Although unity was greatly valued across the colonies, conflict in regard to slavery between opposing parties eventually developed into violence due to contention surrounding government policies and opinions on controversial topics. The slave and free states had disagreements about prohibiting slavery and were unable to compromise, especially with the debate over the amount of power the national government had to prohibit it or not. With these disagreements came battles, compromises, and debates that tried to fix the problem which ended up creating more issues between the north and south and led to the start of the Civil War.
The legislative, judicial, and executive branches affected the conflict by imposing harsh slave acts, enacting unfair compromises, making poor decisions in court, purchasing unprecedented land without prior knowledge of whether or not the land would be pro-slave or anti-slave, and spurring Lincoln-Douglas debates that changed the mindsets of people across the United States. First, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Acts in 1793 and 1850, which were meant for the slaves who had escaped.
These acts punished the runaway slaves by denying them the Constitutional right for a trial by jury, which was mentioned in Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution. The North strongly opposed these acts because they believed African Americans deserved natural rights, but the South wanted to continue the “white man’s rule” and enforce omnipotent legislation against slaves. This dispute caused a major split between the slave states and the free states, pushing the United States closer to war with lots of hostility from each territory.
This conflict de-escalated with the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted each slave as 3/5 of a person in order to satisfy population disputes. The Three Fifths compromise was crucial because it demonstrated that legislation can be critical to garnering certain individual rights to the African-American people. Next, slavery was such a controversial topic that there were numerous acts and comprises put forth in order to end the debate; unfortunately, none of them seemed to end the conflict until Abraham Lincoln was president.
The Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 both tried to create a bipartisan agreement betw the pro slave South and the anti-slave North. The Compromise of 1850 demonstrated that slavery would be prohibited above the 36° 30′ Parallel, with the exception of Missouri. The latter allowed the new conquered land to be equally divided into slave and free states. This appeased each side temporarily, but there were still arguments concerning the amount of states in each classification. However, this debate came to an end once the Kansas-Nebraska act declared that each state was expected to decide if they should be non-slave or slave.
This act crushed the previous two compromises and caused an uproar within the states. As a result of this, an even greater division was established between the North and South, and battles were fought at borders in order to decide whether the state should be free or slave. Third, in 1857, Dred Scott was invalidly denied his Constitutional freedom after living in a non-slave state. The U. S. Supreme Court had stated that African Americans were not able to become citizens due to their skin color and place in society.
In addition, the Supreme Court declared that the Missouri Compromise was actually unconstitutional. The Dred Scott decision perpetuated a great deal of controversy between the North and South, and eventually spurred the possibility of a large scale war. Roger Brooke Taney ended up making a horrendous mistake because he, “ignored precedent, distorted history, imposed a rigid rather than a flexible construction on the Constitution, ignored specific grants of power in the Constitution, and tortured meanings out of other, more-obscure lauses”.
The Chief justice denied Scott and other African Americans national rights. This court case proves that the sterile action of the judicial branch inevitably pushed the possibility of war into the minds of people everywhere. Fourth, the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France for three to four cents an acre is considered to be a great investment because it fulfills the theory of manifest destiny and works toward the inspiration of having land from ocean to ocean.
Known as the Louisiana Purchase, it opened up great opportunities to the United States and was one of Thomas Jefferson’s most important achievements. It introduced westward expansion, which made it possible for the United States to become a stable country and one of the great powers. Thomas Jefferson made it his goal to explore the west, and thought that the Louisiana purchase was a safe way to assure the U. S. safe passage while expediting.
Since the North and South had frequent debates over the balance between slave and non-slave states, the Louisiana Purchase caused them to have disagreements about this because the large amount of land could have overpowered either of the factions. Popular sovereignty comes into play here with advantages towards the people because of their superiority in the decision. However, some people were unhappy with this outcome because the land acquired by the Mexican Cession was becoming increasingly free-soil and the equal distribution of free and slave states were becoming unbalanced.
The executive branch played a pivotal role in sparking tension over this new land because the land had no previous affiliation to either a proslave scenario or an anti-slave scenario until it was purchased by Thomas Jefferson. Fifth, the Lincoln-Douglas debates were centered around slavery and trying to find a solution to the problem that divided the country in half. These debates were significant because they discussed many controversial topics such as the concept of racial equality and popular sovereignty.
Especially considering the battle that had just been fought in Kansas, the public needed to be aware of what was happening due to disagreements and how to fix them before real damage was done. These debates provided excellent insight as to what the American people were dealing with and solutions to solving them. These debates also introduced Lincoln and his beliefs, which contributed to him winning the presidential election in 1860. These debates changed the epistemology of many people across the United States when it came to the matter of racism.
Many people started to “open their eyes” and witness the horrors and unnatural human rights violations that were occurring. Finally, all three branches contributed to the civil war because of political injustices and the lack of respect of natural rights to African Americans and slaves, with other acts and policies causing uncertainty and dispute among the North and South. The Civil War was unavoidable because the controversy needed to be settled with compromise, which was not happening due to constant disagreements between the free and slave states.