The American Civil War 2 Essay Research

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The American Civil War 2 Essay, Research Paper The American Civil War I. Background The groundwork for the Civil War was laid many years before its actual start on April 12, 1861 with the firing on Fort Sumpter. One of the main reasons for the war; slavery, had been going on since before the formation of the United States. However it wasn t until the early 1850s that anyone had a real problem with slavery. From then on, it was only a matter of time before the greatest war ever fought on American soil would begin. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was put into effect. This law stated that anyone helping a runaway slave could face up to six months in jail, and a fine of 1,000 dollars. This new law meant that many slaves who had already escaped to the North and were living in

freedom could now be captured and returned to their owners where they were almost guaranteed death or an unbearable life. Because of this, abolitionists mainly in the North and some in the South began to speak out even more than before on the unfairness of slavery. Until 1852, most of those involved in the antislavery movement, were free black men and women who had lived as slaves and been granted their freedom by their former owners. This began to change however with the release of the novel Uncle Tom s Cabin in 1852. This book, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, showed many middle and upper class Northerners what life as a slave was like. It showed that even if you were a good person and a hard worker, you still could be beaten or killed by your owner for the simple fact that

you belonged to him. In the novel, Stowe blamed the system not the slave owners for the cruelty. The novel finally showed large majorities of people what the slave system was like, and they didn t like it. In 1854, the northern concern about slavery dramatically increased with the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which stated that in order to build a new railroad, Kansas and Nebraska would be made territories. What made northerners angry however, was the fact that each of the new territories could decide on their own whether or not they wanted to own slaves, regardless of their geographical placement. The result of this was disastrous. When the time came for votes to be cast on whether or not the new territories were to be free or slave-owning, thousands of Missourians

crossed into the new territories to vote in favor of slavery. Even though their votes were illegal, they were still counted and both territories became slave holding. Because of this, natives of Kansas who opposed slavery set up their own government in the town of Topeka. With two governments now trying to control the same territory, fighting was bound to break out. The bloodshed finally came in the year 1856 when an army of 3,000 Missourians marched into the town of Lawrence and in broad daylight burned a hotel and destroyed a newspaper company. After hearing of this, a man named John Brown, determined to avenge the destruction of Lawrence, led a band of seven men to a settlement south of Lawrence where they believed some of the men responsible for the trouble were staying. In

cold blood they murdered five people and then returned to their homes. After what came to be known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, there was hardly any more blood shed in Kansas. Instead the politicians took over the battle and exaggerated the occurrences in order to win support. Soon many Northeastern residents were reading overblown news reports of Bloody Kansas. Kansas was eventually made a free territory and for the next few years most of the slavery issue was handled politically. In 1859 however, John Brown returned on the scene with eighteen men, and together they temporarily captured a United States armory on the banks of the Potomac at Harper s Ferry. They were soon captured, and John Brown was tried for murder, conspiracy, and treason. He was found guilty and was hung for