Chapter 14

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John Brown (PENG)

Ardent abolitionist nomad who was totally fixed on ending slavery; led the “Bleeding Kansas” revolt and latter the Harper’s Ferry Raid, in conjunction with his beliefs that violence was the only way to success (peaceful abolitionists were just talk); even though he was passionate enough, his attacks were to emotional and violent to be successful; he was captured after the Harper’s Ferry Raid (his two sons were killed in the process)

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Daniel Webster (PENG)

MA Senator who addressed the Senate to institute a compromise: recognized both sides’ arguments, need to preserve the Union (main purpose of the government at this point) and prevent Southern secession/civil war (one and the same), need to end the North’s stupid proposals (like the Wilmot Proviso), and mentioned that a legal ban on slavery was unnecessary because the southwestern states up for debate wouldn’t support cotton crops anyways; precursor to the Omnibus Bill and the Compromise of 1850

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William Seward (PENG)

NY Senator who responded to Clay’s and Webster’s arguments for slavery by calling them immoral, rejected Calhoun in general, and argued that there was “higher law than the Constitution” – the law of God – to ensure freedom in all the public domain; basically arguing that God was a Free Soil Party advocate, heightened tensions in an already supremely tense political atmosphere

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Stephen A. Douglas (PENG)

IL Democratic Senator who broke Clay’s Omnibus Bill into its various parts and skillfully ushered each through Congress, known as the Compromise of 1850 (all the bills held collectively)

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Harriet Beecher Stowe (PENG)

Author if Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Northern white woman who had never been on a plantation – nonetheless, she managed to bring slavery to life for unaware Northerners; wrote the book to expose the sin of slavery; sold 2+ million copies in its first ten years; aimed her plot at revealing the massive destruction slavery impacted on families; idealized by the North, denounced as slander in the South; solidified the North/South divide

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James Buchanan (PENG)

Democrat elect, from PA, “doughface” (easily malleable to gain votes for the Democratic party – avoiding the slavery debate); he bridged the sectional differences that provided so much difficulty for the existing political parties because he was a northerner with southern principles; he led the Dems in taking refuge in the ambiguity of popular sovereignty and portrayed the Republicans as extremists whose support for the Wilmot Proviso risked Southern secession

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Charles Sumner (PENG)

Senator who called from “one grand Northern party of Freedom;” developed the Free Soil Party in 1848; had limited success in gaining both Northern and Southern support by contorting their message to appeal to both sides; marked the way the existing political party (Whigs and Democrats) had been totally shaken up by the regional struggle over slavery

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Roger B. Taney (PENG)

Supreme Court Chief Justice who presided over the Dred Scott Case; his distaste for both Republicans and racial equality inextricably influenced the Court’s decision, which he wrote; seemed to be a pro-slavery decision on the part of Congress, outraged Republicans

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Jefferson Davis (PENG)

Mississippian who provided a last-minute compromise during the acrimonious and tension filled election of the Speaker of the House (the Democrats and Republicans were not being cooperative, to say the least) on the eve of the secession crisis and the Civil War; he demanded that the Senate adopt a federal slave code for the territories arguing that Congress was powerless to block slavery’s spread but was responsible to protect the institution of slavery; president of the Confederate States of America

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Harpers Ferry Raid (PENG)

October 1859: John Brown led just 21 men (including 5 black men) – supported financially by his long-standing Northern fundraising – in taking the town’s armory in an attempt to lead anti-slavery protests; he was surrounded and then attacked (after they refused to surrender); Brown was captured in the process

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Wilmot Proviso (PENG)

PA Democrat David Wilmot’s proposal that slavery bar slavery from all lands acquired from the war with Mexico; gained support from abolitionists and anti-Southerners in the North; also turned into a racism debate, with many white supremacist Northerners supporting the proviso because they wanted to reserve the land for whites; passed in the Northern majority House, but later defeated in the Southern-dominated Senate; precursor to the idea of popular sovereignty

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Popular Sovereignty (PENG)

Idea that government is subject to the will of the people; before the Civil War, this was the idea that the residents of a territory should determine, through their legislatures, whether to allow slavery; got the slavery debate out of Congress (North/South stalemate) and into the far away Western territories)

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Free Soil Party (PENG)

Idea advanced in the 1840s that Congress should prohibit slavery within the western territories; “free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men” became the rallying cry of the short-lived Free-Soil Party

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Omnibus Bill (PENG)

Clay’s resolutions in a single comprehensive package; Clay believed that a desire for the Union’s peace/stability would override self-interest and states would support the Bill in its entirety even if they disagreed with specific points; backfired – voted down by Free-Soilers and pro-slavery Southerners alike; revamped into the Compromise of 1850

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Compromise of 1850 (PENG)

The Omnibus Bill broken into its various parts and skillfully ushered through Congress by Senator Douglas; mark of Douglas’ parliamentary skill, not a spirit of conciliation; temporary way to preserve the peace (and unity) in the Union; totally ignored the deeper conflict of slavery – not settled, just avoided; didn’tsolve any of the underlying issues

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Fugitive Slave Act (PENG)

1793 law that gave slave owners a license to kidnap free blacks who had escaped from their Southern plantations; 40 years later, in the 1830s, Northern states began passing “personal liberty laws” to protect fugitives; post-Compromise, Southerners attacked the northern interference and enforced a stricter version of the Fugitive Slave Law (gave a whole lot of power to masters and left slaves with no protection)

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Uncle Tom's Cabin (PENG)

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Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel that vividly depicts the brutality and heartlessness of the South via its support of slavery; aroused passions so deep that many found goodwill toward white Southerners nearly impossible to achieve

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Kansas-Nebraska Act (PENG)

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Divided the huge territory in two: Nebraska west of the free state of Iowa and Kansas west of the slave state of Missouri; government, in conjunction, pushed the Plains Indians farther west, making way for farmers and railroads

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Know Nothing Party/American Party (PENG)

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Nativists (anti-immigrants and anti-Roman Catholic); undercover political party that emerged after the fall of the Whigs; dazzling successes – captured state legislatures in the Northeast, South, and West and held dozens of Congress seats

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Republican Party (PENG)

Anti-slavery party that attempted to unite all the dissidents and political orphans – Whigs, Free Soilers, anti-Nebraska Dems, and even Know-Nothings – who opposed the extension of slavery into any territory in the US

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"Bleeding Kansas"(PENG)

Fight for Kansas, sparked by the notion of popular sovereignty introduced by Stephen Douglas, between Northerners (wanted a new free territory) and Southerners (wanted a new slave territory); two rival governments were formed, each with their own legislatures, and armed to the teeth to protect either their slavery- or freedom-centric sentiments – Kansas was on the verge of a civil war; John Brown was one of ardent fighters who ushered in an age of guerilla warfare into the region

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"Bleeding Sumner" (PENG)

After Sumner attacked SC Senator Andrew P. Butler in his speech (“The Crime against Kansas”), Butler’s kinsman Preston Brooks felt compelled to defend his honor (personal, professional, and that of SC); he entered the Senate one day and beat Sumner up; the event provided the Republican Party with a potent symbol of the South’s “twisted and violent civilization”

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Dred Scott Decision (PENG)

Supreme Court case in which slave, Dred Scott, was denied freedom on the grounds that 1) he was black and therefore not a citizen of the US, 2) because he was from Missouri (slave state), he would always be a slave (regardless of where he travelled to), and 3) Congress did not have the right to ban slavery; biased court (Taney); provided the Republican Party with plenty to talk about

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Panic of 1857 (PENG)

Nation’s economy experienced a sharp downturn – prices plummeted, thousands of businesses failed, and unemployment was on the rise; having happened right before the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Douglas was in a precarious position because his party (the Democrats) stood accused of causing the panic

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Lecompton Constitution (PENG)

Proslavery forces in Kansas met in the town of Lecompton, and applied for statehood; taking advantage of popular sovereignty and swindling the antislavery majority

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Freeport Doctrine (PENG)

In Freeport (the site of one of the L-D Debates), Douglas admitted that settlers could not now pass legislation barring slavery, but he argued that they could ban slavery just as effectively by not passing protective laws, such as those found in slave states; Southerners condemned him and this doctrine and charged him with trying to steal the victory they had gained with the Dred Scott decision (that slavery couldn’t be banned by the government)

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Lincoln-Douglas Debates (PENG)

Series of debates between Democrat candidate Douglas and Republican candidate Lincoln to secure the winner of the Illinois senate seat; revolved around the central issues of the age – slavery and freedom – and showed the citizens of Illinois (and the nation – newspapers, remember!) the difference between an anti-Lecompton Democrat and a true Republican; even though Douglas won the seat, Lincoln gained notoriety and did pretty well for himself

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Conferate States of America (PENG)

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South’s form of government post-secession; Upper South states formed their own confederacy after Lincoln’s election to protect the institution of slavery, the notion of white supremacy, and the continuation of Democratic politics; president: Jefferson Davis; threatened the Union, enraged Lincoln (who was totally fixed on preserving the Union, making slavery the secondary concern), and were the deciders of the Civil War

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Secession Crisis (VEERAMANI)

This occurred after 11 Southern States withdrew from the Union. It led to the civil war.

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Crittenden Compromise (VEERAMANI)

These were a series of compromises intended to prevent the Civil War from happening. They lasted from 1860 to 1861. They were also rejected by president Abraham Lincoln.

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"Fire eaters" (PENG)

Name for the radical Southerners who urged secession from the Union


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