Conflicts Between Liberty & Equality in Pre-Civil War America

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​The conflicts between liberty and equality in America have ranged between minor disagreements to full-out war. The most obvious contingent in the struggle between liberty and equality is slavery, but there was also friction in the women’s suffrage movement and various other attempts to provide equal rights under the law. ​While slavery in the United States always had its opponents, it wasn’t until 1787 that these detractors started to cause real obstacles for slave owners. During the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, one of the issues raised was whether slaves would be counted as part of the population in determining representation in the United States Congress or considered property not entitled to representation. In a head-to-head battle for power between the generally abolitionist northern states and the generally pro-slavery southern states, compromises of ½ proposed by Benjamin Harrison and ¾ by several New Englanders were rejected with the consensus finally agreeing on a 3/5 compromise proposed by James Madison. The 3/5 Compromise carried a heavy political toll in early America and gave the southern states a distinct political advantage until the abolition of slavery in 1865 with the ratification of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution. ​Most northeastern states abolished slavery due to influential local campaigns. The settlement of newer Midwestern states by Yankees and Northerners established abolition in these new states as well. After Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1781, the Mason-Dixon line became the line of demarcation between the free northern states and the slave states of the south. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 by Eli Whitney caused the slave trade in the southern US to expand and become a central driving force in the southern economy. Lands acquired after the Mexican-American War ended in 1848 raised the issue of slavery in these new territories. Once again, another compromise was reached whereby the occupants of the new...
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