Slavery before ‘The Civil War’
Slavery before ‘The Civil War’
Slavery is part of the history of the United States which can never be eliminated. It formed one of the most important concerns of humanity and it even led to the civil war at a time when it ended. However, it did not end completely since some of the southerners even after being defeated by the union and the northern states did not fully accept those black people needed to be treated as full human beings. Apart from the civil war, there were other silent wars like the gag rule and the later formed Ku Klux Klan movement which originated from the south. It has therefore been a long journey to liberation from slavery and it goes on even today whereby the main issue being addressed is the systemic racism within the society of the united states. This paper, therefore, addresses the attempts of Congress to eliminate slavery, issues surrounding slavery that led to the civil war, and when the war was inevitable.
Eli Whitney invented the use of cotton in making clothes. It was at a time when slavery especially in the south was losing its value due to the few jobs for the slaves and the abundance of the slaves. It was just before the invention that the abolitionists believed that congress was going to abolish slavery. Unfortunately instead of the expected abolishment, slavery skyrocketed from 700,000 slaves in 1790 to 1.2 million slaves in 1810 due to the establishment of cotton farms. Due to the large numbers, the slaves were treated harshly and the abolitionists were against this. It was one of the reasons for the civil war. The southerners were making so much profit and did not want to end slavery and lose the profits. On the other hand the abolitionists were mainly focused on humanity. Therefore the southerners seceded when the abolitionists wanted to end slavery. This made the war inevitable since it was the fight between human rights on the side of the union and northerners versus economic wealth on the side of southerners.
The Missouri compromise, on the other hand, was an issue and an effort by Congress to end slavery. Even though it achieved its primary short-term goal it failed at the end. The laws which were put into place were that there would be no acceptance of any state into the union which supported slavery. This came as a result of the tension which had been growing between the north and the south. The tension was due to the states of both whereby the south was pro-slavery and the north was anti-slavery. The Missouri compromise, therefore, was in effect until the time when Missouri applied for statehood in 1817. The controversy began when the state was granted the freedom to be free of any binding rules and laws concerning whether it was pro-slavery or anti-slavery. With this, James Talmadge tried to amend the bill to state that no more enslaved people would be brought into Missouri. He also amended it into saying that the enslaved children should be set free by the age of 25. Even though this held for some time it still did not solve the issue of slavery. Instead it gave birth to Kansas-Nebraska Act which later turned out to bleeding Kansas.
Kansas-Nebraska Act was devised by Senator Stephen Douglas and his aim was the expansion of railroads. He hoped that the hub of the railroads would have been Chicago. However, there was a problem in that they had to pass through Lowa and Missouri. Therefore these two had to be recognized into the union before the railroads could pass through them into California. This act even though made with good intentions fueled chaos and violence. One of the provisions of the act was that the states should depend on the sovereignty of the people or rather popular sovereignty. This is whereby the states were to vote whether they wanted slavery or not. This was the main cause of the violence as forces of both sides arrived in Kansas and violence erupted. The violence reached its peak in 1856 when there was a burning of the free soil. It was due to this violence that the territory was referred to as bleeding Kansas a name given by Horace Greeley who was an editor of the new york tribune. With congress trying all they could to end slavery the slaves were also involved in fighting for their liberation. This was evident in the efforts of Nathanial “Nat” Turner. Claiming that he had been chosen by God to lead his people away from suffering he organized a group of slaves who decided to flee and find their freedom away from their masters.
Claiming to get inspiration from the eclipse of the sun in 1831 he led a group of more than 80 slaves into killing Travis’s family where he was stationed and fled. However, this was not successful and some of the slaves were beaten by white people mobs of around 50 individuals. Nathaniel hid for around six weeks and later was found and he was executed by crucifixion. Even though this did not bear fruit it encouraged the others that there was a way out. It even encouraged the abolitionists as it openly declared how the slaves were being treated. In the wake of Mexican-American war new territories were added. However there was the challenge of these states supporting slavery and therefore there had to be devised a method of dealing with them. This resulted into the compromise of 1850. It was made up of 5 bills and all tried to address the issue of slavery among the new states which were acquired from Mexico. Senator Henry Clay came up with this compromise and through it he hoped to end or to stop civil war. The five major points of the compromise included; permission of slavery in Washington but abolishment of slave trade, addition of California to the union as a free state. Others included establishment of Utah and New Mexico as territories to decide their fate in face of slavery and also defined new boundaries for the state of Texas. There was also the fugitive act which required citizens to assist in apprehending run-away slaves. All these tried to stop the civil war however they never worked and it still happened.
In conclusion therefore it is true that slavery was a very strong force whose effects are still felt even up to today. At the same time, it is also important to recognize the efforts and the leaders of the abolition even those who suffered for the right course because the value of human beings can never be degraded as southerners did. The above history explains the slavery activities leading to the civil war which was the most important part of the end of slavery in the United States.