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The Road To Civil War Essay

1850 words - 8 pages

The battle between armies did not begin until 1861, however the conflict within the Country began at its founding. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence which included “all men are created equal; and they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” he unintentionally yielded abolitionists stimulation in contradicting the institution of slavery. Despite the controversy slavery faced at the Constitutional Convention, the inclusion of the fugitive slave law, the extension of the African slave trade and the three-fifths clause were added with compromise, in anticipation of founding a Constitution and securing the Union, however it would be the ramifications of these laws that would ultimately divide the Country and begin the course to an inevitable civil war.

The debate over the issue of slavery began early in the creation of the United States and was present at the framing of the constitution. The debates were so intense that various delegates threatened to walk out. (Oakes 220) In the North, some states had already abolished slavery and others were in the process. Some believed that the institution of slavery was shrinking and soon would be nonexistent. Like Mr. Elsworth who stated “ as population increases poor laborers will be so plenty as to render slaves useless. Slavery in time will not be a speck in our Country”. (Madison's Journal) However, some delegates from the deep south like John Rutledge from South Carolina, argued that slaves were important for them economically and to remove the institution would make it unacceptable to agree to the Constitution. (citation needed) These southern delegates refused to join the Union unless slavery was protected some how, whether as population or as property. (Oakes 220) Other delegates argued that the inclusion of slavery in the constitution was an embarrassment to a country that was founded on the principles of liberty. However, the majority thought that the formation of the Union was more important than the disjunctive issue of slavery. ( Madison's Journal) The delegates were dedicated to forming the constitution and would make whatever “compromises seemed necessary”. (Oakes 220) In the end the convention came to a compromise that would ultimately lead to a Nation divided.

One of those compromises was the fugitive slave clause. It required states to return runaway slaves. (Oakes 220) This clause gave constitutional protection to the slaveholder; no matter what state or territory the slave could escape to, he was still a slave and could not be freed, and the emancipation laws of that territory were “null and void”. ( Bestor 14) The early fugitive slave clause was highly ignored and rarely enforced which irritated the Southerners. As part of the Compromise of 1850 a new fugitive slave law would be enacted. ( Dry) This law was created in attempt to settle disputes over the previous...

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