Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Compromise of 1850 Pages: 6 (2402 words) Published: April 15, 2013
Sectionalism Essay
During the 1850's, slavery, a southern necessity both socially and economically, threatened the unity of our nation. The tension's were high between the North and South, and further increased as more and more factors contributed to the strain in the Union. As an outcome of these factors, small and big, sectional hatred began to arise and commenced the splitting of the nation; ultimately leading to the American Civil War. The very first issue that caused sectionalism in the 1850's between the North and South was the Compromise of 1850. This compromise was a package of bills, passed in the United States in September 1850, regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War. It was drafted by Whig Senator Henry Clay and was negotiated with Stephen Douglas in order to avoid secession or civil war in 1850. The Compromise of 1850 caused sectionalism in the Union because it first established California as a free state and turned down the Southern proposal to split California at the 35° parallel; causing the South to be frustrated at the admittance of California. To balance out the annexation of California, the South was pleased to hear that the territories of New Mexico and Utah would have slavery decided with popular sovereignty, meaning that the people who settled there would decide whether or not the territory would be free or slave. Little did they know that they were being cheated, because the land in New Mexico and Utah was unsuited for agriculture and not fit for slave plantations. The biggest blow that caused sectionalism in the Compromise of 1850 was delivered when the Fugitive Slave Law became more strongly enforced. The Fugitive Slave Law basically declared that all runaway slaves must be returned to their masters and anyone who assisted the runaway slave would be arrested. It also gave commissioners ten dollars for every slave that was returned to its master and five dollars for every accused slave released, which led to greedy commissioners re-enslaving freed slaves. Lastly, the debate over slavery in the nation's capital was resolved during this compromise, it banned the trading of slaves in the capital but still allowed slavery to be practiced, which did not do much because people would just bring slaves in from neighboring states. The Compromise of 1850 was made in order to restrain the Union from splitting, but in it's attempt to please both the North and South, it caused them to develop more sectional hatred for one another. Another factor that caused sectionalism at the time came with the publishing of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. This book was an anti-slavery novel by the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and was the bestselling novel of the 19th century. She was an abolitionist, which means she was against slavery, and she wrote the book so the North would understand how badly the South were treating their slaves. This book stood out among all the other anti-slavery books because it was the first to develop an emotional impact on the reader and personified the slave, not as a piece of property, but as a living human being. Her words galvanized the North to take action instead of remain undecided on their view of slavery and showed the people in the North, and even other neighboring countries how devastating slavery was in the South. The South saw this book as a direct attack on their practice of slavery and developed a burning hatred for the words of Stowe because she was said to exaggerate greatly on the practice of slavery, making it seem more brutal and savage then it really was. This book caused the Union to become further sectionalized and caused more hate between the North and South; to the point where Lincoln even referred to Stowe as “the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.” Uncle Tom's Cabin did more than awaken the North; it influenced other nations to stay out of the Civil War because they were so moved by the book and were afraid it...
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