Ch 42: Sectional Crisis & the Start of the Civil War (1850-1861)

About This Chapter

Use these video lessons and quizzes to learn about the events that led up to the U.S. Civil War, including the abolitionist movement. Find out more about the politics of the pre-war era, such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the Dred Scott decision.

Sectional Crisis & the Start of the Civil War (1850-1861) - Chapter Summary

The lessons in this chapter look at the decades-long tension over slavery and states' rights that finally exploded in the U.S. Civil War. Our instructors talk about how the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin influenced public opinion. You'll learn about the events of Bloody Kansas, and study the impact of the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.

The significance of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 is examined, as is Lincoln's election as president. You'll also see how the fighting started at Fort Sumter. When you've finished these lessons, you'll have better knowledge of topics including:

  • Leaders of the abolitionist movement
  • Causes and impact of Bloody Kansas
  • President James Buchanan's policies
  • John Brown and the Harpers Ferry raid
  • Southern secession

These lessons are available anytime on a computer, tablet or smartphone. They're accompanied by a written transcript that lets you read along with the instructor. A clickable timeline links back to key parts of the lesson, making it simple to revisit areas that are giving you trouble.

7 Lessons in Chapter 42: Sectional Crisis & the Start of the Civil War (1850-1861)
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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