexican-American war

Mexican-American War

April 25 1846 - Feb 2 1848

Happened after America annexed Texas, a territory Mexico still regarded as it's own.

Polk believed in Manifest Destiny and he made this clear, he wanted the territories of New Mexico and California. He tried buying them, so first he sent John Slidell off to Mexico with $30 million.

When this didn't work, Polk deliberately sent American soldiers to instigate a war with Mexico, he sent them just north of the Rio Grande river, and when Mexican soldiers retaliated, he asked Congress to declare war and they did.

America had a few main advantages over Mexico in the war, these included a stronger industrial base, with superior artillery small pool of well-trained junior officers from Wet Point, along with naval superiority and many enthusiastic Southern supporters.

American won the war and gained the territories of New Mexico and California. At one point, Polk had begun aiming for all of Mexico, but he realised that the Northerners would not support him.

After the war, General Zachary Taylor and General Winfield Scott were received home as American heroes. The war cost America $100 million and 13,000 casualties.

Battle of Paolo Alto

8 May 1846

Taylor victory, kills 102 Mexicans with only 5 Americans dead

Battle of Monterrey

21 September 1846 - 24 September 1846

Taylor victory, he was heavily criticised however for making peace with the Mexicans instead of, as President Polk put it, 'killing the enemy.'

Stephen Kearny Occupies State of New Mexico

22 September 1846

Establishes the government of New Mexico, Mexico doesn't recognise it yet.

Last Significant Body of Californios Surrender to American Forces

12 Jan 1847

The Americans had been lad by John Fremont, who is believed to have hurt the US war effort just as much as he helped it.

The Conquest of California was relatively bloodless, with little opposition from American settler and most Californios.

Battle of Buena Vista

22 February 1847 - 23 February 1847

Taylor's biggest claim to fame during the war, Taylor repelled a force of 15,000 Mexicans with only 5,000 men himself. This, along with his successes in Paolo Alto and Monterrey, made Taylor one of America's greatest hero when the war ended.

Battle for Mexico CIty

8 September 1847 - 15 September 1847

Series of small battles in and around Mexico City that culminated in the city falling on the 15th of September.

Propelled Winfield Scott to superstar status, the conquest was meant to be against 'unbeatable odds' such that when Scott actually won, he was called the 'greatest living general' by some of his peers.

After Winfield Scott won Mexico City, the Mexican-American War was practically over, America had won.


Congress Passes Missouri Territory Bill

17 Feb 1819 00:00:00 - 18 Feb 1819 00:00:00

Amendement banned slavery in Alabama, all slave children to be free by the age of 25. Knocked down by Senate.

Alabama joins Union

04 Dec 1819 00:00:00 - 15 Dec 1819 00:00:00

Number of slave states and free states now equal, complicating the Missouri issue

Maine Bill for Statehood Passing Through House

03 Jan 1820 00:00:00 - 04 Jan 1820 00:00:00

Missouri Compromise Passes Through Senate

17 Feb 1820 05:34:38 - 18 Feb 1820 05:34:38

Congress Passes 'Tariff of Abominations'

May 19 1828

The 1828 Tariff was designed to protect the Northern industrial economy.

The North was losing profits on cheaper foreign made goods, so Northern politicians put the tariff in place, however this was incredibly unpopular in the South as the South had to pay more money for goods and foreign countries had less money to pay for Southern cotton with as their goods weren't selling as much. As a result, it was called the 'Tariff of Abominations' in the South, and lead to the Nullification Crisis in 1832.

1832 Tariff Passed

July 14 1832

Written by former President John Q. Adams, was another tariff act, eventually lead to the Nullification Crisis

John Calhoun resigns Vice-Presidency to combat Tariff Acts

July 14 1832

John C Calhoun was the most influential Southern politician of his time.

Strong defender of slavery as something positive, believed very strongly in state's rights and resigned from the Vice-Presidency to combat the Tariff Acts, believing that they hurt the South's economy.

Ordinance of Nullification

Nov 24 1832

South Carolina declares the Tariff Acts of 1828 and 1832 unconstitutional and void.

Treaties of Velasco

14 May 1836

Santa Anna recognises the independence of a new Texan state, signing both a public and a secret treaty.

However, the treaties were not ratified by Mexico, and Mexico continued to claim that Texas was a breakaway state. They did not, however, have the strength to mount another invasion.

Pinckney Resolutions Pass Congress

22 May 1836

There were three main parts to the Pickney Resolution.

The first stated Congress had no constitutional authority and therefore could not vote on slavery, the second declared that it should not do so.

The third was a gag rule, which would automatically table any resolutions that had anything to do with slavery.

This gag was a resolution, not a standing House rule, so every year it had to be renewed by Congress. Every year, figures like John Quincy Adams fought against the gag rule being renewed, arguing for freedom of speech.

Liberty Party set up

Jan 1 1840

Predecessor to the Free Soil Party, did not win many votes in the elections it ran in, garnering 7,000 at it's highest.

Gag Rule Becomes House Rule

January 1840 - December 3 1844

Now that it was a constant rule, John Quincy Adams and other could not combat it every year, the gag rule became the Twenty-first Rule and meant that northern Whigs had to try to revoke a standing rule to talk about slavery.

The act was finally repealed in 1844, with all Northern Whigs, 4 Southern Whigs and more than 75% of Northern Democrats voting for the repeal.

Webster–Ashburton Treaty Ratified


Resolved border disputes with the British

Tyler-Texas Treaty Signed

April 12 1844

Would divide Texas into four new states, three of which would most likely become slave states. Boundaries of Texas were left unspecified. Tyler wanted to leave his mark on events and so submitted this document to Congress.

Douglas Tries To Formalise Nebraska Territory

Approx. 1845

Unsuccessful attempt

Texas Convention Accepts Annexation Offer

July 4 1845

Tyler's initial offer was defeated by Congress, it went back and forth multiple times between the houses until it was eventually watered down acceptably and passed.

Tyler dispatched a courier to present the offer to Texas on his last day in office, and Polk, when he became President, allowed the courier to continue. A convention in Texas accepted the offer.

Polk sends envoy to buy New Mexico/California for $30 million

November 10 1845

Polk sends John Slidell as an ambassador to try and buy off the states of New Mexico and California. Polk was a strong believer in 'manifest destiny,' the idea that westward expansion was an American's divine right.

However, when Slidell got to Mexico, he was greeted by an anti-American government that refused to have anything to do with him.

Polk increased belief in 'Slave Power Conspiracy' in the North by making peace with the British in regards to Oregon in the North but still looking for expansion in the South

American Writer John O'Sullivan Puts Manifest Destiny in Public Conscience

27 December 1845

O'Sullivan called for the annexation of Texas earlier in 1845 using the same phrase, but this time his usage was much more influential.

O'Sullivan was referring to US efforts to win Oregon from the British, and he states that it is America's 'right' to 'overspread and to possess the whole of the continent,' and introduce American democracy to everyone.

This was a popular belief among Democrats even before 1845, but many Republicans were against this belief, they believed America should expand through attracting states towards them, not aggressive expansionary policies. US Presidents like Abraham Lincoln criticised the belief of Manifest Destiny.

Texas Joins Union as Slave State

Feb 14 1846

Congress Declares War on Mexico

May 13 1846

Congress approved Polk's declaration of war, initially, 76 Whigs voted against the declaration on a slavery amendment, but in the final version only 14 Whigs voted no, many feared for their political careers.

Popular Sovereignty Proponent Lewis Cass Becomes Democrat Presidential Candidate

22 May 1848 - 25 May 1848

Popular sovereignty was one of three ideas about what to do about slavery in the territories.This compromise basically believed that new states should be allowed to choose for themselves whether or not slavery would extend to them, instead of Congress deciding. This was the most popular compromise as it allowed the Southern states to say there was no federal intervention and gave the Northerners a possibility that there wouldn't be slavery in the new states, because settlers were unlikely to vote for slavery.

However, popular sovereignty had a few problems, such as the fact that previously Congress had decided on what happened i the territories. Did Congress no longer have this power? Also, there was a question of when territories would vote on slavery.

Ultimately, it was unpopular overall because many Southerners supported the Calhoun Doctrine and many Northerners supported the Free-Soil Doctrine more than popular sovereignty.

Whig Zachary Taylor Wins 1848 Elections

7 August 1848

Taylor had both Northern and Southern appeal. In the North, Whigs highlighted the fact Taylor did not favour slavery expansion and was willing to defer to Congress on major issues and in the South, Whigs highlighted that Taylor was a Louisiana slaveholder.

In comparison, Democrat Lewis Cass only had Southern appeal, while Northern Democrats detested him.

More than that, this election was one of the few where a third party came into play. Former Democrat Martin van Buren, bitter about the direction of the Democrat Party, ran for the Free Soil Party, even though he had previously been willing to compromise with slavery, and won 10% of the popular vote, splitting Northern Democrats. This was a huge chunk of Democrat support, and meant that Taylor won by a landslide, with 163 electoral votes and over 1 million popular votes.

Free-Soil Party Set Up in Opposition to Calhoun Doctrine

August 9 1848 - August 10 1848

The Calhoun Doctrine stated that Congress did not have the ability to ban slavery from states, that if a citizen owned a slave in one state, that slave is their property in any territory in the US. Congress, he said, had no ability to assert any restriction on slavery in any of the territories.

This was hugely unpopular in the North, Northerners retaliated by setting up the Free Soil Party in 1848, this party wanted to ban slavery expansion no matter which state it was in, while the more extreme members of the party wanted to ban slavery altogether. The party was a single-issue party.

The event that the Free Soil Party was directly created from was the nomination of Lewis Cass. Lewis Cass was a proponent of popular sovereignty, and had opposed the Wilmot Proviso, which repulsed most Democrat candidates. These 'Barnburners,' giving the name because they were willing to 'burn America' to get rid of 'rats' joined with anti-slavery Whigs and the Liberty Party to form a Free-Soil Party.

The Free Soil Party ran former President Martin Van Buren as their candidate in the 1848 elections.

Rise of the Know-Nothing Party

Approx. 1849 - Approx. 1855

The Know-Nothing Party started out as a reaction against increased Catholic immigration, it was an offshoot of an organisation that pledged to vote for no-one but native-born Protestants.

By 1854, the Know-Nothing Party enjoyed enough success to throw in their candidates in elections, most wanted a decrease in immigration and had an anti-establishment outlook due to the Kansas-Nebraska Act helped it grow to about 1 million members.

By 1854 By 1855, it started calling itself the American Party.

Henry Clay Presents Set of Resolutions to Congress

29 January 1850

Clay offered Senate a set of resolutions that were meant to have been the basis of a compromise. They stated that:

  1. California was to be admitted as a free state.

  2. Utah and New Mexico would be organised as territories with no mention of slavery.

  3. Slave-trading to be banned in Washington, but not slavery instead.

  4. A more stringent Fugitive Slave Act than the 1793 one to be passed.

  5. Texas to surrender all disputed land to New Mexico, in return the US would take up all of Mexico's public debt.

Georgia Platform

June 1850

Decided on at Georgia Convention, supported the Compromise but stated that they would not accept any further attacks on the South's 'peculiar institution'

Henry Clay's Bill Defeated

July 31 1850

This is where Stephen Douglas stepped in, he broke Clay's bill down into its constituent pieces and between the 1st of September and the 1st of November, practically all the bill had passed separately.

This is because while the bill as a whole was rejected by both the North and the South, the constituent parts had support from the side they were more likely to appease, and so had more support from. This meant that the 1850 Compromise wasn't as much as 'Compromise' as both sides scrambling to get what they could.

Territory of New Mexico Under Popular Sovereignty Admitted

August 9 1850

Congress Approves California's Admission as Free State

August 13 1850

Congress Approves Utah Admission as Territory With Popular Sovereignty

Sep 7 1850

Harsher Fugitive Slave Act Passes

September 12 1850

This was one of the more controversial parts of the 1850 Compromise, as it pressed ordinary citizens into a sort of slave patrol, making it a criminal offence with a $1000 fine to not return slaves back to the South.

Nine Northern states passed personal liberty laws to counteract the Fugitive Slave Act.

Known as the 'Bloodhound Law' in the North

1852 Democrat National Convention

June 1 1852 - June 5 1852

Franklin Pierce picked over Lewis Cass and James Buchanan for the Democrat candidacy.

Platform was of supporting the 1850 Compromise, popular sovereignty and resisting to make a decision on slavery.

While Pierce was not a political heavyweight, he was acceptable for all sides with few political enemies.

1852 Whig National Convention

June 17 1852 - June 20 1852

Winfield Scott, war hero, picked over Daniel Webster, Edward Bates and Millard Fillimore among others for the Whig candidacy.

The Whigs did not, at this point, have a clear platform, they were divided and could not decide on one, so they went into the elections vague, yet hopefuly of a win, they had twice won the elections by running war heroes.

Pierce Wins 1852 Elections

November 2 1852

This was, at the time, the biggest election victory in American history.

The Whigs were decimated, their loss in the election destroyed them, and along with divisions in within the party due to sectionalism, the Whig Party collapsed.

Rise of the Republican Party

Approx. 1854 - Approx. 1855

There were various anti-slavery coalitions created to combat 'Slave Power' throughout 1854, but the one that finally caught on was the Republican Party.

In 1845-1845, it wasn't clear whether it would the the Know-Nothings or the Republicans that would pick up the Whig mantle in the North, while the Republicans held most of the Mid-West, the Know-Nothings held New England. However, the two parties tried to avoid being in direct conflict with each other.

It was pretty clear from the 1854 mid-terms that there would be an anti-Democrat majority in Congress. The worry was whether the anti-Democrat majority would concentrate more on nativism or slavery At this stage, many Republicans were Know Nothings and vice versa, but for pure Republicans that supported immigration, slavery was a major setback. It looked like the Know Nothings might gain the Whig mantle, especially since the Republicans only ever had Northern support, as it was created in opposition to slavery expansion, while the Know Nothings enjoyed support from both the North and the South.

Douglas Introduces Kansas-Nebraska Bill Into Congress

4 January 1854

Douglas had a few motives in making the Nebraska territory as quickly as possible.

  1. Railroad interests were eager to start a transcontinental railroad, and Douglas, a big promoter of railroads, was eager to help them. However, the transcontinental railroad could not start until the Nebraska territory was organised to be sold.

  2. There was a large amount of farmland available in Nebraska not yet open to the American people which would greatly help the economy.

  3. Douglas was hoping for prestige, he was a Democrat party leader in Senate and hopeful for the Presidency, he thought if he could outmaneuver the sectional politicians and get the bill to pass, it'd make him look better come election season.

Douglas tried to work his way around the Missouri Compromise by not mentioning it in his Kansas-Nebraska Bill at all, instead promoting popular sovereignty in the territory when it finally joins the Union, hoping that that would be enough for the Southern politicians. It was not.

Kansas-Nebraska Act Reintroduced Into Congress

23 Jan 1854

This time Kansas and Nebraska were to be two entirely separate territories, and the Missouri Compromise would be repealed in these areas.

Lead to a huge amount of debate in the USA. Free-soilers were at a disadvantage from the start, the Democrats held majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, meaning they could pass the Act on the Democrat party alone.

Kansas-Nebraska Act Signed by Pierce

May 30 1854

Act was passed by Congress on the 22nd of May, with 113 for and 100 against, so it clearly was a split result. Further, 44 Northern Democrats voted for, 43 voted against, so it was seriously split. 90% of Southerners voted for it and 64% of Northerners voted against it. Even with Pierce making it a test of party loyalty, you had a large proportion of Northerners voting against because of sectionalism.

1854 Mid-term Elections

Aug 4 1854 - Nov 6 1855

Northerners lose all but 23 of their free states in Congress. They originally had 91. Normally that would mean the free state votes would now go to the Whigs, but at this point the Whigs had very nearly collapsed, so all the opposition parties banded together to create an Opposition Party.

A major problem at the time was that slavery wasn't even the biggest issue in the North, it was immigration and Catholicism. However, even then, the North felt betrayed by Democrats and voted them out.

Ostend Manifesto Leaked

October 1854

American ministers met in and stated that Cuba is 'as necessary to the North American Republic as any present number.'

When this information leaked, there was widespread dissent in the North in disgust, the move was denounced and the minister to Spain was forced to resign.

Yet another example of Slave Power Conspiracy to the North, they criticised the Ostend Manifesto and used it as a rallying cry in the events of Bleeding Kansas.

Buchanan Wins 1856 Elections

Nov 4 1856

The Know Nothings collapsed when they dropped their anti-Kansas-Nebraska position, they lost all Northern support, even though they did so to keep a united front. Also, the decline of immigration and failure of Know-Nothing dominated legislatures to make good their campaign promises enabled critics to say they were useless. Their greatest problem however was that by 1856, many Know Nothings were old guard politicians, however at the start, one of their biggest appeals was that they were a new people's party.

The Republicans meanwhile, had gone from strength to strength, with the Speaker of the House now a Republican, and experienced politicians like Charles Sumner, William Seward and David Wilmot now part of the party. The Republicans also had a clearer platform, they were against slavery expansion and the idea of a Slave Power conspiracy was central to their beliefs.

The 1856 elections pit Fillmore, standing for the Know Nothings, against Buchanan, standing for the Democrats, against Fremont, standing for the Republicans.

In the South, the competition was basically between Fillmore and Buchanan, in the North it was between Fremont and Buchanan. Buchanan was from Pennsylvania, regarded as a battleground state,and was also acceptable to Southerners, with the Democrats painting themselves as the party of the status quo and unity. Republicans meanwhile, voted for Fremont because of the romance surrounding his career, he was a young, successful military leader who made the Republicans look young and energetic.

The American Party lost badly, only gaining 8 electoral votes. Buchanan won, carrying all but one Southern state along with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois and California. Freemont won elsewhere.

The results were good for Republicans. They had decimated the competition, the Know Nothings, and were only two states away from victory. Many were confident that they would win in 1860, especially with how much support the Democarts had lost in the North.


Haiti overthrows slave-owners, massacres white population

August 21 1791 - Jan 1 1804

Seriously scares the Southern white population, slaves were only considered 3/5 of a free person and the Haitian revolution convinced slave-owners something similar would happen to them.

President of Mexico Passes Bill Limiting Power of 'Anglos'

6 Apr 1830 - 7 April 1830

White settlers from the USA had settled into Mexico and the Mexican government began exerting it's authority on them, imposing taxes on these immigrant and enforcing a ban on slavery.

This annoyed many settlers and lead to the Anahuac Disputes in 1832 and 1835. Many settlers started calling for independence, they were already a majority in Texas.

Mexican leader Santa Anna captured

22 Apr 1836

Santa Anna was disguised as a private and was hiding in a marsh, but when a small group of Texans caught hold of him, he has forced to recognise the independence of the new Texan state.

Three Million Immigrants Enter the USA

Approx. 1845 - Approx. 1854

Around 1/3 were Irish Catholics, escaping the potato famine. German Catholics outnumbered Irish Catholics.

The Irish tended to work for lower wages and were accused of 'taking jobs' from native Americans (nativists were incredibly suspicious of immigrants).

The Whigs failed in regards to immigration, as they were pro-Catholic in 1852 to try and win the immigrant vote. However, they were not able to persuade immigrants to vote Whig, as immigrants still traditionally voted Democrat and the Whig campaign was not able to change their mind. At the same time, they lost the nativist vote as they looked like a party for the immigrants, so the Whig voter base collapsed. This, along with their failure to unite in regards to Kansas-Nebraska, led to their disintegration.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

4 July 1848

Peace treaty that ended the Mexican-American War.

Included the Mexican Cession, where Mexico gave the US the following states: California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Kanses.

In return, Mexico gave gained $15 million, which was approximately half of what Polk had been willing to offer it before hostilities. America also took up all of Mexico's debt to its own citizens, around $3.25 million.

The treaty was unpopular with Northerner, Ulysses S. Grant, a relatively inexperienced military leader at this point, said that he believed America was acting like a European colonial power here, taking land from a weaker country. However the treaty was still ratified by Congress.

American Sponsored FIlibuster in Cuba Fails


Gadsden Purchase

April 25 1853

Pierce buys almost 50,000 square miles of territory from Mexico, because of railway potential.

Pierce Attempts Cuba Takeover

July 1853

Pierce wants a Latin American slave empire, and so in 1853, Pierce supports former senator John Quitman in his attempts to overthrow Spain and gain Cuba for themselves.

Northerners were not supportive of Southern filibustering to expand slavery, so Pierce had to find a way to gain Cuba discreetly.


Second Great Awakening

Jan 1 1790 - Jan 1 1840

Protestant revival in the United States, with a sharp increase in Baptist/Methodist membership in churches. As Americans became more religious, they were less fond of slavery, especially in the North, and this contributed to abolitionism

Eli Whitney invents the cotton engine

Jan 1 1793

Introduction of the cotton 'gin' revolutionsed Southern agriculture, allowed cotton to quickly be separated from its seed

The South produces almost 2,000,000 bales of cotton a year

Jan 1 1830

Anglos make up large majority of Texas

1 Jan 1835

30,000 settlers now living in Mexico, with 5,000 (illegal) slaves. Only 5,000 Mexicans present.

Panic of 1837

1837 - 1838

Financial crisis in the United States, with unemployment rising up to 25% in some areas.

Jackson was blamed for the recession that came with the Panic, when he chose to not renew the charter for the Second Bank of America, the government took its funds out of the bank and this increase in the amount of money in the economy was blamed for the economy.

The President that came after him, Van Buren, was also blamed for not having enough government intervention.

All in all, the panic of 1837, along with the unpopularity of the gag rule, lead to the Whigs winning a majority in Congress for the first time ever.

California Gold Rush Leads to Population Spike

January 24 1848 - 1855

Church of Latter Day Saints Sets Up 'State' of Deseret

1849 - 1850

Never formally recognised by the US

Uncle Tom's Cabin Published

March 20 1852

Sold 300,000 copies in 1852 alone, and single-handedly changed Northern perception of slavery, pushing an aggressively ant-slavery stance, with historians believing that the North's attitude to slavery was never the same after Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Bleeding Kansas

Approx. 1854 - Approx. 1861

Violent political confrontations between Free-Staters and 'Border Ruffians' in Kansas and border towns in neighbouring Missouri.

John Brown, the sack of Lawrence and the caning of Charles Sumner were some of the tensest moments in the buildup to the Civil War. Violence only ended with the appointment of John Geary as Governer of the territory, who quickly realised that Free-Staters held the majority and had the momentum.

Meanwhile, in the political sphere, both the Free-Staters and the Border Ruffians fought over territorial legislature, with four different constitutions coming out between the years 1854 and 1861.

Sack of Lawrence

May 21 1856

About 800 pro-slavery Border Ruffians cornered the Free-Stater settlement of Lawrence, destroying property.

Only one man died, a pro-slavery Ruffian hit by falling masonry, however this event helped ramp up the guerrilla warfare element of Bleeding Kansas.

Pottawatomie Massacre

May 24 1856 - may 25 1856

Extremist abolitionist John Brown, particularly affected by the sack of Lawrence and the caning of Sumner, along with the weak response from the Free-State faction, took it upon himself to avenge Free-Staters and strike terror in the hearts of Border Ruffians.

On the 24th of May, he went to the house of a well-known slave-catcher, and killed both him and his two sons. Next, he killed two more pro-slavery settlers, killing 5 in all. There had only been 9 murder in Kansas up until that point, and John Brown killed 5 in a single night.

Nothing happened to Brown, but there was an outbreak of rage from the South, the Pottawatomie Massacre kickstarted three months of violent conflict, and lead to the deaths of 29, whilst the political conflict went on until 1861.

America reaches 1860

Jan 1 1860

25% of unmarried white women in the workforce and less than 5% of white women in the workforce. Women, for the most part, could still not vote or hold property. The cult of domesticity held them back, keeping them home, but at the same time, they were seen as guardians of morality, and were very involved in movements like temperance and abolitionism.

America experienced a huge increase in population, it had 17 million people 1840 and almost 31 million by 1860.

Most Americans were still farmers, between 1840 and 1860 the US experienced a four-fold increase in food production, with land opening up in the West.

The country used to depend heavily on canals for transportation, but by 1860, railways were more in fashion due to prices going down. While the US only had 3000 miles of track in 1840, it had almost 30,000 miles of track by 1860.

There was a steady increase in urbanisation, with 10% of Americans living in towns by 1860.

Western expansion was an important aspect between these years, with the population in the Appalachians increasing three times as quickly as those of the original 13 states. By 1830, half of Americans lived west of the Appalachian mountains, and in the 1840s, Americans moved even further westward, crossing the Mississippi.


Congress bans slavery in the North West Territory

Jan 1 1787

US bans slave trade

Jan 1 1808

Planned Versey Plot Fails

July 14 1822

Slave Denmark Versey, inspired by event in Haiti, plans a slave rebellion in the Charleston area. His plot is uncovered and almost 100 slaves are killed or punished.

As a result, the African Church was destroyed, and there was a restriction of movement for all black people in South Carolina.

Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion

08/21/1831 - 08/22/1831

Slave rebellion lead by Nat Turner. Lead to the deaths of 55-66 whites, the highest number of fatalities in any rebellion in the American South.

Whites responded by killing almost 200 blacks, and black were no longer allowed to be educated to read and write, nor were they allowed to have worship services without the presence of a white minister.

Nat Turner was hung not soon after.

National Anti-Slavery Society established

Jan 1 1833

Most of its leaders were well educated, fairly wealthy, with women and free blacks playing a crucial role. Many were ex-slaves, organised frequently and sent massive petitions to Congress

National Anti-Slavery Society hits 250,000 members, still not successful

Jan 1 1838

While the abolitionist movement did experience a surge in growth in the 1830s that can be attributed in part to the Second Great Awakening, it still suffered from limited appeal in the North and the South.

While in the North many were against slavery in principle, most Northerners were still racist and feared an exodus of slaves towards them, taking their jobs.

In the North, abolitionists set up the Liberty Party, a single-issue party that could only garner 7,000 votes, making it a failure.

Had absolutely no support in the South, Southerners still blamed abolitionists for Nat Turner's slave revolt and felt personally offended by the attack on slavery, jumping from calling it a peculiar institution to calling it a moral good.

Census of 1850 Reveals Slave Demographics

Approx. 1850

1/3 Southern families own slaves.

1860 Census Reveals Slave Demographics


Nearly four million slaves in the South, almost 33% of the population.
50% of slave owners owned more than five slaves. 50% of slaves lived on plantations with more than 20 slaves.

Decrease in number of Southern families that own slaves, only 25% now own one. This worried Southern politicians, the average Southerner might feel less invested in slavery.

Most slaves were held by 10,000 families.

55% of slaves worked in cotton production.

In addition to slaves, there were also 250,000 free blacks in the South, many of whom were mixed race. There were also 200,000 free blacks in the North, where segregation gave them the worst jobs, and only 3 states allowed blacks to vote on the same terms as whites.