Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War

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The Battle of Gettysburg had the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War

A timeline of events leading up to the American Civil War describes the events which historians recognize as contributing to the American Civil War.[1] Many of these events lead back to the founding of the country. The United States Constitution makes only a few mentions of slavery leaving it largely up to the individual states to govern it. As the Northern and Southern United States developed along separate lines, slavery eventually disappeared from the North.[1] It became an institution in the South.[1] As new parts of the country opened up to settlement the issues over slavery started a long-standing controversy between North and South.[2] It became a burning issue and led to secession of several Southern states.[2] This in general led to the Civil War.[2]

Timeline[change | change source]

1600s[change | change source]

  • Virginia makes slavery legal.[3]
  • About 2,000 of the 40,000 inhabitants of colonial Virginia are imported slaves. White indentured servants working for five years before their release are three times as numerous and provide much of the hard labor.[4]

1700s[change | change source]

  • Non-slaveholding farmers in Virginia think slave labor threatens their livelihoods. They persuade the Virginia General Assembly to discuss a prohibition of slavery or a ban on importing slaves. In response, the assembly raises the tariff on slaves to five pounds, which about equals the full price of an indenture, so as not to make importation of slaves as initially attractive or preferable to a mere indenture for a term of years.[7]
  • In South Carolina, the Stono Rebellion (or Cato's Conspiracy or Cato's Rebellion) was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies, with 21 whites and 44 blacks killed.[8]
  • New York City: another insurrection of slaves causes significant property damage; slaves are severely punished or executed.[9]

1800s[change | change source]

  • Under the provisions of the Northwest Ordinance, in March 1803 Ohio becomes the seventeenth state and is a free state.[3]
  • In 1804 New Jersey passes "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery."[11] Any female slaves born after July 4, 1804, would be free upon reaching 21 years of age.[11] Any male slaves born after that date would be free at age 25.[11] However, slave children could be placed in private homes and the state paid $3 a month for their care. They were still treated as slaves by a few who made large amounts of money from this legal loophole.[11]
  • In March Congress passes law banning importing of new slaves into the United States. The law becomes effective on January 1, 1808.[3]
  • On April 30, Louisiana becomes the eighteenth state.[12] It joins the Union as a slave state.[12]
  • In December Ohio becomes the nineteenth state.[3] It joins the Union as a free state.[3]
  • Mississippi becomes the twentieth state in December.[3] It joins the Union as a slave state.[3]
  • In December Illinois becomes the twenty-first state in the Union.[3] It joins as a free state.[3]
  • Alabama becomes the twenty-second state in December. It joins the Union as a slave state.[3]
  • On March 3, the Missouri Compromise is passed.[13] It was an agreement was between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories.[13] It admitted Missouri as a slave state to please the South and it also admitted Maine as a free state to please the North.[13] It kept the balance of power in the United States Senate between the free states and slave states. The plan also called for slavery to be banned from the Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36 degrees 30' north (also known as the Missouri Compromise Line), except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri.[13]
  • May, the House passes the first of several gag rules that automatically keep any petitions regarding slavery from being heard.[14]

In June Arkansas becomes the twenty-fifth state. Per the Missouri Compromise it joins the Union as a as a slave state.[3]|-

  • In January Michigan becomes the twenty-sixth state. It joins the Union as a free state.[3]
  • The House of Representatives finally repeals the gag rules concerning slavery issues on December 3.[14]
  • Frederick Douglass publishes his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass about his life as a slave. In March, Florida is the twenty-seventh state of the Union and joins as a slave state. In December, Texas also joins as a slave state becoming the Texas the twenty-eighth state of the Union.[3]
  • In December Iowa becomes the twenty-ninth state and joins as a free state.[3]
  • Wisconsin becomes the thirtieth state in the Union as a free state.[3]
  • Harriet Tubman escapes slavery in Maryland. She is credited as returning numerous times bringing out over 300 slaves.[3]

Key events that triggered the war[change | change source]

  • Bleeding Kansas was the immediate result of the Kansas-Nebraska act. It overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820 in that it allowed the settlers of the new territories to decide for themselves whether slavery would be allowed or not.[16] It caused a rush of pro-slavery and anti-slavery groups into Kansas to try to influence the voting.[16] It turned into an ugly war between groups of people who held strong opinions both for and against slavery.[17]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "About the Civil War, Timeline of Events". NPS.gov. The National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Causes Of The Civil War". HistoryNet. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 "Events Leading to War - A Civil War Timeline". The Civil War Home Page. civil-war.net. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. William O. Blake, History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, Ancient and Modern (1861) p. 372
  5. 5.0 5.1 "1688 Petition Against Slavery". Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  6. Ferenc M. Szasz, "The New York Slave Revolt of 1741: A Re-Examination." New York History (1967): 215-230 in JSTOR
  7. Dowdey, 1969, p. 274
  8. Ballard C. Campbell, ed. American Disasters: 201 Calamities That Shook the Nation (2008) pp 22-23.
  9. Thomas J. Davis, The New York Slave Conspiracy of 1741 as Black Protest. In Journal of Negro History Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 1971), pp. 17–30 in JSTOR
  10. James M. McPherson, Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (1982) p. 38 gives the year as 1775.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Douglas Harper. "Slavery in New Jersey". Slavery in the North. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Antebellum Louisiana (1812-1860)". KnowLA, Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Archived from the original on 25 October 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "1820 Congress passes the Missouri Compromise". This Day in History. A&E Television Network, LLC. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "The House "Gag Rule"". History, Art and Archives. United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 8 September 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 "Trigger Events of the Civil War". Civil War Trust. Archived from the original on 29 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 "Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854". Civil War Trust. Retrieved 30 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  17. "Bleeding Kansas". Legends of America. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "32a. The Dred Scott Decision". Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "The Dred Scott Decision". Teach US History. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 "Pre-War Key Events". This Day in the Civil War. Civil War Trust. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  21. "John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry". Civil War Trust. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Fort Sumter". History Vault. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  23. "Where the American Civil War Began". Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina. National Park Service. Retrieved 31 October 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]