Slavery, Sectionalsim, and Civil War (Updated) -...

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Originally written by Chris Miller Updated by Tony Saavedra TRANSFORMATION BY FIRE: THE CIVIL WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION 1848(9)-1876(7) SUBUNIT 4.1: SECTIONALISM AND THE ROAD TO WAR 1848(9)-1860(1) SLAVERY, SECTIONALISM, AND CIVIL WAR: 1776-1848-1860 PART ONE: THE ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT: A HISTORICAL FLASHBACK 1776-1848 PART TWO: RENEWING THE SECTIONAL STRUGGLE 1848-1856 PART THREE: DRIFTING TOWARD DISUNION 1856-1860 PART ONE: THE ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT: A HISTORICAL FLASHBACK 1776-1845 1. Between 1776-1845 the U.S. faced numerous economic, ideological, and political conflicts. In each case the conflict seemed to center around a problem common to all democratic governments, the issue of majority rule (authority) and minority rights (liberty). In each crisis the North or South saw themselves as the minority being oppressed by the power of the majority. This became the central question of republican government: how to support majority rule while protecting the rights of minorities. In each case the problem was overcome because the conflict was isolated and eventually addressed intersectionally through the political party system. The resolution of the “single issue conflict” always involved an intersectional coalition of diverse interests so that it was not allowed to become purely sectional in nature. However, a strictly sectional issue, slavery, always lurked just below the surface whenever conflict arose, since it was slavery that ultimately distinguished the North from the South. But just as centrifugal forces (sectional minority demands pulling the nation apart) were operating, there were also centripetal factors (nationalistic majority feelings pushing the nation together) mediating the dispute. Whenever sectional fires, like slavery, rose on the horizon, the mythical unifying power of the CONSTITUTION, the pragmatic power of the POLITICAL PARTY SYSTEM and the rhetorical power of NATIONALISM extinguished the flames. However, if one traces the Northern and Southern conflict over slavery from 1776 to 1860 one will see many different proposals made and complex legislation adopted, but in each case it proved inadequate. Thus, each generation had to readdress the problem until finally Civil War became the ultimate resolution. A. THE CONSTITUIONAL CONTEXT: Slavery seems to have begun informally and then evolved into a legal institution within a “Constitutional context.” How did this happen?
Originally written by Chris Miller Updated by Tony Saavedra 2 (1) The problem began when the Founding Fathers declared, “all men are created equal” and then proceeded to maintain and legally protect an extensive slave system within the United States. (2) To do that required that slavery not just be informally accepted in the colonies as it had been since its inception in 1619 (color line originated) and then its birth in 1676 (Bacon’s Rebellion), but formally and legally sanctioned by the U.S.

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