1850s DBQ

Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Compromise of 1850 Pages: 5 (1291 words) Published: December 12, 2014
1850s DBQ

Between 1850 and 1861, underlying issues and events brought about discord and tension in the United States. These issues revolved around the radically different views on morality, from the North’s views to the South’s. The tensions stemmed from views and understandings of the Constitution’s purpose and uses being in opposition to the viewpoint of the other territory. The tensions caused by the differing beliefs were slowly built up since the American Revolution. Slavery, being an established practice since America’s independence and a cause of the Civil War, was not an issue at the time, but was also left unresolved by the Founding Fathers. As time passed on, and as morals evolved, the views towards slavery changed as well. The original belief of slaves as nonhuman/property slowly progressed into slaves being lesser-humans. As beliefs changed, and the acceptance of slaves grew positively in the North, the basis of government became more and more unstable. With differing bases of thought, America’s ability to stay unified couldn’t happen with government trying to please both opposing sides, like found in the Compromise of 1850 (Doc 1). The Compromise attempted to alleviate the slavery situation that arose when California fulfilled the requirements to become an official state. The admittance of California threw off the Great Compromise and the Missouri Compromise. To counter that change, the Compromise made the New Mexico and Utah Territories free to become slave states via allowing them popular sovereignty. To add to the South-positive compromises, the Fugitive Slave Laws (Doc 3) were also employed, thus “balancing” the additions to both territories. The decision was technically correct for the event, as it settled the tension from the California, but in doing so, left the issue of slavery un-addressed and even strengthened slavery. The Compromise of 1850 only brought “compromise” in the regard of the free-slave states ratio, but greatly supported slavery in its addition of the Fugitive Slave Acts. The Acts brought slavery into the North, forcing non-slaveholders to aid slavery by turning in escaped slaves and wrongly-accused freedmen to Southern slave owners. Judges were also brought into the conflict by not only being the ones to give the verdict (free or slave), but were also forced into making a choice of earning a wage of $5 for freeing a black or $10 for condemning one. What also damaged the judges was the Constitution’s “Full Faith and Credit Clause”, which forced the judges to respect and enforce the Fugitive Slave Act over their own morals. The Constitution was used against the North, thus bringing forth the Compromise of 1850 as an event that spurred the North’s passion against the South and slavery later during the Civil War, that the blacks were humans, not property. The Fugitive Slave Laws were seen gravely by the North. The inability to be able to be protected by the hands of government/the Constitution brought the North to make slavery less of a political issue and more of a personal battle. The failed protection from the Constitution brought distrust into the North, distrust towards governments ability to equally protect the North’s rights as it did the South; a distrust that brought Lincoln to time the Emancipation Proclamation at the time he did, so that he would bring about the trust of the North into a solid fact. The Constitution was originally meant to help the people of the United States, but failed to regard slavery. But William Lloyd Garrison counters that by bringing in the fact that since slavery is not specifically in the Constitution, The Constitution “was never intended to give any protection or countenance to the slave system.” (Doc 5) Garrison, supporting his abolitionist allegiance, attempts to say that slavery wasn’t even intended to become a proper practice into the United States, and that it can’t be rightly protected by the Constitution. That the “three millions of the...
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