Explain the significance of the issue of allowing slavery in the territories as being the sole issue for both Northerners and Southerners.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The ultimate significance of slavery being the defining issue for both North and South was to demonstrate in the new nation how democratic negotiation can do very little to offset intense convictions.  The significance of slavery being the defining issue for both sides was to demonstrate how there can be little negotiation on issues where passionate convictions reign supreme.  The new nation had defined itself on being able to negotiate away any problem.  Land acquisition, immigration influxes, issues between state and federal governments were all able to minimized through negotiation.  In this, there was a certain comfort in being able to bargain away any problem that arose.  The issue of slavery became significant because it shows how there really was to be no negotiation for the issue that defined Southern life as Northern opposition to it began to define its own being.  The reality that emerged was that negotiation in this realm was impossible, and while there were attempts such as the Missouri Compromise and the Compromises of 1850 and with popular sovereignty, the fundamental truth that both sides could not escape was that there are conviction- based issues that cannot be negotiated without some level of conflict being the result.  This becomes the significance of the issue of slavery for both North and South in leading to the Civil War.

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