Social Discord within the United States

Topics: American Civil War, Slavery in the United States, Compromise of 1850 Pages: 3 (999 words) Published: April 6, 2013
Social Discord within the United States
The Constitution of The United States of America was intended to be a source of national unity; however it never fully clarified the issue of slavery. By the 1850’s there were many different interpretations of the Constitution that led to much social discord within the country. Much of this social discord came from different opinions of whether the Constitution promoted unity or ultimately would lead to secession. Constitutional add-ons such as the 3/5 Compromise and popular sovereignty were used to promote unity, while events such as the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas- Nebraska Act and poor leadership from Presidents Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan led to secession in 1861.

The Constitution did several things to promote unity within the country. First, the 3/5 Compromise was introduced in 1787 when the Constitution was up for ratification. The 3/5 Compromise stated that three- fifths of the slave population in each state to be counted for congressional representation. This was important to the southern states because a great majority of their population was slaves. The compromise gave the South more votes in the House of Representatives and in the Electoral College. The compromise was added because southern states such as South Carolina and Georgia threatened secession. Second, popular sovereignty became a popular way of solving the slavery issue in new states and territories. Popular sovereignty meant that the citizens in each state or territory would vote to determine if that state or territory would allow slavery or not. This idea was made famous by Stephen A Douglas, Senator from IL, who believed that democracy would solve the slavery issue. Popular sovereignty was used in the Compromise of 1850 by allowing the citizens in the newly formed territories of Utah and New Mexico to decide if slavery would be allowed or not (Doc A).
The Constitution also did many things that promoted...
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