Slave states and free states

In the history of the United States, a slave state was a U.S. state in which the practice of slavery was legal, and a free state was one in which slavery was prohibited or being legally phased out. Historically, in the 17th century, slavery was established in a number of English overseas possessions. In the 18th century, it existed in all the British colonies of North America. In 1776, slavery was legal throughout the Thirteen Colonies; starting with Pennsylvania in 1780, about half the states abolished slavery during the Revolutionary War or in the first decades of the new country. Slavery became a divisive issue; it was a major issue during the writing of the U.S. Constitution, and slavery was the primary cause of the American Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in December 1865, abolished slavery throughout all of the United States.

US Slave Free 1789-1861
An animation showing the free/slave status of U.S. states and territories, 1789-1861 (see separate yearly maps below). The American Civil War began in 1861. The 13th Amendment, effective December 1865, abolished slavery in the U.S.

Early history

US SlaveFree1789
US SlaveFree1800

Historically, slavery in Eastern North America in the 17th and 18th century began in the English colonies. Slavery in the colonial US was established in each of the Thirteen Colonies. During British colonization, the number of people in slavery expanded, primarily drawn from the Atlantic slave trade.[1] Organized political and social movements to end slavery began in the mid-18th century.[2] The sentiments of the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the equality evoked by the Declaration of Independence stood in contrast to the status of most black Americans. Despite this, thousands of black Americans fought against the British in hopes of a new order. Thousands also joined the British army, encouraged by British offers of freedom in exchange for military service.[2] (See Black Patriot and Black Loyalist).

In the 1770s, blacks throughout New England began sending petitions to northern legislatures demanding freedom. Five of the Northern self-declared states adopted policies to at least gradually abolish slavery: Pennsylvania in 1780, New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 1783, and Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784. Vermont had abolished slavery in 1777, while it was still independent, before it joined the United States as the 14th state in 1791. These state jurisdictions thus enacted the first abolition laws in the Americas.[3] By 1804 (including New York (1799) and New Jersey (1804)), all of the northern states had abolished slavery or set measures in place to gradually abolish it.[2][4]

In the south, Kentucky was created a slave state from Virginia (1792), and Tennessee was created a slave state from North Carolina (1796). By 1804, before the creation of new states from the federal western territories, the number of slave and free states was 8 each. In popular usage, the geographic divide between the slave and free states was called the Mason-Dixon line (between Maryland and Pennsylvania or Delaware).

The 1787 Constitutional Convention debated slavery, and for a time slavery was a major impediment to passage of the new constitution. As a compromise, the institution was acknowledged though never mentioned directly in the constitution, as in the case of the Fugitive Slave Clause. In 1808, the United States outlawed the international slave import trade, but the domestic trade in half the states continued.

New territories

US SlaveFree1821
The Missouri Compromise of 1820, trading the admission of Missouri (slave) for Maine (free), drew a line extending west from Missouri's southern border, which was intended to divide any new territory into slave (south of the line) and free (north of the line).
US SlaveFree1837
With the statehood of Arkansas in 1836, the number of slave states grew to 13, but the statehood of Michigan in 1837 maintained the balance between slave and free states.
US SlaveFree1846 Wilmot
By 1845, with Texas and Florida in the Union as slave states, slave states once again outnumbered the free states for a year until Iowa was admitted as a free state in 1846.
US SlaveFree1858
By 1858, 17 free states, which included Wisconsin (1848), California (1850), and Minnesota (1858), outnumbered the 15 slave states.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, passed just before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, had prohibited slavery in the federal Northwest Territory. The southern boundary of the territory was the Ohio River, which was regarded as a westward extension of the Mason-Dixon line. The territory was generally settled by New Englanders and American Revolutionary War veterans granted land there. The 6 states created from the territory were all free states: Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), Illinois (1818), Michigan (1837), Wisconsin (1848), and Minnesota (1858).

During the War of 1812, the British accepted as free all slaves who came into their hands, with no conditions as to military service such as had been made in Dunmore's Proclamation in the Revolutionary War. By the end of the War of 1812, the momentum for antislavery reform, state by state, appeared to run out of steam, with half of the states having already abolished slavery (Northeast), prohibited from the start (Midwest) or committed to eliminating slavery, and half committed to continuing the institution indefinitely (South).

The potential for political conflict over slavery at a federal level made politicians concerned about the balance of power in the United States Senate, where each State was represented by two Senators. With an equal number of slave states and free states, the Senate was equally divided on issues important to the South. As the population of the free states began to outstrip the population of the slave states, leading to control of the House of Representatives by free states, the Senate became the preoccupation of slave-state politicians interested in maintaining a Congressional veto over federal policy in regard to slavery and other issues important to the South. As a result of this preoccupation, slave states and free states were often admitted into the Union in opposite pairs to maintain the existing Senate balance between slave and free states.

Missouri Compromise

Controversy over whether Missouri should be admitted as a slave state resulted in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which specified that Louisiana Purchase territory north of latitude 36° 30', which described most of Missouri's southern boundary, would be organized as free states and territory south of that line would be reserved for organization as slave states. As part of the compromise, the admission of Maine (1820) as a free state was secured to balance Missouri's admission as a slave state (1820).

Texas and the Mexican Cession

The admission of Texas (1845) and the acquisition of the vast new Mexican Cession territories (1848), after the Mexican–American War, created further North-South conflict. Although the settled portion of Texas was an area rich in cotton plantations and dependent on slave labor, the territory acquired in the Mountain West did not seem hospitable to cotton or slavery.

As part of the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted as a free state without a slave state pair. To avoid creating a free state majority in the Senate, California agreed to send one pro-slavery and one anti-slavery senator to Congress.

Last battles

The difficulty of identifying territory that could be organized into additional slave states stalled the process of opening the western territories to settlement, while slave state politicians sought a solution, with efforts being made to acquire Cuba (see: Ostend Manifesto, 1852) and to annex Nicaragua (see: Walker affair, 1856–57), both to be slave states.

In 1854, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was superseded by the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed white male settlers in the new territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow slavery within each territory. The result was that pro- and anti-slavery elements flooded into Kansas with the goal of voting slavery up or down, leading to bloody fighting.[5] An effort was initiated to organize Kansas for admission as a slave state, paired with Minnesota, but the admission of Kansas as a slave state was blocked because of questions over the legitimacy of its slave state constitution. Anti-slavery settlers in "Bleeding Kansas" in the 1850s were called Free-Staters and Free-Soilers, because they fought (successfully) to include Kansas in the Union as a free state in 1861.

When the admission of Minnesota proceeded unimpeded in 1858, the balance in the Senate was lost; a loss that was compounded by the subsequent admission of Oregon as a free state in 1859.

Slave and free state pairs

Before 1812, the concern about balancing slave-states and free states was not profound. The following table shows the slave and free states as of 1812. The year column is the year the state ratified the US Constitution or was admitted to the Union:

Slave states Year Free states Year
Delaware 1787 New Jersey
(Slave until 1804)
Georgia 1788 Pennsylvania 1787
Maryland 1788 Connecticut 1788
South Carolina 1788 Massachusetts 1788
Virginia 1788 New Hampshire 1788
North Carolina 1789 New York
(Slave until 1799)
Kentucky 1792 Rhode Island 1790
Tennessee 1796 Vermont 1791
Louisiana 1812 Ohio 1803
US SlaveFree1861
By the eve of the Civil War in mid-1861, with the addition to Oregon (1859) and Kansas (1861), the number of free states had grown to 19 while the number of slave states remained at 15.

From 1812 through 1850, maintaining the balance of free and slave state votes in the Senate was considered of paramount importance if the Union were to be preserved, and states were typically admitted in pairs:

Slave states Year Free states Year
Mississippi 1817 Indiana 1816
Alabama 1819 Illinois 1818
Missouri 1821 Maine 1820
Arkansas 1836 Michigan 1837
Florida 1845 Iowa 1846
Texas 1845 Wisconsin 1848

The balance was maintained until 1850:

Slave states Year Free states Year
(One pro-slavery Senator)
Minnesota 1858
Oregon 1859
Kansas 1861

The Civil War (1861-1865) disrupted and eventually ended slavery:

Slave state Year Free state Year
West Virginia
(gradual abolition plan)
1863 Nevada 1864

West Virginia

During the Civil War, a Unionist government in Wheeling, Virginia, presented a statehood bill to Congress in order to create a new state from 48 counties in western Virginia. The new state would eventually incorporate 50 counties. The issue of slavery in the new state delayed approval of the bill. In the Senate Charles Sumner objected to the admission of a new slave state, while Benjamin Wade defended statehood as long as a gradual emancipation clause would be included in the new state constitution.[6] Two senators represented the Unionist Virginia government, John S. Carlile and Waitman T. Willey. Senator Carlile objected that Congress had no right to impose emancipation on West Virginia, while Willey proposed a compromise amendment to the state constitution for gradual abolition. Sumner attempted to add his own amendment to the bill, which was defeated, and the statehood bill passed both houses of Congress with the addition of what became known as the Willey Amendment. President Lincoln signed the bill on December 31, 1862. Voters in western Virginia approved the Willey Amendment on March 26, 1863.[7]

President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, which exempted from emancipation the border states (four slave states loyal to the Union) as well as some territories occupied by Union forces within Confederate states. Two additional counties were added to West Virginia in late 1863, Berkeley and Jefferson. The slaves in Berkeley were also under exemption but not those in Jefferson County. As of the census of 1860, the 49 exempted counties held some 6000 slaves over 21 years of age who would not have been emancipated, about 40% of the total slave population.[8] The terms of the Willey Amendment only freed children, at birth or as they came of age, and prohibited the importation of slaves.[9]

West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863, and the last slave state admitted to the Union.[10][11][12] Eighteen months later, the West Virginia legislature completely abolished slavery,[13] and also ratified the 13th Amendment on February 3, 1865.

End of slavery

USA Map 1864 including Civil War Divisions
Division of states during the Civil War. Blue represents Union states, including those admitted during the war; light blue represents border states; red represents Confederate states. Unshaded areas were not states before or during the Civil War.

At the start of the Civil War, there were 34 states in the United States, 15 of which were slave states. Eleven of these slave states, after conventions devoted to the topic, issued declarations of secession from the United States and created the Confederate States of America and were represented in the Confederate Congress.[14][15] The slave states that stayed in the Union, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, and Kentucky (called border states) remained seated in the U.S. Congress. By the time the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, Tennessee was already in Union control. Accordingly, the Proclamation applied only to the 10 remaining Confederate states. Abolition of slavery, as mandated by the Thirteenth Amendment, was a requirement for readmission of the conquered Confederate states.

The border states of Maryland (November 1864)[16] and Missouri (January 1865),[17] one of the Confederate states, Tennessee (January 1865),[18] and the new state of West Virginia, separated from Virginia in 1863 over the issue of slavery,[19] abolished slavery just prior to the end of the Civil War in May, 1865. The U.S. Congress, after the departure of the dominant, powerful Southern contingent in 1861, was firmly abolitionist: slavery in the District of Columbia, which the Southern contingent had insisted on retaining, was abolished in 1862.[20] However, slavery persisted in Delaware,[21] Kentucky,[22] and 10 of the 11 of the former Confederate states, until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery throughout the United States on December 6, 1865, ending the distinction between slave and free states.[23]

See also


  1. ^ Betty Wood, Slavery in Colonial America, 1619–1776 (2013) excerpt and text search
  2. ^ a b c Painter, Nell Irvin (2006). Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present. Oxford University Press. pp. 70–72. ISBN 978-0195137569.
  3. ^ Foner, Eric (2010). The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-19-513755-2.
  4. ^ Wilson, Black Codes (1965), p. 15. "By 1775, inspired by those 'self-evident' truths which were to be expressed by the Declaration of Independence, a considerable number of colonists felt that the time had come to end slavery and give the free Negroes some fruits of liberty. This sentiment, added to economic considerations, led to the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery in six northern states, while there was a swelling flood of private manumissions in the South. Little actual gain was made by the free Negro even in this period, and by the turn of the century the downward trend had begun again. Thereafter the only important change in that trend before the Civil War was that after 1831 the decline in the status of the free Negro became more precipitate."
  5. ^ Nicole Etcheson. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era (2006). ch 1.
  6. ^ James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, W.W. Norton, 2012, pgs. 296-97
  7. ^ "West Virginians Approve the Willey Amendment". Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  8. ^ "University of Virginia Library". Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  9. ^ "Willey Amendment". Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  10. ^ Alton Hornsby, Jr.,Black America, A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia, Greenwood, 2011, vol. 2, pg. 922
  11. ^ "West Virginia Statehood". Archived from the original on March 7, 2007. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  12. ^ "African-Americans in West Virginia". Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  13. ^ "On This Day in West Virginia History - February 3". Archived from the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
  14. ^ Martis, Kenneth C. (1994). The Historical Atlas of the Congresses of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865. Simon & Schuster. p. 7. ISBN 0-02-920170-5.
  15. ^ Only Virginia, Tennessee and Texas held referendums to ratify their Fire-Eater declarations of secession, and Virginia's excluded Unionist county votes and included Confederate troops in Richmond voting as regiments viva voce.Dabney, Virginius. (1983). Virginia: The New Dominion, a History from 1607 to the Present. Doubleday. p. 296. ISBN 9780813910154.
  16. ^ "Archives of Maryland Historical List: Constitutional Convention, 1864". November 1, 1864. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  17. ^ "Missouri abolishes slavery". January 11, 1865. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  18. ^ "Tennessee State Convention: Slavery Declared Forever Abolished". The New York Times. January 14, 1865. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  19. ^ "On this day: 1865-FEB-03". Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  20. ^ American Memory "Abolition in the District of Columbia", Today in History, Library of Congress, viewed December 15, 2014. On April 16, 1862, Lincoln signed a Congressional act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia with compensation for slave owners, five months before the victory at Antietam led to the Emancipation Proclamation.
  21. ^ "Slavery in Delaware". Retrieved January 21, 2017.
  22. ^ Harrison, Lowell H.; Klotter, James C. (1997). A New History of Kentucky. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. p. 180. ISBN 0813126215. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  23. ^ Kocher, Greg (February 23, 2013). "Kentucky supported Lincoln's efforts to abolish slavery — 111 years late | Lexington Herald-Leader". Retrieved January 21, 2017.

External links

Corwin Amendment

The Corwin Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that would shield "domestic institutions" of the states from the federal constitutional amendment process and from abolition or interference by Congress. Although the Corwin Amendment does not explicitly mention slavery, it was designed specifically to protect slavery from federal power. Congress proposed the Corwin Amendment on March 2, 1861, shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War, but it was not ratified by the requisite number of states.

In the period after the 1860 presidential election, several Southern states announced their secession and eventually formed the Confederate States of America. During this period, several legislative measures, including the Corwin Amendment, were proposed in the hope of either reconciling the sections of the United States, or avoiding the secession of the border states. Senator William H. Seward and Representative Thomas Corwin introduced the Corwin Amendment, which was endorsed by President James Buchanan. The amendment had been ratified by just five states by June 1863, far short of the number required for ratification, with the amendment falling out of favor during the Civil War.

Free State of Jones (film)

Free State of Jones is a 2016 American historical period war film inspired by the life of Newton Knight and his armed revolt against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi, throughout the American Civil War. Written and directed by Gary Ross, the film stars Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, and Keri Russell.

It was released in the United States by STXfilms on June 24, 2016. It received mixed reviews from critics and grossed only $25 million against its $50 million production budget.

Galusha A. Grow

Galusha Aaron Grow (August 31, 1823 – March 31, 1907) was a prominent American politician, lawyer, writer and businessman, who served as 24th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1861 to 1863. Elected as a Democrat in the 1850 congressional elections, he switched to the newly-organized Republican Party in the mid-1850s when the Democratic Party refused to prohibit the extension of slavery into western territories.

Elected speaker for the 37th Congress, Grow presided over the House during the initial years of the American Civil War. During his tenure Congress passed the landmark Homestead Act of 1862, which he supported. Grow was defeated for reelection in 1862. For over a century he remained the last incumbent House speaker to be defeated, until Speaker Tom Foley lost his seat in 1994.After leaving office he continued to speak out on political issues, but did not serve in elective office. Then, 31 years after leaving office, Grow won an 1894 special election to succeed William Lilly. It remains one of the longest known interregnums between terms of service for a House member. Over the course of his career, Grow represented the people of three Pennsylvania congressional districts: the 12th district (1851–1853), 14th district (1853–1863), and Pennsylvania's at-large congressional district (1894–1903).

History of Cincinnati

Cincinnati was founded in late December 1788 by Mathias Denman, Colonel Robert Patterson and Israel Ludlow. The original surveyor, John Filson, named it "Losantiville", from four terms, each of different language, before his death in October 1788. It means "The city opposite the mouth of the river"; "ville" is French for "city", "anti" is Greek for "opposite", "os" is Latin for "mouth", and "L" was all that was included of "Licking River".

List of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives elections

In the United States Congress, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives elections are held when the House of Representatives first convenes after a general election for its two-year term, or when a Speaker of the House dies, resigns or is removed from the position intra-term. The speaker is the political and parliamentary leader of the House, and is simultaneously the body's presiding officer, the de facto leader of the body's majority party, and the institution's administrative head.There have been 126 elections for speaker since the office was created in 1789. Traditionally, each party's caucus or conference selects a candidate for speaker from among its senior leaders prior to the vote. Prior to 1839, the House elected its speaker by paper ballot, but since, on all but three occasions, has done so by roll call vote. A majority of votes cast (as opposed to a majority of the full membership of the House) is necessary to elect a speaker. By House precedents, votes of present are not to be included in the official vote total, only votes cast for a person by name are; even so, they have been counted on several occasions.If no candidate receives a majority vote, then the roll call is repeated until a speaker is elected. In the longest speaker election in House history, 133 ballots (cast over a two month period) were needed before representatives chose Nathaniel Banks as their presiding officer for the 34th Congress (1855–1857). Multiple roll calls have been necessary only 14 times since 1789, and not since 1923.Representatives are not restricted to voting for the candidate nominated by their party, but generally do. Additionally, as the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly state that the speaker must be an incumbent member of the House, it is permissible for representatives to vote for someone who is not a member of the House at the time, and non-members have received a few votes in various speaker elections over the past several years. Nevertheless, every person elected speaker has been a member.Altogether, 54 people have served as speaker over the past 230 years; 32 of them served multiple terms (seven of those served nonconsecutive terms). Sam Rayburn holds the record for electoral victories, with 10. He led the House from September 1940 to January 1947, January 1949 to January 1953, and January 1955 to November 1961. The youngest person elected as speaker was Robert M. T. Hunter in December 1839, at age 30; the oldest person elected for the first time was Henry T. Rainey in March 1933, at age 72. In most recent election for speaker, held January 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress, members elected Nancy Pelosi to the office. She had previously led the House from January 2007 to January 2011, and is the first woman to serve as speaker.

List of United States political catchphrases

The following is a chronological list of political catchphrases throughout the history of the United States government. This is not necessarily a list of historical quotes, but phrases that have been commonly referenced or repeated within various political contexts.

Missouri Compromise

The Missouri Compromise was the legislation that provided for the admission of Maine to the United States as a free state along with Missouri as a slave state, thus maintaining the balance of power between North and South in the United States Senate. As part of the compromise, slavery was prohibited north of the 36°30′ parallel, excluding Missouri. The 16th United States Congress passed the legislation on March 3, 1820, and President James Monroe signed it on March 6, 1820.Earlier, on February 4, 1820, Representative James Tallmadge Jr., a Jeffersonian Republican from New York, submitted two amendments to Missouri's request for statehood, which included restrictions on slavery. Southerners objected to any bill which imposed federal restrictions on slavery, believing that slavery was a state issue settled by the Constitution. However, with the Senate evenly split at the opening of the debates, both sections possessing 11 states, the admission of Missouri as a slave state would give the South an advantage. Northern critics including Federalists and Democratic-Republicans objected to the expansion of slavery into the Louisiana Purchase territory on the Constitutional inequalities of the three-fifths rule, which conferred Southern representation in the federal government derived from a states' slave population. Jeffersonian Republicans in the North ardently maintained that a strict interpretation of the Constitution required that Congress act to limit the spread of slavery on egalitarian grounds. "[Northern] Republicans rooted their antislavery arguments, not on expediency, but in egalitarian morality"; and "The Constitution, [said northern Jeffersonians] strictly interpreted, gave the sons of the founding generation the legal tools to hasten [the] removal [of slavery], including the refusal to admit additional slave states.".When free-soil Maine offered its petition for statehood, the Senate quickly linked the Maine and Missouri bills, making Maine admission a condition for Missouri entering the Union with slavery unrestricted. Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois added a compromise proviso, excluding slavery from all remaining lands of the Louisiana Purchase north of the 36° 30' parallel. The combined measures passed the Senate, only to be voted down in the House by those Northern representatives who held out for a free Missouri. Speaker of the House Henry Clay of Kentucky, in a desperate bid to break the deadlock, divided the Senate bills. Clay and his pro-compromise allies succeeded in pressuring half the anti-restrictionist House Southerners to submit to the passage of the Thomas proviso, while maneuvering a number of restrictionist House northerners to acquiesce in supporting Missouri as a slave state. The Missouri question in the 15th Congress ended in stalemate on March 4, 1819, the House sustaining its northern antislavery position, and the Senate blocking a slavery restricted statehood.

The Missouri Compromise was controversial at the time, as many worried that the country had become lawfully divided along sectional lines. The bill was effectively repealed in the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, and declared unconstitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). This increased tensions over slavery and eventually led to the Civil War.

Northwest Ordinance

The Northwest Ordinance (formally An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio, and also known as The Ordinance of 1787) enacted July 13, 1787, was an organic act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States. It created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River formed the territory's western boundary.

In the Treaty of Paris (1783), which formally ended the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain yielded this region to the United States. However, the Confederation Congress faced numerous problems gaining control of the land; these included: the unsanctioned movement of American settlers into the Ohio Valley, violent confrontations with the region's indigenous peoples, the ongoing presence of the British Army which continued to occupy forts in the region, and an empty U.S. treasury. The ordinance superseded the Land Ordinance of 1784 (which declared that states would one day be formed within the region) and the Land Ordinance of 1785 (which described how the Confederation Congress would sell the land to private citizens). Designed to serve as a blueprint for the development and settlement of the region, what the 1787 ordinance lacked was a strong central government to implement it. This need was addressed shortly thereafter, when the new federal government came into existence in 1789. The 1st United States Congress reaffirmed the 1787 ordinance, and, with slight modifications, renewed it through the Northwest Ordinance of 1789.Considered one of the most important legislative acts of the Confederation Congress, it established the precedent by which the Federal government would be sovereign and expand westward with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles of Confederation. It also set legislative precedent with regard to American public domain lands. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the authority of the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 within the applicable Northwest Territory as constitutional in Strader v. Graham, but did not extend the Ordinance to cover the respective states once they were admitted to the Union.

The prohibition of slavery in the territory had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the geographic divide between slave states and free states from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River (an extension of the Mason–Dixon line). It also helped set the stage for later political conflicts over slavery at the federal level in the 19th century until the Civil War.

Origins of the American Civil War

Historians debating the origins of the American Civil War focus on the reasons why seven Southern states declared their secession from the United States (the Union), why they united to form the Confederate States of America (simply known as the "Confederacy"), and why the North refused to let them go. While most historians agree that conflicts over slavery caused the war, they disagree sharply regarding which kinds of conflict—ideological, economic, political, or social—were most important.The primary catalyst for secession was slavery, most immediately the political battle over the right of Southerners to bring slavery into western territory that had hitherto been free under the terms of the Missouri Compromise or while part of Mexico. Another factor for secession and the formation of the Confederacy, was white Southern nationalism. The primary reason for the North to reject secession was to preserve the Union, a cause based on American nationalism. Most of the debate is about the first question, as to why some Southern states decided to secede.

Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election without being on the ballot in ten Southern states. His victory triggered declarations of secession by seven slave states of the Deep South, whose riverfront or coastal economies were all based on cotton cultivated using slave labor. They formed the Confederate States of America after Lincoln was elected, but before he took office. Nationalists (in the North and "Unionists" in the South) refused to recognize the declarations of secession. No foreign government ever recognized the Confederacy. The U.S. government under President James Buchanan refused to relinquish its forts that were in territory claimed by the Confederacy. The war itself began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces bombarded Fort Sumter, a major U.S. fortress in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

As a panel of historians emphasized in 2011, "while slavery and its various and multifaceted discontents were the primary cause of disunion, it was disunion itself that sparked the war." Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Potter wrote: "The problem for Americans who, in the age of Lincoln, wanted slaves to be free was not simply that southerners wanted the opposite, but that they themselves cherished a conflicting value: they wanted the Constitution, which protected slavery, to be honored, and the Union, which had fellowship with slaveholders, to be preserved. Thus they were committed to values that could not logically be reconciled." Other important factors were partisan politics, abolitionism, nullification vs secession, Southern and Northern nationalism, expansionism, economics and modernization in the Antebellum period.

Presidency of James Buchanan

The presidency of James Buchanan began on March 4, 1857, when James Buchanan was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, took office as the 15th United States president after defeating former President Millard Fillmore of the American Party, and John C. Frémont of the Republican Party in the 1856 presidential election.

Buchanan was nominated by the Democratic Party at its 1856 convention, where he defeated both the incumbent President Franklin Pierce and Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Despite his long experience in government, Buchanan was unable to calm the growing sectional crisis that would divide the nation at the close of his term. Prior to taking office, Buchanan lobbied the Supreme Court to issue a broad ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Though Buchanan hoped that the Court's ruling would end the dispute over slavery in the territories, Buchanan's support of the ruling deeply alienated many Northerners. Buchanan also joined with Southern leaders in attempting to gain the admission of Kansas to the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution. In the midst of the growing chasm between slave states and free states, the Panic of 1857 struck the nation, causing widespread business failures and high unemployment.

Tensions over slavery continued to the end of Buchanan's term. Buchanan had promised in his inaugural address to serve just one term, and with the ongoing national turmoil over slavery, no one asked him to rescind his pledge. Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln, running on a platform devoted to keeping slavery out of all Western territories, defeated the splintered Democratic Party and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell to win the 1860 election. In response to Lincoln's victory, seven Southern states declared their secession from the Union. Buchanan refused to confront the seceded states with military force, but retained control of Fort Sumter. The secession crisis culminated in outbreak of the American Civil War shortly after Buchanan left office.

Presidency of James Monroe

The presidency of James Monroe began on March 4, 1817, when James Monroe was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1825. Monroe, the fifth United States president, took office after winning the 1816 presidential election by an overwhelming margin over Federalist Rufus King. This election was the last in which the Federalists fielded a presidential candidate, and Monroe was unopposed in the 1820 presidential election. A member of the Democratic-Republican Party, Monroe was succeeded by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.

Monroe sought to eliminate political parties, and the Federalist Party faded as a national institution during his presidency. The Democratic-Republicans also stopped functioning as a unified political party, and the period during which Monroe served as president is often referred to as the "Era of Good Feelings" due to the lack of partisan conflict. Domestically, Monroe faced the Panic of 1819, the first major recession in the United States since the ratification of the Constitution. He supported many federally-funded infrastructure projects, but vetoed other projects due to constitutional concerns. Monroe supported the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but excluded slavery in the remaining territories north of the parallel 36°30′ north.

In foreign policy, Monroe and Secretary of State Adams acquired East Florida from Spain with the Adams–Onís Treaty, realizing a long-term goal of Monroe and his predecessors. Reached after the First Seminole War, the Adams–Onís Treaty also solidified U.S. control over West Florida, established the western border of the United States, and included the cession of Spain's claims on Oregon Country. The Monroe administration also reached two treaties with Britain, marking a rapprochement between the two countries in the aftermath of the War of 1812. The Rush–Bagot Treaty demilitarized the U.S. border with British North America, while the Treaty of 1818 settled some boundary disputes and provided for the joint settlement of Oregon Country. Monroe was deeply sympathetic to the revolutionary movements in Latin America and opposed European influence in the region. In 1823, Monroe promulgated the Monroe Doctrine, which declared that the U.S. would remain neutral in European affairs, but would not accept new colonization of Latin America by European powers.

In the 1824 presidential election, four members of the Democratic-Republican Party sought to succeed Monroe, who remained neutral among the candidates. Adams emerged as the victor over General Andrew Jackson and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford in a contingent election. Polls of historians and political scientists have generally ranked Monroe as an above-average president.

Presidency of Millard Fillmore

The presidency of Millard Fillmore began on July 9, 1850, when Millard Fillmore became President of the United States upon the death of Zachary Taylor, and ended on March 4, 1853. Fillmore had been Vice President of the United States for 1 year, 4 months when he became the 13th United States president. Fillmore was the second president to succeed to the office without being elected to it, after John Tyler, as well as the last Whig president. Fillmore was succeeded by Democrat Franklin Pierce.

Upon taking office, Fillmore dismissed Taylor's cabinet and pursued a new policy with regards to the territory acquired in the Mexican–American War. He supported the efforts of Senators Henry Clay and Stephen A. Douglas, who crafted and passed the Compromise of 1850. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the status of slavery in the lands acquired as result of the Mexican–American War, and led to a brief truce in the political battle between slave and free states. A controversial part of the Compromise was the Fugitive Slave Act, which expedited the return of escaped slaves to those who claimed ownership. Fillmore felt himself duty-bound to enforce it, but his support of the policy damaged his popularity and split both the Whig Party and the nation. In foreign policy, Fillmore's launched the Perry Expedition to open trade in Japan, moved to block the French annexation of Hawaii, and avoided war with Spain in the aftermath of Narciso López's filibuster expeditions to Cuba.

Fillmore somewhat reluctantly sought his party's nomination for a full term, but the split between supporters of Fillmore and Secretary of State Daniel Webster led to the nomination of General Winfield Scott at the 1852 Whig National Convention. Pierce defeated Scott by a wide margin in the general election. Historians generally rank Fillmore as a below average president.

Richard Lyons, 1st Viscount Lyons

Richard Bickerton Pemell Lyons, 1st Earl Lyons, 1st Viscount Lyons, 2nd Baron Lyons, 2nd Baronet, of Christchurch (26 April 1817 – 5 December 1887) was an eminent British diplomat, the favourite of Queen Victoria. Lyons was the most influential British diplomat during each of the four great crises of the second half of the 19th century: Italian unification; the American Civil War; the Eastern Question; and the replacement of France by Germany as the dominant Continental power subsequent to German Unification. Lyons is best known for solving the Trent Affair during the American Civil War; for laying the foundations for the Special Relationship and the Entente Cordiale; and for predicting, 32 years before World War One, the occurrence of an imperial war between France and Germany that would destroy Britain's international dominance.

He served as British Ambassador to the United States from 1858 to 1865, during the American Civil War; British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1865 to 1867; and British Ambassador to France from 1867 to 1887, which was then the most prestigious position in the Civil Service. Famous for his tact, equability towards foreign peoples, staunchness, stoicism, and opulent dinner parties, Lyons was offered the Cabinet position of Foreign Secretary on three separate occasions, by three separate Prime Ministers (Gladstone, Disraeli, Salisbury) and encouraged to accept the post by Queen Victoria, but declined the offer on all three occasions. Lyons was a Francophile, and, although he maintained nominal party neutrality, an advocate of the Tory Party and monarchist whose sympathies were closest to those of 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, his closest political ally.

Lyons – who was distrusted by Gladstonian Liberals as a 'Tory-leaning diplomat' – founded the Tory-sympathetic 'Lyons School' of British diplomacy: which consisted of Sir Edwin Egerton; Sir Maurice de Bunsen; Sir Michael Herbert; Sir Edward Baldwin Malet; Sir Frank Lascelles; Sir Gerard Lowther; Sir Edmund Monson, 1st Baronet; and Sir Nicholas O'Conor. Lyons's biographer Jenkins (2014), in the most recent biography of Lyons, considers him to be the exemplar of the British diplomat, of the ‘Foreign Office mind’, who created a canon of practical norms of British imperial diplomacy, including the necessity for neutrality in domestic party politics and the necessity for extensive confidential correspondence with various Cabinet ministers.

Lyons was the eldest son of Edmund Lyons, 1st Baron Lyons; the cousin of Sir Algernon Lyons, Admiral of the Fleet and First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria; and the cousin of Richard Lyons Pearson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Sam Houston

Sam Houston (March 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863) was an American soldier and politician. An important leader of the Texas Revolution, Houston served as the 1st and 3rd president of the Republic of Texas, and was one of the first two individuals to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He also served as the 6th Governor of Tennessee and the seventh governor of Texas, the only American to be elected governor of two different states in the United States.

Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Houston and his family migrated to Maryville, Tennessee when Houston was a teenager. Houston later ran away from home and spent time with the Cherokee, becoming known as "Raven." He served under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, and after the war he presided over the removal of many Cherokee from Tennessee. With the support of Jackson and others, Houston won election to the United States House of Representatives in 1823. He strongly supported Jackson's presidential candidacies, and in 1827 Houston won election as the governor of Tennessee. In 1829, after divorce his first wife, Houston resigned from office, and joined his Cherokee friends in Arkansas Territory.

Houston settled in Texas in 1832. After the Battle of Gonzales, Houston helped organize Texas's provisional government and was selected as the top-ranking official in the Texian Army. He led the Texian Army to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle in Texas's war for independence against Mexico. After the war, Houston won election in the 1836 Texas presidential election. He left office due to term limits in 1838, but won election to another term in the 1841 Texas presidential election. Houston played a key role in the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845, and in 1846 he was elected to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He joined the Democratic Party and supported President James K. Polk's prosecution of the Mexican–American War.

Houston's Senate record was marked by his unionism and opposition to extremists from both the North and South. He voted for the Compromise of 1850, which settled many of the territorial issues left over from the Mexican–American War and the annexation of Texas. He later voted against the Kansas–Nebraska Act because he believed it would lead to increased sectional tensions over slavery, and his opposition to that act led him to leave the Democratic Party. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidential nomination of the American Party in the 1856 presidential election and the Constitutional Union Party in the 1860 presidential election. In 1859, Houston won election as the governor of Texas. In that role, he opposed secession and unsuccessfully sought to keep Texas out of the Confederate States of America. He was forced out of office in 1861 and died in 1863. Houston's name has been honored in numerous ways, and he is the namesake of the city of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States.

Texan Santa Fe Expedition

The Texan Santa Fe Expedition was a commercial and military expedition to secure the Republic of Texas's claims to parts of Northern New Mexico for Texas in 1841. The expedition was unofficially initiated by the then President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, in an attempt to gain control over the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and further develop the trade links between Texas and New Mexico. The initiative was a major component of Lamar's ambitious plan to turn the fledgling republic into a continental power, which the President believed had to be achieved as quickly as possible to stave off the growing movement demanding the annexation of Texas to the United States. Lamar's administration had already started courting the New Mexicans, sending out a commissioner in 1840, and many Texans thought that they might be favorable to the idea of joining the Republic of Texas.

Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-1800s, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states, Canada and Nova Scotia with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Various other routes led to Mexico or overseas. An earlier escape route running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession (except 1763–83), existed from the late 17th century until Florida became a United States territory in 1821 (ending the safe haven for escaped slaves was the main reason Florida changed nationality). However, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the late 1700s, and it ran north to the free states and Canada, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the "Railroad".British North America (present-day Canada), where slavery was prohibited, was a popular destination, as its long border gave many points of access. Most former slaves settled in Ontario. More than 30,000 people were said to have escaped there via the network during its 20-year peak period, although U.S. Census figures account for only 6,000. Numerous fugitives' stories are documented in the 1872 book The Underground Railroad Records by William Still, an abolitionist who then headed the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee.

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