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Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 13

Updated on October 25, 2012
Eric Foner: Book Outline Notes for Give Me Liberty! An American History Second Edition
Eric Foner: Book Outline Notes for Give Me Liberty! An American History Second Edition


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Chapter 13: A House Divided (1840-1861)

Focus Questions

  1. What were the major thrusts of territorial expansion west in the 1840s?
  2. Why did the expansion of slavery become such a divisive political issue in the 1840s?
  3. How did the Republican Party emerge from the social and political divisions of this period?
  4. How did Lincoln emerge as president from the divided politics of the 1850s?
  5. What were the final steps on the road to secession?

Chapter 13: A House Divided (1840-1861)

  1. Introduction
  1. Thomas Crawford (prominent AM sculptor) designed the Capitals Dome w/ a female figure wearing a liberty cap
  2. This was an issue for many ppl: it shoed how nearly every public question was being swept up into the gathering storm over slavery

Fruits of Manifest Destiny

  1. Continental Expansion
  1. Ppl started moving west

The Mormons’ Trek

  1. Went to modern-day Utah: founded by Joseph Smith (polygamy)
  2. National boundaries meant little to those who moved West

The Mexican Frontier: New Mexico and California

  1. Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, issue of slavery arose.
  2. Mexico could now trade w/ the US!
  3. California
  1. Californios - Mexican cattle ranchers
  2. By 1840, it was already linked commercially w/ the US

The Texas Revolt

  1. Mexican gov, in order to develop the region, accepted an offer by Moses Austin to colonize it w/ Americans
  2. Am’s started flowing into the area: to control it, the Mex gov annulled existing land contracts and barred future emigration to the area
  3. Santa Anna and the Alamo sparked a chaotic revolt in texas “Remember the Alamo!”

The Election of 1844

  1. John Tyler = Pres...tried to annex Texas, but it would have upset Mexico
  2. James Polk annexed it...he was the first “dark-horse” candidate-that is, one who’s nomination was completely unexpected
  3. “54-40 or fight” was a popular campaign slogan for Van Burren

The Road to War

  1. James K Polk had a clearly defined set of goals: Reduce the tariff, reestablish the independent treasury system, and settle the dispute over ownership of Oregon
  2. Acquiring California was difficult, so he planned for military action

The War and it’s critics

  1. The Mexican War was the first AM conflict to be fought primarily on foreign soil in which AM troops occupied a foreign capital
  2. Abraham Lincoln was a critic of the war, said to specify the precise “spot” where blood had first been shed...he lost his seat the next yr (Illinois ppl didn’t like it)

Combat in Mexico

  1. Volunteers did most of the fighting
  2. The Navy captured Monterey and San Francisco Harbors, troops occupied Santa Fe
  3. The bulk of the fighting was in central Mexico. Ended w/ Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which confirmed the annexation of Texas and ceded california and present-day New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah to the US

Race and Manifest Destiny

  1. Many moved west. Race was an amorphous notion involving color, culture, national origin

Redefining Race

  1. Mexico had abolished slavery, but the new Texas had slavery...o no!

Gold-Rush California

  1. Non-Indian population rose rapidly (diverse population) discovered in 1848. Most ppl were young men

California and the boundaries of Freedom

  1. “Committees of vigilance” executed criminals in Cali
  2. Although it seemed like a place of infinite opportunity, the freedom was pretty limited
  3. They overcrowded the Indians...Ind population went from 150k to 30k

A Dose of Arsenic

  1. Issue after acquiring Louisiana territory was whether to allow slavery or not
  1. Emerson’s prediction of Mexico being like arsenic to the Union was true

The Wilmot Proviso

  1. David Wilmot proposed a resolution prohibiting slavery from all territory acquired from Mexico
  2. Opponents of slavery formed the Free Soil Party and nominated Van Burren as president
  3. 1848 victory went to Zachary Taylor (for president)

The Free Soil Appeal

  1. Although Congress couldn’t prohibit slavery within a state, it could keep it from territories
  1. They did this in the NW Ordinance of 1787 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820-21

“Freedom of the Soil”: To northerners, the ability to move west had promise for economic betterment To southerners, the idea of barring slavery from territory acquired from Mexico seemed a violation of their equal rights as members of the Union Crisis and Compromise (of 1850)

  1. Compromise of 1850: California would enter as a free slave, and the slave trade but not slavery itself, would be abolished in the capital

The Great Debate

  1. Over abandoning the Wilmot Proviso and accepting a new Fugitive Slave Law

The Fugitive Slave Issue

  1. Would determine fugitives fate w/out a jury trial

Douglass and Popular Sovereignty

  1. Compromise of 1850 seemed to have restored peace and party unity (temporarily)
  2. Douglass introduced a bill to provide territorial gov’s for Kansas and Nebraska
  3. He hoped to have a transcontinental railroad built in the two above areas

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

  1. Group of antislavery congressmen issued the appeal of the Independent Democrats, written by two abolitionists from Ohio: it kicked the crap out of Douglass’s bill basically
  2. Douglass’s bill still became law though (Kansas-Neb Act)
  1. Shattered the Democratic Unity

Over the next two yrs, the Whig party collapsed b/c it was unable to come up with a unified response to the political crisis The Rise of the Republican Party

  1. The northern Economy
  1. The rise of the Rep party also reflected the underlying economic and social changed (railroad network being completed)
  2. Tons of goods were going through the railroads. North had become a complex, integrated economy, w/ eastern industrialists marketing manufactured goods to the commercial farmers of the west
  3. Two areas of industrial production had arisen: One was btwn Boston and Philly and Baltimore, the second was centered on or near the Great Lakes

The Rise and Fall of the Know-Nothings

  1. (Nativism = hostility to immigrants, especially Catholics) They were really called the American Party, but whenever someone asked about them, they just said, “I know nothing”
  2. In the North, the Know-Nothings’ appeal combined Catholic and antislavery sentiment, with the opposition to the sale of liquor often added as well

The Free Labor Ideology

  1. The Republican PArty (coalition of antislavery Democrats, northern Whigs, Free Soilers, and Know-Nothings (al opposed to slavery) - would become the major alternative to the Democratic party in the North
  2. Defining quality of northern society was the opportunity fror each laborer to move up to the status of landowning, therefore freedom
  3. Republicans said that not abolition, but the federal gov’s support of slavery should be ended
  4. Republicans were not abolitionists - they focused on preventing the spread of slavery, not attacking where it existed

Bleeding Kansas and the Election of 1856

  1. Sporadic Civil War broke out where 200 ppl died (b/c hundreds of Missouri City ppl crossed the border to cast fraud ballots)
  2. “Bleeding Kansas” discredited Douglass’ idea of leaving decision of slavery up to local ppl, thus helping the Republicans
  3. Election of 1856, Republican Party chose John C Fremont: strongly opposed expansion of slavery
  4. Democrats = James Buchanan (popular sovereignty) won the presidency
  5. One major party was destroyed, another weakened, and another arisen (which devoted entirely to the interests of the North)

The Emergence of Lincoln

  1. The Dred Scott Decision
  1. Scott went to Illinois w/ his owner, stepped on Illinois soil, and then when he headed back to the South, he sued for his freedom b/c so.
  1. This case happened 2 days after Buchanan’s inauguration

Three questions were addressed:

  1. Could a black person be a citizen and therefore sue in federal court?
  2. Did residence in a free state make Scott free?
  3. Did Congress possess the power to prohibit slavery in a territory?

Case could have ended with the conclusion that blacks had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, but Taney went on.

  1. Taney also said that Dred was still a slave: it ultimately declared unconstitutional the Republican platform of restricting slavery’s expansion, as well as undermining Douglass’s doctrine of popular sovereignty

The decisions aftermath

  1. Rather than abandoning their opposition to the expansion of slavery, Republicans now viewed the Court as as controlled by the Slave Power
  2. Buchanan announced that all territories, according to the Const, allowed slavery

Lincoln and Slavery

  1. Abraham was a surpising person from Illinois: ran for public office at 21, and re-entered in 1854 as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
  1. He actually did hate slavery, but was hesitant about stopping it’s expansion

His America was the world of the small producer and the freelabor ideology The Lincoln-Douglass Campaign

  1. Fighting against Douglass was Lincoln’s reputation... Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself...cannot stand”
  2. Lincoln’s main things was that there was no middle ground for slavery, we either had to accept it or oppose it
  3. Debates held in Illinois: Freedom to Lincoln meant opposition to slavery
  4. Douglass said that politicians had no right to force moral standards on society as a whole. He spent much of his time trying to represent Lincoln as a radical

John Brown at Harpers Ferry

  1. John Brown, an antislavery, religious man of Virginia led 20 men to seize Harpers Ferry. They were unsuccessful, and Brown became a martry for the North (a “crucified hero”)

The Rise of Southern Nationalism

  1. It became more and more expensive to own slaves and move upward economically
  2. Ostend Manifesto - called for the US to purchase of seize Cuba, where Slavery was still legal, from Spain
  3. William Walker led expeditions to capture places in Central America: he was successful, but eventually had to retreat
  4. Southern nationalists = known as “fire-eaters”

The Democratic Split

  1. B/c of Douglass’ fight against Kansas’ Lecompton Constitution and his refusal to support congressional laws imposing slavery on all the territories, Douglass became unacceptable to political leaders in the Deep South (didn’t win pres nomination at first, but then did)
  2. In 1860, neither northern or southern Democrats were interested in conciliation
  3. Southern Dem’s didn’t trust Northern counterparts

The Nomination of Lincoln

  1. Lincoln’s devotion to the Union appealed to moderate Republicans
  2. Coming from Illinois, he was better positioned to carry the pivotal “doubtful states” essential for Republican victory

The Election of 1860

  1. Two pres campaigns took place in 1860: Lincoln and Douglass in the North, and a mix of 3 ppl in the South
  2. Lincoln carried all of the North except New Jersey, Breckenridge carried most of the slave states, and Bell carried about 40% of the slave states as a whole
  3. Without a single vote from the South, Lincoln won the election...nice!

The Impending Crisis

  1. The Secession Movement
  1. The election of 1860 marked a fundamental shift of power and the beginning of a long period of Republican rule
  2. First to secede was South Carolina (highest % of slave population, and radical)
  3. They viewed Lincoln as a man “whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”

Th Secession Crisis

  1. Before Lincoln assumed office, the Confederate States of America was formed, adopted a constitution, and chose Jefferson Davis as their president
  2. Crittenden of Kentucky = offered the most widely supported compromise plan: would have guaranteed the future of slavery in states where it existed and extended the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific Ocean
  3. The “great truth” of the Confederacy, was essentially inequality of blacks

And the War Came

  1. Lincoln didn’t believe that the war was inevitable: he believed that over time, the secession would collapse from within
  2. During his inaugural address, he rejected the right of secession but denied any intention of interfering with slavery in the states
  3. He avoided any action that might drive more states from the Union, and wanted to make sure that if anything did occur, it was the South to fire the first shot
  4. Confederates attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina b/c it scared them, then Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to silence them. The war had begun

Review Questions

  1. Describe how the values and platform of the Free Soil Part differed from that of the abolitionists.
  2. Analyze the significance of the Dred Scott decision in the developing sectional split
  3. What were the main factors driving continental expansion in the antebellum era?
  4. Explain how the spirit of “manifest destiny” gave a new stridency to ideas of racial superiority.
  5. How did Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas convey their ideas of freedom during their famous debates?


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      5 years ago

      would there happen to be a chapter 15 note page?


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