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Causes of Cvil War Timeline

Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842) The treaty divided the contested territory between Maine and British Canada while also establishing the boundary for the Minnesota territory, ultimately placing the iron-rich Mesabi Range within the United States' jurisdiction.

Fugitive Slave act (1850) As part of the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act mandated the return of escaped slaves to their owners, even if they had sought refuge in a free state. This act also empowered the federal government to actively participate in the apprehension and return of fugitive slaves.

Underground Railroad (1830-1860s) The Underground Railroad constituted a decentralized coalition of individuals dedicated to aiding enslaved individuals in their journey to find freedom in the North or Canada. The majority of those guiding these escapees, known as "Conductors," included free African Americans and individuals who had personally escaped enslavement with the support of White abolitionists.

Election of Abraham Lincoln (1860) The newly formed Republican Party selected Abraham Lincoln, a small-town lawyer, as their presidential candidate. Lincoln campaigned on a platform that included several key policies, such as the exclusion of slavery from the territories, protective tariffs to support industry, granting free land to homesteaders, investing in internal improvements to facilitate Western settlement, including a transcontinental railroad, and a temporary acceptance of slavery where it already existed but opposing its expansion into new territories.

Buchanan's Presidency James Buchanan, a Democratic president from the South, assumed office right after the controversial Dred Scott Decision. He was widely unpopular in the North, where he was perceived as a weak and corrupt leader who prioritized the interests of the South and the preservation of slavery. Buchanan's presidency was marred by these criticisms, especially in the context of mounting tensions between the North and South leading up to the American Civil War.

Bleeding Kansas (1854-1856) The Kansas-Nebraska Act led to a violent guerrilla war between pro-slave and anti-slave forces in Kansas. This further intensified the debate over slavery and hastened tensions leading to the civil war. In all, 55 people died and Kansas was secured as a free state.

Ostend Manifesto (1854) Slave owners' desires to extend slavery into new territories led to their interest in Cuba as a potential slave state. There was a document that argued the United States should acquire Cuba from Spain, or else they would declare war on Spain. However, in the end, the United States did not pursue either option.

Missouri Compromise (1820) The Missouri Compromise entailed the acceptance of Missouri as a slave-holding state and the admission of Maine as a free state while concurrently prohibiting the practice of slavery in all remaining areas of the Louisiana Territory located north of a specific latitude line. This compromise, conceived by Henry Clay, received approval from both houses of Congress and was subsequently signed into law by President Monroe.

Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) Drafted by Senator Stephen Douglas, this act repealed the missouri compromise and created two new territories. It allowed for popular sovereignty, which is government based on the consent of the people, or popular vote. This led to the violent “Bleeding Kansas.”

Texas Revolution (1836-1845) Tensions escalated between Americans and Mexicans in 1829 due to Mexico's abolition of slavery and the mandate for all immigrants to embrace Roman Catholicism. A shift in Mexico's government further exacerbated the discord, ultimately culminating in a full-blown revolt.

Mexican-American War (1846-1848) The Mexican-American War represented the initial instance of a U.S. military conflict primarily occurring on foreign land. This confrontation featured a politically divided and militarily ill-prepared Mexico facing off against the expansionist-minded administration of President James K. Polk.

Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852) "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" was a novel that portrayed slavery as a cruel and unjust institution, challenging the prevailing cultural norms and beliefs about both slavery and Black individuals at the time. Upon its release, many White southerners feared that the book's explicit condemnation of the slave system would incite slave rebellions and uprisings due to its powerful critique.

Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 encompassed multiple components. Among them were the admission of California as a free state and the resolution of the Texas border, designating the territories of New Mexico and Utah from the regions previously claimed by Texas as recognized territories.

Gadsden Purchase (1853) The Gadsden Purchase provided the United States with a parcel of land spanning approximately 30,000 square miles, encompassing parts of present-day New Mexico and Arizona. This acquisition was the outcome of a $10 million purchase from Mexico as per the Treaty of Mesilla.

Dred-Scott Decision (1857) Dred Scott, in his attempt to sue his former owner, argued that he should be granted freedom because he had resided in the free territory of Wisconsin for two years. However, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case asserted that African Americans could not bring lawsuits because they were not considered United States citizens. Additionally, the Court declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, effectively allowing slavery to extend into previously prohibited territories. This decision played a significant role in the North's shift toward the Republican Party and fueled beliefs in a Southern conspiracy to promote and protect slavery.

John Brown's Raid (1859) John Brown was not a former slave but rather a white abolitionist who led a slave revolt at Harpers Ferry. His goal was to incite enslaved individuals to rise up against their oppressors. However, the federal government swiftly quelled the revolt in just two days. Brown and his associates were arrested, tried for treason, and subsequently executed. The Harpers Ferry raid exacerbated the divide in the United States because it highlighted the stark differences between the North, which sympathized with the plight of enslaved individuals, and the South, which viewed Northern support as a threat to the institution of slavery and the Southern way of life.

Formation of The Confederate States of America (1861) Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana voted to secede from the United States and form their own union, known as the Confederate States of America. They drafted a constitution that resembled the U.S. Constitution but with provisions that emphasized limitations on the central government's ability to levy tariffs and regulate slavery. They elected their own president and vice president during this period of secession and the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Fort Sumter (1861) Fort Sumter, located in Charleston Harbor, was cut off by Southern control, and instead of surrendering the fort or actively defending it, President Abraham Lincoln chose to send provisions and food to the small federal garrison stationed there. He presented South Carolina with the option of allowing the fort to continue receiving supplies or initiating hostilities. South Carolina officially began the Civil War by opening fire on Fort Sumter, leading to most Northerners rallying behind a patriotic cause to preserve the Union.

American Civil War (1861-1865) The American Civil War was fought between the Union (the northern states) and the Confederacy (the southern states). The primary issues at the heart of the conflict were the moral question of slavery and the assertion of states' rights. Two prominent military leaders during the Civil War were Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Confiscation Acts (1861-1862) The Confiscation Acts were a series of laws during the American Civil War that allowed the federal government to confiscate property, including slaves, from Confederate forces. These acts heightened tensions between the North and the South during the conflict.

The Homestead Act (1862) The Homestead Act was a significant piece of legislation that spurred growth in the western regions of the country. It granted 160 acres of public land to individuals who were willing to farm and improve it. This facilitated the distribution of land to settlers, encouraging westward expansion and the establishment of farms and communities.

Emancipation Proclamation (1863) The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, was a crucial document during the American Civil War. It declared that all people held as slaves in Confederate territory should be considered free. While it did not immediately end slavery in the entire nation, it had a transformative impact on the war. The proclamation made every advance of Union troops a step toward expanding freedom for enslaved individuals in the Confederate states.

The 13th Amendment (1865) The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States, making it illegal. It signified a crucial step toward granting freedom and equal rights to formerly enslaved individuals. The amendment was one of the three Reconstruction Amendments, alongside the 14th and 15th Amendments, which aimed to address issues related to civil rights, citizenship, and suffrage in the post-Civil War United States.