The Breakdown of Slavery
The sharp contrast between the proslavery states in the South and free states in the North over slavery and free labor fuelled the abolition of enslavement. For example, staunch proslavery propagandists such as George Fitzhugh staged strong defense for slavery by arguing that masters took good care of their slaves even when they were sick and unable to work (Political Crises 1840s & 1850s Presentation, slide 4). Southern states depended heavily on slaves for their plantation and overall economic prosperity, and they justified the practice of enslaving using wealth invested in caring for their laborers. In contrast, the Northern states advocated for free labor, which they believed had more economic efficiencies than forced labor. Such uncompromising disagreements precipitated the collapse of the social aspect of slavery in the decades before the Civil War.
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The Breakdown of the Second Two-Party System
Sharp divisions regarding the issues of slavery and freedom led to the collapse of these dominant political coalitions (Kins, 2019). The expansion of slavery became a prominent national concern, with many states in the North considering the most pressing issue than any other policy. For instance, Congressman David Wilmot proposed the abolition of enslavement from all territories annexed from Mexico (Political Crises 1840s & 1850s Presentation, slide 12). This event led to divisive arguments in Congress over the threat paused by expanding enslavement. Consequently, the Whig Party crumbled, and the Democrat alignment split, leading to the ultimate breakdown of the second two-party system.
The Election of 1860
The most notable aspect of the election of 1860 is the electoral divide between the North and South. The uncompromising difference about the issues of slavery and freedom between southern and northern states led to divisions in the country. However, the results of this controversial poll country provided a clear demonstration of the deeply-rooted divisions among voters. As illustrated on the map below, the outcome of the political contest not only split the electoral in the North and South but also fractured the Democratic Party.
The outcome of the 1860 presidential election is one of the most prominent aspects in the secession. Particularly, President Abraham Lincoln’s pledge to abolish slavery from all territories aggravated long-standing tensions and differences about the slavery system between the North and South. This event led to several proslavery states secede because they believe that President Lincoln would abolish slavery and favor Northern interests.
Kins, W. (2019). Web.
Political Crises in 1840s & 1850s Presentation.