Conflict between the Northern union and the Southern states, which seceded and formed the Confederacy. The war lasted from 1861 to 1865 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts in U.S. history, with over 600,000 deaths.
Officially, Scott v. Sanford, this case was argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1856–1857. Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, accompanied his master to Illinois and then to the Wisconsin territories, where slavery was illegal. When his master died, Scott sued his master's widow for his and his family's freedom, stating that because he was in a free state, he was no longer a slave. The Supreme Court ruled against Scott, deciding, in the process, that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in new states and territories.
Signed by Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, and put into effect January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation put an end to slavery in the United States. In its wake, huge numbers of freed slaves migrated to Northern cities.
A series of bloody battles in June and July of 1863 during the Civil War. The Union Army lost 23,000 men in the battle and the Confederacy lost 25,000.
A bill passed by Congress on May 30, 1854 by which the Kansas and Nebraska territories became states. It intensified the slave debate in America because it directly contradicted provisions in the Missouri Compromise, which barred the extension of slavery into new states. The legality of slavery, according to this new law, would be decided by "popular sovereignty", or by the inhabitants of the territory.
A series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. At stake was the question of extending slavery into the newly admitted states-notable, Nebraska and Kansas. Lincoln firmly opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which left the decision about whether or not slavery should be legal in the hands of the settlers of that state. Douglas, who supported this bill, called this concept popular sovereignty. Lincoln's success in these debates opened the door for him to capture the presidential election of 1860.
Conflict between the U.S. and Mexico between 1846 and 1848, sparked by the U.S. annexation of Texas in December 1845.
Also called the Southampton Insurrection, this slave insurrection was led by a Virginia slave named Nat Turner in 1831. Turner, who believed himself meant by God to lead the rebellion, planned a revolt along with about sixty other slaves. The group killed Turner's owner's family and then went on to kill fifty-five other whites. It led to a tightening of the existing slave laws in the South and ended any hope of success for the burgeoning abolitionist movement there.
A financial crisis brought on by speculation and reckless financial dealings in the Western territories.
A series of legislative measures meant to assuage Southern fears that slavery was on the way out, and to satisfy Northern anti-slavery forces that slavery was not going to be extended. Under this compromise, California was admitted as a free state, New Mexico and Utah territories were organized without mention of slavery-to be determined by popular sovereignty-and the prohibition of slavery in the newly organized District of Columbia. In addition, the fugitive slave laws were made more inflexible.