America Pre-Civil War
Civil war in America was inevitable from the beginning. A country can not partake in slavery without an uproar. Tensions were high between the north and the south already because of their different ways of life. The north focused on mass production whereas the south’s biggest trade was agriculture. Slavery allowed the south to prosper, their whole economy was based off of it. Though change was inevitable two documents that sped up the war process were the Fugitive Slave Act and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Fugitive Slave Laws prohibited the harboring of run away slaves. It was first passed in 1793 but was amended later to reduce tensions, though it had the opposite affect. Some say it nationalized the crisis because it forced the North, in a way, to partake in slavery. Under the new act of 1850 the government appointed federal agents to track and find runaways. Abolitionists viewed this as basically legalized kidnap. “Commissioners who decided that an accused person was a runaway received a larger fee than if they declared the person legally free” (Craig Campanella 318). Harboring slaves was severally punished with large fines or even imprisonment. The laws were harsh. They did not give blacks the right to testify for themselves in court, it was the slave owner’s word against their own. As Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia points out “The law was so weighted against the fugitives that many Northerners, formerly unconcerned, were now aroused to opposition” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) Because of these new laws passed many black northerners felt as if they were subjected to slavery again after having been granted their freedom. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin also brought a new aspect to pre-Civil War America. It humanized black slaves in a very real way, igniting new vigor in those who were previously indifferent to slavery. Stowe’s inspiration for the novel is due largely to the fugitive slave act. It as...
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