Slavery and States' Rights

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The debate over slavery and states' rights had become so intense by 1860 that the South was ready to break away altogether, and they did not want to cooperate with the North. They felt they were being exploited and taken advantage of by the North. The economy, culture, and various ways of life had developed differently throughout the U.S., creating a feeling of disunity. Resolving disputes threw compromise no longer seemed possible. They had no reason to compromise and work out their disputes because the South wanted to form a confederacy of their own. This all began to deteriorate because of the dramatic economic, social, and political issues, such as the Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act, political leaders, succession attempts, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act gradually became unfeasible nearing 1860.

Southern dependence on a staple crop (mostly cotton), and northern industrialist society caused a contrast between the views of the north and south. While the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed pro- and anti-slavery factions to coexist for a time, growing economic differences between the northern and southern states made it much harder for compromises to exist. In 1850 a very thin majority was willing to accept a North where slavery was barred and a South that had the institution. That was the status quo. Unfortunately, rumors of succession floated the air and concerned many northerners. In a speech to the Senate, Senator Daniel Webster stated, “I hold the idea of a separation of these states-those that are free to form one government and those that are slaveholding to form another- as a moral impossibility.” (Doc D) This is mentioned to show that the states could no separate by any line because they wouldn’t be able to satisfy everyone. The Union must stay together in order to prosper. In 1854, trying to keep the South from succeeding, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas very foolishly got a law passed that changed the status of slavery. Instead of...
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