About This Chapter
Buildup to the American Civil War - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives
Through the videos in this chapter, you'll have the opportunity to re-visit America during the 1850s, including the events and legislation that culminated in violent conflict between anti-slavery and pro-slavery states. At the beginning of the chapter, you'll learn how a major literary work transformed citizens into abolitionists. In addition to Harriet Beecher Stowe, you'll also meet John Brown, another opponent of slavery, who preferred the power of the weapon to the power of the pen.
A key part of the chapter covers the attempt of a slave and his lawyer to file a suit for freedom, which led to the infamous Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court. The instructor will also discuss the failure of James Buchanan's presidential diplomacy efforts and Abraham Lincoln's fiery House Divided speech. When you've finished watching the videos and completing the self-assessments, you should have an understanding of:
- The tenuous relationship that existed between slave and free states during the 1850s
- How abolitionist literature and the Fugitive Slave Act affected the Union
- The doctrine of popular sovereignty, including its major political proponents and opponents
- How the Bloody Kansas event encapsulated the pre-Civil War climate in the United States
- The Lincoln-Douglas debates and their impact on the Democratic Party and the Union
- How a presidential election and an attack on a fort initiated the start of the Civil War
|Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension over Slavery in the 1850s||Describe the political tensions that existed between abolitionists and slave owners, including how literary works were used to inform others about what it meant to be a slave.|
|Bloody Kansas: Causes, Effects and Summary of Events||Discuss the violence that occurred in the new state of Kansas following a proslavery ballot initiative.|
|Dred Scott vs. Sanford and President Buchanan||Explain how the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case affected the abolitionist movement and the presidency of James Buchanan.|
|John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry: Fighting Slavery||Describe what happened during and after the abolitionist uprising at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.|
|The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary and Significance||Discuss the seven debates that occurred between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, candidates for the Illinois Senate, including their views on popular sovereignty.|
|Lincoln's Election, Southern Secession and the New Confederacy||Explain the domino effect that occurred in the South following the election of President Lincoln.|
|The Battle of Fort Sumter and the Start of the Civil War||Describe how the South Carolina assault on a military island outpost and the federal response led to the start of the Civil War.|
1. Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension Over Slavery in the 1850s
Uncle Tom's Cabin captured the plight of slaves in the 1850s like no other book. The novel, coupled with the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act, served to further strain the country, which was at a breaking point over the issue of slavery. This lesson details these events.
2. Bloody Kansas: Causes, Effects and Summary of Events
The events in the Kansas territory were a microcosm of the violent forces shaping the United States in the decade of the 1850s, forces that would ultimately lead to a disintegration of the Union itself. This lesson details what has come to be known as Bleeding Kansas and its impact on the issue of slavery.
3. Dred Scott v. Sanford and President Buchanan
The Dred Scott decision was one of the most important turning points in the debate over slavery in the United States. It came during the presidency of James Buchanan, a man well qualified but ill suited for the job of keeping the nation together. This lesson discusses both as we attempt to understand the dynamics that led to the American Civil War.
4. John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry: Fighting Slavery
John Brown was a man of strong convictions - so strong that he was willing to fight, to kill, and to die for them. These abolitionist beliefs led him from Kansas to Virginia, where he would pay the ultimate price. This lesson tells that story.
5. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary & Significance
In an effort to secure their own appointments to the U.S. Senate, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas squared off in a series of seven debates in 1858. Find out why Douglas might have won in the short term but Lincoln won in the long term.
6. Lincoln's Election, Southern Secession & the New Confederacy
Learn about how Abraham Lincoln's election in the contentious 1860 presidential race set off a domino effect leading to the secession of South Carolina and six other states and the formation of the Confederate States of America.
7. The Battle of Fort Sumter & the Start of the Civil War
South Carolina's attack on a U.S. military outpost triggered the American Civil War. Learn more about the Battle of Fort Sumter and the consequences of the fort's surrender to the Confederacy.
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Other chapters within the US History: Middle School course
- First Contacts in the Americas
- Settling North America & the Colonies
- The Revolutionary War
- The Making of a Nation after the American Revolution
- The Virginia Dynasty
- Jacksonian Democracy
- Everyday Life in Antebellum America
- Manifest Destiny & American Expansion
- The American Civil War
- After the Civil War: Reconstruction
- American Industrialization of the Late 19th Century
- The Progressive Era of the Early 20th Century
- American Imperialism & World War I
- 1920s America
- America and the Great Depression
- America and the Second World War
- Post-War and the Cold War
- Civil Rights Movements in America
- America in the 1970s
- America in the 1980s
- America from 1992 to the Present