Back when our country was beginning to form we were a very separated society that was eager to expand. Slavery had a major impact on the U.S. economy for production purposes throughout the 1800s. During this time the south was producing large amounts of cotton which was in high demand. When the Cotton Gin was introduced, it made the process of picking cotton from the plant much more efficient and caused the production rate to increase dramatically. With this increase, slaves became even more of a necessity than they already were and by the year 1860, the population of slaves had increased by a striking amount.
While some people benefited from slavery, others were not very enthusiastic about it. This begins with a point of high stress in our nation’s history. Some pro-slave activists argued to keep slavery and abolitionists wanted it to end. This issue caused our country to turn on itself. The compromise of 1850 is the solution that the government came up with.
Within the compromise, there were four parts to it. First, it stated that California would transition to a free state. The second thing is that there would be no market for slaves allowed in Washington D.C. Third was that New Mexico and Utah both were given the power to choose on their own if they wanted to be pro or anti-slavery. This choice given to them was called popular sovereignty which created a lot of big problems. In 1854 Kansas gets recognized as a state due to the Kansas-Nebraska act and they would decide if they were going to be a free state or a slave state and join the union using popular sovereignty.
The debate causes murders and other forms of violence to spread quickly. At this period, people referred to the state as Bleeding Kansas. The fugitive slave act is the last piece of the compromise. The act made it so citizens that harbored a fugitive slave would get a $1,000 reward. Pro-slave activists and abolitionists were not satisfied with the compromise. The compromise caused an unfavorable backlash for both sectors that the government tried to progress. Only those who couldn’t care less about what happened were the ones who did not have a pessimistic outlook on the subject matter. The compromise failed to alleviate the strain on slavery.
Next in history, Abraham Lincoln gets elected to be president. Most people believe that Lincoln is the person who freed the slaves which couldn’t be more false. Lincoln’s wish was not to end slavery at all. He was mainly driven by the fact that he didn’t want to be known as the president who let America fall apart. Lincoln supported the idea of free soil which plan was to allow the slave states to remain and let newly discovered lands be free states. The free soil idea was unsuccessful due to slaves attempting to free themselves by escaping to the free lands and in some instances, slave owners would attempt to bring slaves with them to the north. Dred Scott is an important man in history because he became a free man after his owner’s passing and then was then put back into slavery. Scott had been born in Missouri. He was used to assisting with his owner’s medical practice. As a slave, Scott had an amazing life living in the free state of Michigan. He had a family consisting of a wife and two children. At the time of the Seminole war, Scott’s owner moved to Florida to help aid troops. While in Florida his owner died and Scott along with his family remained in Michigan on his land. After the death of his owner, Scott travels home to Missouri to see his family. Once he arrives he and his family get arrested and are put back into slavery. Scott decides that he wants to go to court to try and gain back his freedom.
This gets historically known as the Dred Scott vs Sanford case. The Missouri state court decides that Scott and his family will remain slaves. The supreme court doesn’t even find out about the case until the year 1856. Robert B. Taney is the chief justice of the supreme court in 1857. He decides that Black people are not included as citizens in the constitution. This means that they can not claim any rights that belong to United States citizens. Taney adds that African Americans have no rights at all which white people must honor and that black people might be put in slavery for their gain. Shortly after his decision, the secession of America begins in 1861. The southern states want to be their own country with their leader and part from Lincoln and the northern states. The first state that split from the north was South Carolina, and the rest quickly follow in its path. They create their military and elect a president to have power. Lincoln is doing everything he can to protect all the federal forts of the United States, which also includes the ones located in the south. This caused Lincoln to send a supply boat to Charleston to aid his troops.
The south takes this as a threat and fires shots at it. Both sides say that the other started the war because the north say that the south fired first but the south says that the north invaded first. Regardless of who started it, this is the beginning of the Civil war. At this time Lincoln tries to keep together his free-soil idea, so in 1862, the homestead act gets passed and it hands out millions of acres of land in the west. The plan was that white males would go west to colonize the land in return for cheap prices to buy the land once settled for at least 6 months. If a person could maintain the land for 5 years then it would be given to them with just a small tax by the government. Only the northern states migrated west due to the south being occupied by the war that was taking place in their territory and didn’t have the money because of the war costs. Lincoln then ordered the preliminary emancipation proclamation. This gave slaves their freedom if they were under rebellion still as of January first, 1862.
Jefferson Davis is soon elected to be the president of the confederates. Lincoln gets re-elected to be the president of the U.S. in 1864 and General Lee soon resigns and switches over to join and lead the confederation. The confederates fight the union for four years but don’t have the power to overcome them. Most of the battles were in the Confederate territory as well. General Lee eventually gives up and surrenders to the union and the war ends. Four days after General Lee’s surrender, Lincoln gets assassinated by John Wilkes Booth who shoots him while he’s watching a play. The 13th amendment gets passed by congress in 1865 right after Lincoln’s death. The 13th amendment is what abolished slavery and involuntary servitude unless it was a punishment for a crime where the perpetrator has been convicted. From 1865 to 1876 is known as the reconstruction period. The union is trying to figure out what to do with all the newly freed slaves which is hard because none of them have been educated in the slightest. To fix this issue, an idea called 40 acres and a mule is proposed. This would have taken land away from the south and given it to the former slaves; President Johnson decides against this proposal. Another proposal to fix the problem does take effect though called Freedman’s Bureau/Banks. The Bureau was new schools that were made for former slave children to get them educated. In Mississippi, a few white people become angered by these all-black schools so they created all-white schools to get back. Black people still couldn’t get loans from regular banks due to racists so Freedman banks were created all over the south which allowed black people to borrow money.
These banks and bureaus were very helpful ideas for black people until white racists began burning them all down. This is the beginning of segregation and the creation of the Black codes which were laws that were placed for the rights of African Americans to be very limited. These codes made it extremely hard for black people to vote once they got the right to and in certain places made they couldn’t lease or rent any land. This is the reason the 14th amendment is created, which states what citizenship means. “All persons born/neutralized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens.” The 15th amendment is placed right after which finally gives black people the right to vote even though it was still extremely hard for their vote to count. This is because black people still had no education and white people who didn’t want them to vote made literacy tests required for the vote to count. Other obstacles that stood in the way of blacks being able to have a voice and have their votes count was new poll taxes that were established. This caused people to have to pay to vote and at the time African Americans were still very poor and most of them could not afford to vote. Some states also added a law called the grandfather clause which made it even more of a challenge for black people to vote because it stated that the only people who could vote were the ones whose grandfather had voted before the year 1864 which was super unlikely.
John B. Hayes is elected president in 1876. The election was 50% popular and 50% electoral vote so the electoral commission gets sent to Gainesville to decide who the next president will be. This commission is made up of five Republicans, five senators, five justices, and 7 democrats. The republicans heavily outweighed the democrats which made the election very one-sided. This heavily aggravates the south. The south had corrupted the votes as well with the Mississippi plan which was to act violently at the polls to scare off any black votes. A compromise is proposed by the northern states called the compromise of 1877, which would move federal soldiers out of the south in trade for the president to be a republican. This ended the reconstruction period. White people however wanted to be separate from black people still. Plessy vs. Ferguson is a major case in history where segregation is legalized. Homer Plessy is a mixed man who lived in the colored part of town. He was traveling to St. Louise but wanted to take the train to get there. He gets denied to board because of racial discrimination in the part of town he lives on. Plessy goes to the supreme court with this case and segregation gets legalized. Another big issue was sharecropping which was where a former slave family would be able to live on a person’s land in trade for a land investment.
They would tend the fields to try to make a living but the prices of cotton had started to plummet due to European cotton beginning to take off. This caused these former slaves to come into debt to the landowner and yet again become their slaves. At this period a lot of people have faith in the Manifest destiny which was that it was our god-given fate to move to the west. This massive migration cause many Native American tribes to be taken from their land. The native Americans tried to fight for their land but in the 1870s the colt peacemaker, a 6-round pistol, is invented which gives white people a massive upper hand. The frontier was a success and the west gets taken over and is now part of the United States. A man named Frederick Jackson disputed that there was no real frontier because people already lived in that area. He was incorrect because there were still lots of remote spaces. Towards the end of the 1800s newspapers began to get prominent. People wanted to know what was going on in the news. The thing that caught people’s eye the most was yellow journalism. This is journalism where the truth is stretched. This makes people assume things that aren’t happening based on the way it is written. Publishing companies began to elongate the stories which cause the newspaper industry to boom with success. One of the best examples is a woman named Evangelina Cisnero who lived in Havana, Cuba. The story was told that five Spanish soldiers came to her house to rape her and she denies them so they put her in jail. This story spread all over America like crazy and left the readers wanting more. One publisher from America travels to Cuba to help her escape by using a donkey to break down her cell wall.
He publishes the story with the title, “Virgin Saved from Cuban Soldiers.” Everyone in America hears about the story and it makes people become intrigued about the problem in Cuba. At this same time, sends Cuba wants to be freed from Spanish rule. Spain sends over troops but all the chaos the Cuban people are causing in their protest is ruining the country on its own. Many newspaper companies; The Hearst family newspaper company particularly, had people that were in Cuba sending pictures back to them which made it look like a war was happening even though there was really nothing going on. At this time Spain began to take the Cubans to Reconcentrado Camps so they would not be able to revolt. Many of these Cubans starved or got diseases which fueled American Publishers writing about the disputes between Cuba and Spain. Since we buy most of Cuba’s Sugar; by the 1890s America had owned about 90% of the Cuban economy. America now has a lot of interest and investment in Cuba so they send U.S. troops over. President James Monroe creates the Monroe Doctrine that states we wouldn’t disturb any colonies, or sensors involved in European wars, that European countries had to inform us if they planned to come to America and that America is closed for colonization. America goes against the Doctrine and sends the Battleship Maine to Havana bay. In the middle of the night, the ship explodes due to our own mistake and America blames Spain. This is the start of the Spanish-American war, as America declares war on Spain, which leads to the Teller Amendment that stated we were going to help Cuba but no other islands around it. This was great for America because it allowed us to have protection and control of the Gulf of Mexico.
Spain did not want war with America because they didn’t stand a chance. The Treaty of Paris is what finally ends the war and it was made up of three agreements. First Spain had to give Cuba independence, then they had to give their territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine island to America, and lastly, America would pay Spain $20 million. This was an awful deal for Spain but they had no other option. The United States remained very powerful over Cuba due to the U.S army still being over there and the U.S. purchasing almost all its cash crop. The United States over time let Cuba be an independent country as long as they didn’t govern themselves. Cuba writes a constitution that is very similar to that of the United States. The U.S. takes their constitution and adds the Platt Amendment. This makes it so Cuba can’t make any treaties with other countries, they couldn’t trade with other countries, they had to allow the U.S. to send the marines over to aid them if need be, and Cuba had to give Guantanamo Bay to the United States, which is still owned and used by the U.S. to this day.