If the Constitution protected the institution of slavery in the United States of America, why did the southern states secede from the Union?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Although the institution of slavery was implicitly protected in the United States Constitution, it did not provide guidance as to how the issue would be decided in new territories and states. As the United States expanded west after the Louisiana Purchase, the issue of whether new territories or states would...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Although the institution of slavery was implicitly protected in the United States Constitution, it did not provide guidance as to how the issue would be decided in new territories and states. As the United States expanded west after the Louisiana Purchase, the issue of whether new territories or states would be allowed to have slaves was hotly debated.

The states from the north and south seemed to be on different paths after the War of 1812. The northern states were on a path of industrialism and urban development. the southern states remained agrarian and based on agriculture. Despite these differences, the two factions attempted to make compromises in an effort to maintain unity. These compromises almost always dealt with whether or not slavery would be instituted in new states or territories. The need for compromise demonstrated the North's desire to abolish slavery in the mid-1850's. This would have caused great economic damage to the southern states. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created two new territories and allowed the people to decide whether slavery would be allowed. The result of the compromise was violence between abolitionist and pro-slavery groups. So while the Constitution indirectly protected the institution of slavery, it did not prevent the anti-slavery sentiment that existed in the North.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team