Civil War Expansion Into Western Term Paper

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In an era that would come to be known as "Bleeding Kansas," the territory became a battleground over the slavery question. "Most settlers who had come to Kansas from the North and the South only wanted to homestead in peace. They were not interested in the conflict over slavery, but they found themselves in the midst of a battleground. Violence erupted throughout the Kansas territory between pro and anti-slavery activists, resulting in a death toll of staggering numbers. Several attempts were made to draft a constitution that Kansas could use to apply for statehood. Some versions were proslavery, others free state. Finally, a fourth convention met at Wyandotte in July 1859, and adopted a free state constitution. Kansas applied for admittance to the Union. However, the proslavery forces in the Senate strongly opposed its free state status, and stalled its admission. Only in 1861, after the Confederate states seceded, did the constitution gain approval and Kansas become a state. ("Bleeding Kansas," PBS Website, 2004)

The Fugitive Slave Act, another part of the 1850 compromise also proved less than satisfactory in clarifying issues about the legal implications of Western expansion and its relationship with the slavery question. The act's full implications came under consideration of the U.S. Supreme Court when Dred Scott, a slave, who had been purchased by army surgeon John Emerson, a citizen of Missouri, spent time in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited. "After Emerson's death in 1846, Scott sued for his freedom, claiming that his journey to free soil had made him free." ("Dred Scott," 2004) the case reached the Supreme Court where a decision was reached in 1857, which found that the man was still the property of his master's heirs, because his 'time' spent in free territory did not 'cancel out' his status as a slave.

Even after Civil War, Blacks did not enjoy equal rights in both spheres of the union. The failed policies of Reconstruction ended in the election of 1876, an election that ensured that America would remained divided between North and South in its legal policies. By 1876, the country as a whole was "growing weary of Reconstruction policies, which kept federal troops stationed in several southern states." ("Elections,", 2004) the Grant administration had also become tainted by numerous scandals. In 1874 the House of Representatives had gone Democratic. The Democratic Samuel Tilden won the popular vote of the Presidential election, "but the Republicans needed all 20 contested electoral votes. Nineteen of them came from South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida -- states that the Republicans still controlled." ("Elections,", 2004)

All of these states were suspect, because of the Democratic state's tampering with Black voter's access to voting polls. "Protesting Democratic treatment of black voters, Republicans insisted that Hayes had carried those states but that Democratic electors had voted for Tilden. Two sets of election returns existed -- one from the Democrats, one from the Republicans. Congress had to determine the authenticity of the disputed returns. Unable to decide, legislators established a fifteen-member commission composed of ten congressmen and five Supreme Court justices. The commission was supposed to be nonpartisan, but ultimately it consisted of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. The final decision was to be rendered by the commission unless both the Senate and the House rejected it. The commission accepted the Republican vote in each state. The House disagreed, but the Senate concurred, and Hayes and Wheeler were declared president and vice president." ("Elections,", 2004) Even after the decision, however, the tensions between the two regions remained. In the aftermath of the commission's decision, the federal troops that remained in the South were withdrawn, thus ending Reconstruction and the commitment of the federal government to create an equal America for the four million African-Americans living in the region.

Works Cited

1850 Compromise." PBS Website. 2004

Bleeding Kansas." PBS Website. 2004

Dred Scott." U.S. History. 2004.

Elections." Answers. Com. American History information about Elections from the Reader's Companion to American History, Eric Foner and John a. Garraty, Editors, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. More from American History. 2004.

The Louisiana Purchase." History of the Louisiana Purchase. 2005.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787."

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