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CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR TIMELINE
1820- The Missouri Compromise- Saw an increased level of sectionalism despite momentarily easing
North/South tensions. Really awakened the issue of slavery.
1831- Nat Turner's rebellion- Very important as despite not being the only slave rebellion the fact
that it was so brutal scared Americans who, in turn, made punishments stronger (e.g. slaved banned
from learning to read and write) slavery was hardened.
1832- Nullification Ordinance- The first significant threat of secession, it seemed if the union could be
broken over the issue of tariffs, then the issue of slavery could have the same effect. Both sides
deemed it a victory in the end and the issue was shelved.
1832- Force Bill- This showed the willingness of the US federal government to use military force to
quell threats from straying states- an integral part of the civil war.
1836- Texan independence- Gave Americans greater land to fulfil their manifest destiny. The issue
was shelved by successive presidents as they did not want to reopen the issue of slavery, although
there was a clear North/South divide on the issue.
1845- Annexation of Texas- Further segregation of North and South was established as many
Northerners feared the expansion of slavery which would tip the uneasy balance in the slave states
favour whilst many Southerners believed this was their manifest destiny and moved to Texas.
Despite the annexation many Southerners were angry due to the lack of support from the North as
they saw it as part of their manifest destiny.
1846- Mexican War- Many Northerners saw the war as an excuse to expand slavery and opposed
any annexation of any of the Mexican territory. It was seen as a Southern war of aggression.
1846- Wilmot Proviso/Calhoun Doctrine- The Wilmot proviso completely segregated Congress as it
waged war against Polk's `pro-South' policies and the voting on it was completely sectional. Senator
Toombs of Georgia warned that if the Proviso became law, he would favour disunion rather than
`degradation'. The Proviso became a rallying cry for the anti-slavery movement and many Northern
states endorsed it. Calhoun once again threatened secession of Southern states if there continued to
be a Northern majority. His doctrine failed to win Congress' support.
1848- Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo- Polk was originally unhappy about the treaty as he believed
more territory could be gained. The South supported this as this would most likely lead to an increase
in slave states given the location. However given Northern opinion he accepted the treaty
reluctantly. Once again the issue of slavery had been shelved.
1848- Election- Zachary Taylor was elected and received an almost equal share of Northern and
Southern votes. The crucial issue throughout the election had been that of slavery so sectional issues
had influenced voting. However, the Free Soilers had managed to get 10% of the votes, showing an
indication of Northern opinion.
1850- Clay's Compromise- This compromise skirted rather than settled the controversy over slavery
in the territories, therefore providing no formula to guide the future
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Fugitive Slave Act- Appeared distasteful to abolitionists which led to protests and conflict. The
Fugitive Slave Act conflicted with states' rights. Several extreme cases were reported however it
was largely passed without much trouble but when there was resistance it was direct and there was
a higher use of guns
1852- Uncle Tom's Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe was an ardent abolitionist who gained astonishing
success in writing Uncle Tom's Cabin which galvanised the anti-slavery movement however it was
vilified by slavery's defenders.…read more