The Rest of the Story: Bleeding Kansas, Dred Scott and John Brown

This entry is part 17 of 18 in the series The Roots of the Civil War

Bleeding KansasThe Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 would precipitate actions that led to the Civil War. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court would finally decide finally decide Dred Scott v Sandford. Finally, John Brown would journey east from the battleground of Kansas and lead a small band of militant abolitionists to a date with destiny at Harpers Ferry in Virginia.

We have covered all of these events previously and rather than do so again, we’ll link to each of them.

First, let’s take a look at Missouri and Kansas before the Civil War. The border state of Missouri was an important state for both the North and the South before, during and after the Civil War. The territory and later the state of Kansas is intertwined with Missouri before and during the war. READ MORE

Bleeding Kansas gave abolitionist John Brown the opportunity to move from non-violent abolitionism to a more militant type of abolitionism. By 1855 several of John Brown’s sons were living with their families in the Kansas Territory. He received letters from them in which they detailed the situation in the territory. Kansas had become a battleground of pro-and ant-slavery forces. The aim of the pro-slavery forces was to bring the Kansas Territory into the Union as a slave state. READ MORE

In the middle of all of this turmoil the United States Supreme Court handed down its momentous decision in the case of Dred Scott v Sandford on March 6, 1857. The Dred Scott Decision, also known as Dred Scott v Sanford, was one of the most impactful decisions in the history of the United States. It ignited passions across the North and was fiercely debated on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. Stopping the expansion of Dred Scottslavery became one of the planks of Republican Party’s 1860 campaign. READ MORE

Events continued to spiral out of control. John Brown’s Raid on the United States Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry took place on October 16-18, 1859. It was to have a far-ranging impact on American history out of all proportion to its size. It was in reality the spark that lit the flame of the American Civil War. READ MORE

After Brown’s execution the nation moved into the fateful year of 1860. 1860 was the year that Americans North and South decided on the direction of this country. As the year went on it became apparent to Americans that the problems that besieged the country could not be resolved short of the division of the country or all-out war. READ MORE

1860 was the year of decision for the United States. Events that took place during this pivotal year were to shape American history for the next four years and all of the years until now. The year of 1860 was to see increasing tensions between the North and South. It was to see the most unusual election in American history with four candidates vying for the position of Chief Executive. Finally, it was to see the beginning of secession and the fragmentation of the Union. READ MORE

John Brown's HangingAfter the election of Abraham Lincoln the country was plunged into a deep crisis. On December 20, 1860 the South Carolina Convention voted 169-0 to secede from the Union. The causes that the South Carolina convention were a list of grievances that they cited went back to events that took place in 1765. READ MORE

One hundred and fifty two years after the start of the American Civil War many Americans are uneducated about the facts surrounding the war. In most people’s minds the war between the North and South was just that a war between two monolithic opponents. Today, many Americans are unaware of the anti-war sentiments that were circulating throughout both regions of the United States. They also do not understand that the Union government was hoping for conciliation before blood was spilled. READ MORE

Was the American Civil War inevitable? Could the sides have compromised about the differences and avoided the massive bloodletting that ensued after the attack on Fort Sumter? This will be the subject of our next post.

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