Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The constitution 1850-1861

There were many causes for the separation of the union. Many people argue that the Constitution, which was a symbol of the national unity, contributed to its division. This is true in some ways, but it did not happen immediately. Many events, such as the passing of the Fugitive Slave and Kentucky-Nebraska Acts, gradually built up the tension between North and South, until the union collapsed. Even though the Compromise of 1850 was meant to solve the crisis, it only created more tension between the north and south.The main purposes of the compromise were to admit California into the union as a free state, and divide the Mexican Cession into two territories – Utah and New Mexico. The slavery issue in these states was do be decided by popular sovereignty. The compromise also proved for a Fugitive Slave Law, and banned the slave trade in the District of Columbia. The Fugitive Slave Law, which was part of the compromise, also caused a lot of controversy. The main purpose of the law was to allow the capture and return of slaves that escaped into the northern states back to their original owners.Special commissioners were authorized to arrest the escapees. Even if the captured person was a free black, they were still denied the right of a fair trial. Anyone who opposed the arrest of a slave was to be punished. The Southerners were not entirely favorable to the law, because they were forced to loose California. The North also reacted negatively to the enforcement of the new law. Many people like Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the Fugitive Slave Law was in a way contradictory to the Constitution itself. He said that it is considered a crime to enslave a man in Africa, while it is also â€Å"high crime and misdemeanor, punishable with fine and imprisonment, to resist the reenslaving a man on the coast of America† (Emerson).Another example of this would be the President James Buchanan's fourth annual message to congress. Buchanan did not want the southern sta tes to secede. However he did not want to use armed forces to stop them either. Buchanan argued that the Congress had no power to stop a state from withdrawing from the union. He said â€Å"that no such power has been delegated to congress† (Buchanan). The Kansas-Nebraska bill was another good example. The bill proposed that the Nebraska territory was to be divided into Kansas and Nebraska territories. The settlers would then decide whether slavery should be allowed. Southern slave owners favored this bill because it removed the boundaries set by the Missouri Compromise.The southerners were  in a way â€Å"forcing slavery down the throat of the freesoliers† in Kansas. The law outraged northern Democrats, and this created even more tension. Though not the only reason, disputes over the meaning of the Constitution played a big role leading up to the Civil War. What was once established to unite the nation now lead to its separation.

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