As time passed the rapidly changing society in the nineteenth century, in 1820 the north and south began to have a serious of conflicting problems that were proved unfixable by compromise. During this time, the north underwent major social, economic, and industrial changes known as the Antebellum Period. While the south generally clung to king cotton and slavery and remained essentially the same. This arose a manifold of controversies with how issues such as tariffs, slavery, and how land should be handled.
Both the Union and the Confederacy tried to create compromises to resolve these problems, yet both sides were never completely satisfied no matter how hard they tried. This made it very close to impossible for them to completely put their differences at rest. As the north began to grow more industrially, the south stuck to their farms that were mainly maintained by slaves. This brought up a difficult dispute with the matter of how tariffs should be handled.
Since the north became industrial, it was more efficient of them to impose tariffs on the country to better their economy. Instead of the people of the north getting better deals purchasing goods from Europe, the higher tariffs made it harder and cost them more to do business with Europe, as result they purchased goods from local businesses. This proved to be a major problem for the south because the high tariffs levels threatened their cotton exports and goods imports from their main buyers and sellers, the Europeans.
This angered the south because the tariffs favored the North by protecting them from foreign competition such as with the Tariff of Abominations in 1828. The tariff forced the South to buy manufactured goods from U. S. manufacturers, mainly in the North, at a higher price, while southern states also faced a reduced income from sales of raw materials. But then the tariff of 1832 was addressed by Andrew Jackson to further lower the tariffs, but the south was still. The coexistence of a slave-owning South with an increasingly anti-slavery North made conflict likely.
Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but he had, in his 1858 House Divided Speech, expressed a desire to “arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction”. Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories. All of the organized territories were likely to become free-soil states, which increased the Southern movement toward secession.
Both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand it would wither and die. Southerners feared of losing control of the federal government to antislavery forces, and Northern fears that the slave power already controlled the government. This brought the crisis to a head in the late 1850s. Sectional disagreements over the morality of slavery, the scope of democracy and the economic merits of free labor vs. slave plantations caused the Whig and Know-Nothing parties to collapse, and new ones to arise (the Free Soil Party in 1848, the Republicans in 1854, the Constitutional Union in 1860).
In 1860, the last remaining national political party, the Democratic Party, split along sectional lines. Both North and South were influenced by the ideas of Thomas Jefferson. Southerners emphasized, in connection with slavery, the states’ rights ideas mentioned in Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions. Northerners ranging from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to the moderate Republican leader Abraham Lincoln emphasized Jefferson’s declaration that all men are created equal. Lincoln mentioned this proposition in his Gettysburg Address.
Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said that slavery was the chief cause of secession in his Cornerstone Speech shortly before the war. After Confederate defeat, Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the Lost Cause. There was a surprising contrast between Stephens’ post-war states’ rights assertion that slavery did not cause secession and his pre-war Cornerstone Speech. Confederate President Jefferson Davis also switched from saying the war was caused by slavery to saying that states’ rights was the cause.
While Southerners often used states’ rights arguments to defend slavery, sometimes roles were reversed, as when Southerners demanded national laws to defend their interests with the Gag Rule and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. On these issues, it was Northerners who wanted to defend the rights of their states. Almost all of the inter-regional crises involved slavery, starting with debates on the three-fifths clause and a twenty year extension of the African slave trade in the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
There was controversy over adding the slave state of Missouri to the Union that led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Nullification Crisis over the Tariff of 1828 (although the tariff was low after 1846, and even the tariff issue was related to slavery), the gag rule that prevented discussion in Congress of petitions for ending slavery from 1835–1844, the acquisition of Texas as a slave state in 1845 and Manifest Destiny as an argument for gaining new territories where slavery would become an issue after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), which resulted in the Compromise of 1850.
The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt by Northern politicians to exclude slavery from the territories conquered from Mexico. The extremely popular antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe greatly increased Northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The 1854 Ostend Manifesto was an unsuccessful Southern attempt to annex Cuba as a slave state.
The Second Party System broke down after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which replaced the Missouri Compromise ban on slavery with popular sovereignty, allowing the people of a territory to vote for or against slavery. The Bleeding Kansas controversy over the status of slavery in the Kansas Territory included massive vote fraud perpetrated by Missouri pro-slavery Border Ruffians. Vote fraud led pro-South Presidents Pierce and Buchanan to make attempts, including support for the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution, to admit Kansas as a slave state.
Violence over the status of slavery in Kansas erupted with the Wakarusa War, the Sacking of Lawrence, the caning of Republican Charles Sumner by the Southerner Preston Brooks, the Pottawatomie Massacre and more. The 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision allowed slavery in the territories even where the majority opposed slavery, including Kansas. The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 included Northern Democratic leader Stephen Douglas’ Freeport Doctrine.
Between the years of 1820-1850, many political issues confronted the United States such as the question of slavery. The United States government and the American public sought to find resolutions to these political problems by using the means of compromise, doing everything possible to avoid a civil war. Resolving disputes threw compromise no longer seemed possible. Theses disputes took place in the United States during 1820-1860. Some political disputes such as slavery, political leaders and succession of states made it hard to compromise.