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Ch 9: Buildup to the American Civil War

About This Chapter

Watch video lessons and learn about the political factors and confrontational events that led up to the start of the American Civil War. Reinforce your learning with the self-assessment quizzes that follow each lesson.

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

VideoObjective
Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension over Slavery in the 1850sDescribe 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 EventsDiscuss the violence that occurred in the new state of Kansas following a proslavery ballot initiative.
Dred Scott vs. Sanford and President BuchananExplain 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 SlaveryDescribe what happened during and after the abolitionist uprising at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary and SignificanceDiscuss 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 ConfederacyExplain 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 WarDescribe how the South Carolina assault on a military island outpost and the federal response led to the start of the Civil War.

7 Lessons in Chapter 9: Buildup to the American Civil War
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension Over Slavery in the 1850s

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.

Bloody Kansas: Causes, Effects and Summary of 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.

Dred Scott v. Sanford and President Buchanan

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.

John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry: Fighting Slavery

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.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary & Significance

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.

Lincoln's Election, Southern Secession & the New Confederacy

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.

The Battle of Fort Sumter & the Start of the Civil War

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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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