AP American History
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free." 1858 was the year when soon to be President Abraham Lincoln gave this response to the question of how slavery may impact the union.
The northern abolitionist were concerned that their politicians had abandond the platform of the Wilmont Proviso. But after the Compromise of 1850, it became clear that southern discontent was starting to mount. John C. Calhoun, senator from South Carolina, questioned why the South was making sacrifices to northern interests. He felt that they were the section protected by the constitution so the north should be the section that was adhering to their needs. Henry Clay proclaimed the passage of his compromise a, "triumph for the union..." Although the Compromise of 1850 created a relative calm throughout the country, that calm would only last for a couple of years. Stephen Douglas, senator from Illinois, proposed the bill that would divide the huge unsettled Nebraska territory into two smaller territories. The two territories, Kansas and Nebraska would decide the slavery question using a method that Douglas called popular sovereignty. On May 30, 1854 President Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act into law.
Due to the fact that Kansas was left to popular sovereignty, both people from the North and the South began to flock to Kansas in hopes of seeing slavery either allowed or banned. In the early stages of migration to Kansas, the people from Missouri, a slave state, poured into Kansas. People from the North knew that if they did not do something, Kansas would be lost to slavery. So all across the northern states, groups started to organize sending people to Kansas hoping to keep slavery out. The pro-slavery sentiment burned just as hotly as the anti-slavery sentiment did. March 30, 1855 was the date on which Kansas would vote to allow slavery. The election turned into a fiasco. Pro-slavery factions won due to their tremendous amounts of illegal support from Missouri. As the pro-slavery folks took over and began instituting pro-slavery laws, the Free-Soilers cried foul play claiming there had been over 5,000 false votes counted. Kansas had taken center spotlight across the country. Everyone had an opinion and that opinion was dictated by what side of the Mason-Dixon Line you lived on. The Free-Soilers ignored the existing government and set up their own. At this point there were two governments in Kansas, and by the end of 1855, Kansas was fighting a civil war. Folks from all across the country locked to Kansas in hopes of turning the state their way. John Brown, a radical abolitionist who was not afraid to use violent tactics, arrived in Kansas on a mission."No political action will abolish the system of slavery. It will go out in blood. These men who held slaves have forfeited the right to live."This was Brown's sentiment as he entered Kansas and it would prove to be correct not only in Kansas, but also seven years later in the Civil War. By the start of 1856, Kansas was at war. There were many violent battles and many casualties.
While the war in Kansas was going on, a conflict in Congress also waged on. Sumner attacked Senator Butler calling him a harlot with no ability to speak the truth. Because of this Sumner was beaten with a cane to an unconscious state by Senator Brooks.. Sumner was so badly hurt that he did not return to Congress for three and a half years. The reaction that both sides took was symbolic of where the country stood. Brooks was praised and honored in the South as a hero, and was sent many new canes by admirers The North was outraged. Massachusetts refused to elect another senator and Sumner's seat was left vacant as a symbol of northern discontent. Shortly afterwards Abraham Lincoln was elected and the war for independence began.
What was the cause of the Civil War? War was inevitable the day a slave was thought on to American soil. Both North and South believed that God was on their side, and because of that, they would hold their position until death. Without slavery, there would have been no Compromise of 1850, no war in Kansas, and finally no Civil War.