Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Adressing the Elephant in the Nation

My timeline showing events in 1850s

Short descriptions of each event 
We have been learning about the "elephant in the room" during the 1800s. It was the issue of slavery in the U.S. It was a very prominent focus of dispute and everyody knew that, yet it wasn't directly talked about as the cause for the problems. There were sharp divisions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery territories and there was long debate between the two. Both groups had the goal to eventually take over the entire U.S. and would fight to spread the beliefs they thought to be right. There were many events that happened within the 1850s that showed this fight. The 1850s had a mixture of events in favor of slavery and against slavery. To show each event, we created timelines. They have small descriptions for each event and mine had pictures for about half of them. The way we arranged it was if the event was good for anti slavery people, it was put above the line and if it was the opposite it was put below.
Map showing Missouri Compromise territories 
All of the events on the timeline can show how slavery was the elephant in the room during this time. One of the five parts of the compromise of 1850 was the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act which said that everybody was required to assist in the search and capture of fugitive slaves to bring them back to their masters. This was even required in the free states and said that the slaves were still technically slaves there. This meant that there basically wasn't any free states since they would still be captured and brought back no matter where they were. This act was subtly trying to get rid of any free states and make the northern states pro slavery. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise established that the
territories north of the 36 degrees 30 minutes latitiude line would be free states in the future. However, the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 made the compromise irrelevant because it opened up the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to anybody who could settle it. The compromise had said they would be free states in the future but this allowed for anybody to settle in some of the territory and determine the stance on slavery based on popular soveriegnety. So it was open for pro slavery people to settle and make it a slave state. This caused a big rush to the territories so people could claim it for their own views. In the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, an enslaves man named Dred Scott filed a suit against his owner to free him and his wife saying that they once lived in anti slavery states so they shouldn't be considered slaves anymore. Dred lost the case and as a way of dismissing it the Supreme Court ruled that he "could not be a citizen of the state of Missouri, within the meaning of the Constitution of the United States, and, consequently, was not entitled to sue in its courts." Also, as a result they ruled that slaves could not get freedom by living in a free state. This basically got rid of the idea of free states. The supreme court is trying to back up their rulings with the constitution and not directly adressing the pro slavery views that caused their decision to be made.

  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2951.html
  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933t.html

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