What was meant by "Bleeding Kansas"? How did this issue reflect the national crisis?

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1 Chapter 13 IMPENDING CRISIS How were the boundary disputes in Oregon and Texas resolved? Britain and the United States both claimed sovereignty in the Northwest, a dispute initially resolved by an 1818 treaty allowing joint occupation by settlers from either nation. Considerable numbers of Americans migrated to the Northwest in the 1840s. Despite conflicts with Indians, these migrants were able to establish permanent settlements and urged the U.S. government to solidify American claims in the region. President Polk proposed setting the boundary between the United States and British Canada at the 49th parallel, a proposal that was accepted only after Polk threated war to take the border farther north ( Fifty-four Forty or Fight! ). Texas had achieved independence from Mexico in 1836 after massive American immigration to the region defeated Mexico demographically and militarily. After nearly a decade as its own republic, Texas was admitted as a U.S. state in Soon a border dispute between Mexico and the newly American Texas state erupted into a war, which settled the border after an American victory in Both border disputes were exacerbated by rapid influxes of American settlers, followed in one case by the threat of war against Britain and in the other by actual war against Mexico. For expansionists and believers in Manifest Destiny, both boundary resolutions were just solutions that followed a moral imperative How did the decisions of President Polk actually intensify the sectional conflict? In the debate over the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, some northerners interpreted Polk s desire to annex all of Mexico to be a screen for expanding slave territory. Acquisition of Mexico reopened the debate on whether new states and territories should allow slavery, a debate that divided the country between North and South. Polk backed a proposal to expand the line drawn by the Missouri Compromise, but others argued that popular sovereignty should be followed, allowing each territory to decide on their own whether to allow slavery. Northerners and westerners believed that Polk wanted to expand into the Southwest at a cost to their own regions, thus benefiting the South What was meant by "Bleeding Kansas"? How did this issue reflect the national crisis? To gather support for the northern plan for the transcontinental railroad, Stephen Douglas negotiated an end to the Missouri Compromise. New territories like Kansas could decide whether to be a slave state. Popular sovereignty was victorious.

2 The debate over popular sovereignty for Kansas split the Whig Party, and opponents of the Douglas plan from both the Whig and the Democratic Party came together to form the Republican Party in Thousands of migrants from Missouri flooded Kansas in anticipation of the slavery decision, and Kansas became a slave state. Free Staters organized their own government, which was denounced by the federal government. Mobs attacked the Free Staters in Lawrence, and the fiery John Brown fought back on the antislavery side. Tensions around slavery thus upset political stability of the two-party system and led to sporadic violence in these years just prior to the Civil War What was the impact of the 1857 Dred Scott decision on the sectional conflict? As an African American, Dred Scott was ruled ineligible to sue in court because he was a noncitizen. The Supreme Court s decision was equivocal, but various rulings clarified that blacks had no rights and were, in fact, property in slave states. Therefore the federal government, through the courts, could not settle the critical sectional difference between slave and free states. The laws regarding choices by individual states on slavery did not change, but the ruling revealed the impotence of the federal government in settling the sectional dispute. Southern whites were pleased by the ruling, believing that it justified their policies, while the new Republican Party threatened to overturn the decision when they gained power How did the growing sectional crisis affect the nation's political parties? Newly in office, President Buchanan quietly demonstrated support for the Dred Scott decision and moved to accept Kansas as a slave state. Political infighting continued in Kansas, and the voters twice rejected a constitution that would allow slavery in the state. In 1858, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, who had brokered some of the politics around the Kansas controversy, ran for reelection to the U.S. Senate against the lesser-known Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln. In their famous debates, Lincoln asserted that Douglas did not hold a proper moral stance against slavery. Douglas managed to defeat Lincoln to stay in the Senate, but the national publicity vaulted Lincoln into a position not as an abolitionist, but as a moral critic of slavery and an opponent of allowing its spread to new territories. While Douglas won, the Democrats as a party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, causing gridlock for several years

3 Why did President Polk go to war with Mexico? Why did the war become so divisive in Congress and the country? Polk went to war with Mexico to obtain Mexican land for capitalist production, to create a continental nation with trading ports near Asia, and to fulfill a Christian and Manifest Destiny ideology. The war became divisive in Congress initially because of the Wilmot Proviso s focus on banning slavery from any new territories acquired from Mexico. This act alienated southerners who wanted to extend slavery to new lands as a positive good and to fulfill popular sovereignty What issues did the Compromise of 1850 resolve? Who benefited more from its terms: the North or the South? Why? The Compromise of 1850 resolved the issue of whether or not to legally allow slavery in new lands acquired from Mexico. Results included California entering as a free state, a new Fugitive Slave Act, abolishing the slave trade (but not slavery) in the District of Columbia, organizing the remaining lands acquired from Mexico into the territories of New Mexico and Utah, and leaving the decision to allow or prohibit slavery to the local population (popular sovereignty). The South benefited more because slavery remained legal in the nation s capital, the federal government would increase its use of force to return escaped slaves to their white masters, and the remaining lands taken from Mexico could decide for themselves if they wanted slavery. The North, however, could claim that it had put limitations on slavery, indicating a slow death to the institution over time Why did the Compromise of 1850 fail? Would it have succeeded if the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 either had not been enacted or had contained different provisions? The Compromise failed because antislavery northerners refused to accept its provision for returning fugitive slaves and slavery s erosion of free labor in the west. Proslavery southerners also plotted to extend slavery into the West, the Caribbean, and Central America. The Second Party system was unable to contain the debate, further destabilizing the compromise. Resulting disputes in the early 1850s doomed the fragile agreement. So did Stowe s 1852 book, Uncle Tom s Cabin. If the Kansas-Nebraska Act had not contained a provision for popular sovereignty, perhaps the destruction of the Second Party System and the eruption of Bleeding Kansas would not have occurred in 1855, and Brown s raid on Harper s Ferry in 1859 and the Civil War the following year as well What were the main constitutional arguments advanced during the debate over slavery in the territories? Which of those arguments influenced Chief Justice Taney s opinion in Dred Scott?

4 The main constitutional arguments were as follows: states have the right to secede from the Union; Congress has no right to regulate slavery in the territories; extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific Ocean; follow squatter or popular sovereignty; and Congress should restrict slavery within its existing boundaries and then extinguish it completely. Taney argued that Congress and territorial governments had no authority to prohibit slavery in a territory, and that slave owners could take their property into a territory and own it. Taney endorsed the principle of popular sovereignty: settlers could write a constitution, request state-hood, and then decide if slavery would be legal What was Lincoln s position on slavery during the 1850s? Did it differ from that of Stephen Douglas? Explain your answer. Lincoln believed human bondage unjust but doubted that the federal government had the constitutional authority to tamper with slavery in the South. Lincoln did not want to see slavery expand into the western territories. He also introduced legislation that would require the gradual emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia. He also advocated firm opposition to the colonization of freed blacks in Africa. His middle-of-the-road policies, however, did not help him win elections. Douglas believed that popular sovereignty should decide the issue of slavery in the territories. Douglas supported white supremacy and the inevitability of slavery in the territories. As a compromise measure, Douglas advocated the Freeport Doctrine: that a territory s residents could exclude slavery by not adopting laws to protect it, a position that pleased neither side. In many ways, their positions did not differ except on the issue of slavery s expansion to the western territories. Both believed in white supremacy, the existence of slavery in the South, and the concept of majority political rule What was the relationship between the collapse of the Second Party System of Whigs and Democrats and the Republican victory in the election of 1860? The collapse of the Second Party System created a vacuum in which the Republican Party grew in popularity. Without the collapse of the system and the hopeless divisions between Whigs and Democrats, the third party splinter Republicans could never have amassed the votes and states necessary to achieve a presidential victory in Although Lincoln received only 40% of the popular vote, he won every northern and western state except New Jersey, giving him an absolute majority in the Electoral College Some historians claim that the mistakes of a Blundering Generation of political leaders led, by 1860, to the imminent breakup of the Union. Do you agree with their assessment? Why or why not?

5 Elected officials exert a strong force in shaping the fate of millions of average citizens through laws and policies passed in Congress. The policies and decisions of James Buchanan and Stephen Douglas are a case in point: Buchanan supported the southern proslavery position and was unwilling to use his office to further compromise between North and South. Convinced that a final proslavery decision would end the fighting in Kansas, Buchanan pressured several federal judges to vote in tandem with their southern colleagues in the Dred Scott case of He then added fuel to the fire by recommending that Kansas be admitted as a slave state under a proslavery Lecompton legislature, despite public and official misgivings over the legitimacy of the Lecompton government. Douglas wanted desperately to become president of the United States and earn wealth from being the spokesmen for a transcontinental railroad, so pushed the idea of popular sovereignty in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, resulting in violent outbreaks known as Bleeding Kansas.

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