Secession and Civil War Questions and Answers

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During the 1850s, the political fabric of the United States began to unravel. What were the key events and individuals during this period that helped to propel the nation towards Civil War?

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The most significant factor in propelling the nation toward disunion was the Mexican War. Concluded in 1848, it, as Ralph Waldo Emerson predicted, "poisoned" the politics of the United States by pushing the expansion of slavery to the forefront. The Compromise of 1850 was one significant event that helped to propel the nation toward civil war, primarily because a more robust Fugitive Slave Act, included as a concession to southern slaveholders, outraged Northerners, intensifying the justifiable belief that a "slave power" controlled national politics.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was another event that pushed the nation toward disunion. Its sponsor, Stephen Douglas, was a key figure in this process by urging the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the use of popular sovereignty as a means to resolve the issue of slavery in the territories encompassed by the Louisiana Purchase. This led to the emergence of the Republican Party, which was devoted to halting the spread of slavery to...

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