1793: Invention of the cotton gin.
1808: US abolished the slave trade. The value of slaves increased to $2,000 by 1850. Despite only 25% of South owning slaves the existence of slaves reminded poor whites that there was a class below them in society. Slavery permeated all aspects of Southern life, therefore, an attack on slavery was seen as an attack on the South.
1819: 11 ’free’ states, 11 ’slave’ states. The senate was even but the North had begun to dominate the House with its rapidly growing population.
1820: Missouri Compromise. Missouri, a slave state, would join the union with Maine, a free state, to maintain the balance. No slavery was to be subsequently allowed North of the 36’30’ parallel. The issue was not resolved, merely delegated to a later date.
1833: Britain abolished slavery throughout its empire.
Late 1840s: Growing tension due to: California and New Mexico in 1848, The Wilmot Proviso 1846, which excluded slavery from any territory acquired from Mexico, was passed in the House but defeated in the Senate. The Calhoun Doctrine 1847, argued that territories were the common property of all states, that any US citizen was free to settle in the US with its property (slaves), that the states were sovereign, they had the right to secede if the North ignored Southern interests and threatened slavery, then the South was justified in leaving the Union.
1850: Compromise. California to join the Union as a free state, the end of slavery in Washington D.C, in Utah and New Mexico ’popular sovereignty’ would decide whether the state would be slave or free, and a more stringent Fugitive slave law. David Potter argues it was "an armistice rather than a compromise"
1852: Publication of ’Uncle Tom’s Cabin’
1854: Kansas-Nebraska Act. Addition of two new states, their status to be decided by poplar sovereignty, undermined the Missouri Compromise. This re-ignited sectional tensions and fed Northern fears of a ’slave power’ base.
1856: Brooks, a Southern representative, beat unconscious the abolitionist senator Sumner, on the senate floor. The start of the violence.
’Bleeding Kansas’ a minor civil war over whether to be free or slave, eventually in 1858 after a referendum the pro-slavery group was defeated.
1857: Dred Scott Case. Rise of the Republican Party. The Republican Party became a fully sectional party and led to a further identification with North or South rather than with the Union, Abraham Lincoln was influential in the Douglas-Lincoln debates in splitting the democratic party.
1860: Lincoln wins the presidential election,
1861: The confederacy was formed.
April: Fort Sumter,
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