Crisis of Union


Election of 1848

1848 - 1852

In this presidential election, Zachary Taylor, a Whig, was victorious, though in this election the slavery debate came to the forefront with Martin van Buren's Free Soil Party and their adamant abolitionist views.

Underground Railroad

1849 - 1860

Harriet Tubman led hundreds of slaves to freedom, using her network of hideouts and supporters to free many who were once enslaved like her.

Compromise of 1850

January 29, 1850 - 1860

In 1850, Henry Clay proposed a compromise that would settle the dispute between whether the new states would be enslaved or free. The compromise stated that California would be admitted as a free state but also enact a stricter fugitive slave law. Also, popular sovereignty would determine whether Utah and New Mexico were enslaved or not. The effect of this was riots started breaking out where the north would said God’s “Higher law” was more important than popular sovereignty, and the south fought back by boycotting northern goods and promoting separation from the Union

Uncle Tom's Cabin

June 5, 1851 - April 1, 1852

An book published weekly by "The National Era," a Northern magazine, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which depicted the terrible actions on slaves in the South, which enlightened many on the topic of slavery.

Christiana Riot

September 11, 1851 - September 17,1851

In 1851, a group of free african americans gathered in a farmhouse in christiana pennsylvania to protect several fugitives from a federal official who came to reclaim them. In the process the white owner was killed. Although 30 were tried, none of them were found guilty. This triggered more “Christiana Riots” in other states and cities.

Bleeding Kansas

December 14,1853 - 1861

Throughout the fall of 1856 many fights broke out around Lawrence, Kansas. The cause of this was the influx of emigrants from both the north and the south trying to dominate the territory so they would have more of a political say. Eventually these fights went all the way to congress where workers would even come to work armed. Kansas was admitted as a slave state by President Pierce but got rejected by congress till it entered as a free state after the civil war.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

May 30, 1854 - January 21, 1861

In the spring of 1854, with pressure from the south, congress decided to split the vast region of nebraska. The two new states would be Kansas, a slave state, and Nebraska, a free state. This smoothed over tension for awhile until the north and south battled for domination. Each wanted to outnumber the other so when it came time to vote, they would have population advantage. This quickly turned to violence when fights started breaking out over the territory.

Rise of the Republican Party

June 6, 1854 - February 22, 1856

In 1854 as the older parties disintegrated, the republican party rised. Many people supported this party because it had a set idea on slavery which was they opposed it. The election of 1856 brought forth a new party that won the whole election as Abraham Lincoln as the new president.

Election of 1856

1856 - 1860

A very heated election in which James Buchanan, a Democrat, was elected President. He favored the popular sovereignty approach to slavery, warning that the first new Republican Party candidate John C. Fremont's radical anti-slavery sentiments would lead to civil war.

Dred Scott Decision

March 1857 - June 16, 1858

In 1857, a slave named Dred Scott sued for his freedom. Scott found a loophole when his master took him to the free territory of Illinois and Wisconsin where slavery was banned. When taken to court, they ruled out of Scotts favor. Many northerners were upset by this deeming it a conspiracy and suggesting to impeach the supreme court. Although it boosted the Souths confidence, it only deepened the differences between the North and South.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates

August 21, 1858 - October 15, 1858

A series of seven debates during the Illinois Senatorial campaigns of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas which brought the topic of slavery's expansion into the territories won from Mexico in public view. While Lincoln, a Republican and future President, argued vehemently that slavery should not spread, Douglas, the incumbent Democrat won the race, although he was defeated later in the Presidential election of 1860 by Lincoln.

John Brown's Raid

October 16, 1859 - December 2, 1859

In late 1857, John Brown proclaimed that he was an angel of God sent to end slavery. After much planning, Brown and his men set out to seize arsenal from Harpers Ferry in fall of 1859. Unfortunately for John local residents surrounded him at the sight and officials later arrested him. When word of Republicans instigating Browns attack got out, many southerners demanded for an investigation. Republicans condemned these rumors, but uncertainty led to a steep drop in cotton prices. Many southerners also expected the worse and started preparing for war.

Formation of the Constitutional Union Party

December 1859 - May 1860

This party was founded as a joining of leftover Southern Whigs and Know-Knothings, and their platform was simply to adhere solely to the Constitution. They nominated John Bell of Tennessee, who garnered 5% of the popular vote. They hoped that by failing to take a stance on slavery, the issue would be pushed aside.

Election of 1860

March 1860 - 1864

The new election was based on the idea of slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the republican candidate, pronounced that slavery should not be allowed in the territories. The democratic party could not agree on one testament, so they nominated two candidates that would represent both of the ideas. Stephen Douglas wanted popular sovereignty to determine slave states, and John Breckinridge said the federal government must protect slavery. Whigs acted as the mediators and elected John Bell to have the government supports slavery but also defend the Union. Lincoln won without a single southern vote. Alarmed by this, southerners began to say they had no say in government acts. Infuriated by the election, the south decided to secede from the union and become known as the “Confederate States of America”.

Secession of the States

March 4, 1860 - February 1861

Immediately following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, the South Carolina legislature declared themselves separate from the United States for their assault on slavery. Other Deep South States followed, including Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky. This was the major action that kicked off the start of the civil war.

Split of Democratic Party

April 23, 1860 - May 3, 1860

At the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, the party got into an argument that destroyed it over whether the government should protect slavery. The Southern delegates believed it should, while popular sovereignty was the position of the northern democrats. Enraged at the Northerner's nomination of Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, 50 southern delegates left. This demonstrates how close open conflict was and the sectional tensions at this time.

Crittenden Compromise

December 1860 - January 1861

This compromise was a failed attempt by Kentucky senator John J. Crittenden to avert southern secession by reestablishing the Missouri Compromise line, an act that would protect slavery in the South and some of the territory won from Mexico. Though it had much Southern support, opposition from the North, as well as the President, stopped its passing.

Attack on Fort Sumter

April 11, 1861 - April 13, 1861

After Lincoln's failure to capture all Union forts in the Confederate States of America, a Charleston force fired on a supply ship bringing food to Fort Sumter, a Union outpost. The shelling by Confederate soldiers continued for 34 hours, and the Union forces eventually surrendered due to lack of ammunition two days later, ending the first battle of the Civil War.