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Table of Contents

Section I ~ Prelude to War

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

The Dred Scott Case

Do my essay on The Civil War CHEAP !

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates 4

Illustrations of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates 5

Section II ~ War

The Battle of Antietam 6

Illustration of the Battle of Antietam 7

The Emancipation Proclamation 8

The Draft Riots

Section III ~ Reconstruction

The Assassination of Lincoln 10

Illustration of Lincoln’s Assassination 11

The Black Codes ~ The Freedmen’s Bureau 1

Bibliography 1

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

In the 1850s the nation’s two major political parties, the Democrats and the Whigs, split into Northern and Southern sections. Most of the Northern Whigs joined a new group called the Republican Party, and most of the Southern Whigs joined a group called the Southern Democrats. The Republican Party was very much against slavery, but the Southern Democrats fought to keep slavery. Besides slavery, the North and the South battled over a railroad route. In 1854, Congress began making plans for a transcontinental railroad to link the West Coast to the eastern part of the nation. The Southern politicians wanted the railroad to run along a southern route, but the Western politicians wanted a central route through the Great Plains.

Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois was a popular Northern Democrat who favored the central route that would split a large portion of the land into two territories called Kansas and Nebraska. In order to keep everyone happy, Senator Douglas tried to work out a compromise. He passed into law The Kansas-Nebraska Act that would allow each territory to decide for itself whether or not to enter the Union as a slave state or as a free state. He thought that it would help him get Southern support for a central railroad route. But the Act did not work out. It went against the Missouri Compromise that Senator Douglas had once said was a sacred thing. Instead of making peace, it started fighting in Kansas when the proslavery and antislavery settlers tried to get control of the vote.

While the North and South fought over “Bleeding Kansas,” the Supreme Court made a bad situation even worse. The Court ruled in the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that Congress could not ban slavery in the territories.

The Dred Scott Case

Dred Scott was born in Virginia around 17. All of his family were slaves and they belonged to the Peter Blow family. He spent his whole life as a slave and never learned how to read or write. In 180, Dred Scott moved to St. Louis, Missouri with the Blow family and was sold to a military surgeon named Dr. John Emerson. Scott often went with his new owner to posts in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery had been outlawed by the Missouri Compromise of 180. He married another slave named Harriet Robinson and they had two children. When Dr. Emerson died in 184, his wife hired out Dred, Harriet, and their children to work for other families.

On April 6, 1846, Dred Scott and his wife file a law suit against Mrs. Emerson to get their freedom. For almost nine years the Scotts lived in free territories, but they were still used and hired out as slaves. He filed the suit in a Missouri court, claiming that because he lived in a free territory, he should be a free man. The court ruled against Scott and his family. They were considered to be property instead of people, and property could not be taken away from its owner. The Scotts then appealed to the Supreme Court and Southern politicians convinced the Court to hear the case, hoping to protect their legal rights to own slaves. In March 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney said that Scott was a slave and not a citizen, which means he had no right to sue in a federal court. Taney also said that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and the Federal Government had no right to prohibit slavery in the new territories. The South was happy about the ruling in Dred Scott vs. Sandford, but the North opposed the court’s decision. Even though Scott remained a slave, his trial was the first and most famous court case in history to try and end slavery.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas ran against each other for an Illinois seat in the United States Senate. The two men had major differences in opinions and both of them were very passionate about their beliefs. It was the public debates between Lincoln and Douglas that first brought national popularity to Lincoln in 1858. The debates were held in seven Illinois towns and had brass bands, fireworks, and red, white, and blue banners on all of the buildings. Thousands of people came from all over to hear the men exchange their views and opinions about slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was 6’4” tall and looked like a hard working pioneer. He did not dress fancy and had been an athlete when he was young. Stephen Douglas was only 5’4” tall and dressed in elegant ruffled shirts and wide-brimmed felt hats. He was called the “Little Giant” because of his powerful voice. The two men were a complete contrast to each other, both in looks and ideas.

As Lincoln and Douglas campaigned, people everywhere realized that there was one major issue of the election, which was slavery in the territories. This election could determine the future of the entire nation. Lincoln accepted the Republican senatorial nomination and opened his campaign with a powerful speech on June 16, 1858. He said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.” Douglas rose to Lincoln’s challenge. Many years earlier, the two men had argued opposite sides in a murder case, and agreed to face off in a series of debates from August to October. Douglas was very strong in his belief that the people of each territory should decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery. Lincoln argued that slavery was immoral.

Illustrations of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates

The present-day map

of Illinois shows the seven towns where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated

1. Freeport

. Ottawa

. Charleston

4. Jonesboro

5. Alton

6. Quincy

7. Galesburg

Statues, monuments, and plaques mark the sites in Illinois

where Lincoln and Douglas defended their positions.

These statues are standing in Alton, Illinois.

(From The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Brendan January, pages 1 and .)

The Battle of Antietam

The bloodiest battle of the war was fought near Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg, Maryland. It was called the Battle of Antietam, but some Southern historians called it the Battle of Sharpsburg. On September 16, 186, Major General George B. McClellen confronted Lee’s Army at Sharpsburg. September 17 was the single bloodiest day in American military history. More than ,500 men ended up dead, wounded, and missing in just one day. More than twice as many Americans were killed or wounded at Antietam that day then in the War of 181, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

On September 17, the two armies fought very hard from morning to night with frontal attacks on each other. The Union army battled with determination because they did not want the dishonor of another defeat. Yankee soldiers were not driven to fight by bravery or discipline. They just did not want to be embarrassed or shamed by defeat. Men on both sides were loading their weapons and firing without having any kind of strategy. The fields were covered with dead or wounded men. One soldier said that for an instant, the whole landscape turned red. Another veteran said that you could walk across the cornfield without stepping on the ground.

Lee withdrew his army on the night of September 18 and went back across the Potomac. Even though both sides lost about the same number of men and there was no clear winner of the battle, it was seen as a great victory for the North. The Battle of Antietam was the victory that Lincoln needed. Five days after the battle, he told his cabinet that he was going to issue the Emancipation Proclamation to try and change the Northern objectives of the war and to make sure that all slaves get their freedom.

Illustration of the Battle of Antietam

In the single bloodiest day of the Civil War, the Union army turned

back the Confederate invasion of Maryland at the Battle of Antietam

on September 17, 186. It was the victory that President Lincoln

needed before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

(From The Civil War by Alden R. Carter, page 6.)

The Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln decided to issue a presidential order to free all slaves in the “rebellious states.” He drafted a “Preliminary Proclamation” and read it to William H. Seward and Gideon Welles on July 1, 186. The men were confused about it, so Lincoln let the matter drop for a little while. Then on September , 186, President Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet. He hoped that the Emancipation Proclamation would give the North a new sense of purpose, encourage thousands of slaves to escape to Union lines, and discourage European countries from siding with the South. When it went into effect on January 1, 186, slaves in the rebellious Southern states were declared free, but the slavery issue was far from over. The Proclamation did not apply to the slaves in border states still within the Union or to parts of Louisiana and Tennessee controlled by loyal Unionists there.

At first, it didn’t seem like the Emancipation Proclamation actually freed any slaves. But tens of thousands of slaves had left their plantations and were living behind Union lines. These slaves would be freed by the Proclamation. Thousands of more slaves lived in areas that were technically in rebellion, but were really under Union control. The Emancipation Proclamation also forced Northerners who were against slavery to commit themselves to the war, because if they just gave up it would mean that millions of blacks would be slaves for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, the Northerners who supported a war to save the Union would not fight for black freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation actually did change the Northern objectives of the war. For the first time, black Americans were invited to enlist in the armed forces, and eventually over 10,000 black men fought for the Union.

The Draft Riots

The civil war was the first American war that drafted soldiers. On March , 186, almost two years after the war started, Congress passed a law called the Union Conscription Act. Since the army could not get enough people to volunteer, men were drafted into the army whether or not they wanted to go. Men being drafted would be called by lottery. The law was especially hard on poor people. If a man’s name was called, he could be excused from the draft by paying a fee of $00. Or, he could pay another man to go in his place. Either one of these choices would make him exempt from the entire war. Rich men could afford to do that, but poor men could not.

When the first names were called for the draft in New York City, large-scale bloody riots broke out. For four days (July 1-16, 186) 50,000 people ran through the streets, burning houses, and robbing stores. The rioters blamed black people for the war. They burned down an orphanage that cared for black children, leaving hundreds of children homeless. Hundreds of black people were beaten to death or tortured. White people who had spoken out against slavery were attacked.

The law that allowed rich people to buy their way out of the draft was resented very much. The Tammany city government voted to pay the necessary $00 for anyone who might be drafted. New York troops were rushed back, and with the help of the police, militia, naval forces, and cadets from West Point, they were able to restore order.

President Lincoln supported the Democratic commission that investigated the draft in New York. The riots caused about $1.5 million to $ million in property damage, and had been estimated to have about 1,000 casualties.

The Assassination of Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth was an actor who performed in many plays around the country. He was also a racist and a Southern sympathizer during the civil war. Booth hated Abraham Lincoln because he represented everything that Booth was against. Booth blamed President Lincoln for everything that went wrong in the South. In 1864, Booth started working on plans to kidnap Lincoln and hold him in return for the Confederate prisoners of war. He organized a group of other people with the same ideas, and held meetings with them.

On March 17, 1865, the group planned to kidnap Lincoln who was supposed to attend a play just outside of Washington. President Lincoln changed his plans and stayed in the capital. On April 11, 1865, Lincoln spoke to a group of people just outside of the White House. Booth attended the speech and became very angry when Lincoln said that some blacks should be given the right to vote. Booth became so mad that he decided to kill Lincoln instead of just kidnapping him. On April 14, Booth found out the President Lincoln and General Grant were going to be attending the evening performance of a play called Our American Cousin at the Ford Theater. Booth and his group of followers made plans to kill Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and William Seward all at the same time, which was 1015 p.m. They figured that without these men the weakness in government would lead to a comeback for the South.

Booth sneaked into the State Box where the Lincolns were sitting with Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone. He shot Lincoln in the back of the head at almost point-blank range. Then he jumped down, ran through the audience, and escaped out the back door. President Lincoln died early the next morning.

Illustration of Lincoln’s Assassination

The actor John Wilkes Booth, shot President Lincoln

while he watched a stage play at Ford’s Theater in

Washington on the evening of April 14, 1865.

President Lincoln died the next morning.

(From The Civil War by Alden R. Carter, page 54.)

The Black Codes ~ The Freedmen’s Bureau

For many white Americans, the civil war was about preserving the Union. But for blacks it was about freedom and the emancipation from slavery. Unfortunately, many newly freed slaves learned that freedom was not what they thought it would be. In 1865, Southerners created the Black Codes as a way to control and sometimes block the freedom of former slaves. The Codes controlled almost all aspect of black peoples’ lives and took away all of the freedoms that they had won. Although things could not be exactly the same as they were in slavery, the Southerners found a way to guarantee that the blacks would still have to serve as their laborers by creating the Black Codes.

An important part of the Black Codes was their unequal and unfair system of punishment. The Codes allowed white employers to whip their black workers for just about any reason. If a black worker was caught stealing food, he could be severely beaten and forced to work even harder. If blacks were caught getting together with other blacks, they could be sent to prison. The Black Codes prohibited blacks from marrying whites, holding positions in office, and voting. Even though the blacks were called “free” people, they were still being treated like slaves. In 1866, Federal Officials put a stop to the Black Codes because they thought they were too harsh, and they wanted blacks and whites to be treated equal.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established on March , 1865, after two years of debates. It was commonly called the Freedmen’s Bureau and took care of all matters concerning refugees and freedmen within the states that were under reconstruction. It helped over four million former slaves by giving them food and clothes. It made sure that they were treated properly.


1. January, Brendan; The Lincoln-Douglas Debates; Children’s Press, Canada, � 18.

. Carter, Alden R.; The Civil War; Time-Life Books, Inc., New York, NY, � 1.

. Collier, Christopher and Collier, James Lincoln; The Civil War, 1860-1865; Benchmark Books, Tarrytown, NY, � 000.

4. Levinson, Dorothy; The Civil War; Franklin Watts, New York, NY, � 177.

5. Somerlott, Robert; The Lincoln Assassination in American History; Enslow Publishers, Inc. Springfield, NJ, � 18.

6. http//www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A08700.html

7. http//www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h.html

8. http//lincoln.lib.niu.edu/debates.html

. http//www.altonweb.com/history/lincoln/

10. http//www.multied.com/civilwar/antietam.html

11. http//odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/al16/writings/emancip.htm

1. http//www.multied.com/civilwar/Draft.html

1. http//www.multied.com/civilwar/assas.html

14. http//afroamhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa1100a.htm

15. http//www.civilwarhome.com/freedmen.htm

16. http//www.historyplace.com/civilwar/

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