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Collapse of the two party system

Whigs only won 4 states and 42 electoral college votes in the 1852 election.
Democrats lost all but 23 free states (previously 91) in 1854 mid term elections due to northerners blaming them for the Kansas Nebraska act.
Whigs could not agree in national platform and were divided on the Kansas Nebraska act

In 1850s immigration and Catholicism were bigger issues than slavery. 1 million Irish catholics arrived between 1845 and 1854. Most native born Americans were Protestants and they feared a papal plot.
Between 1850 and 1855 the number of catholic bishops, priests and churches doubled. Catholics had a growing political power - especially in cities like Boston and New York.
German catholics outnumbered Irish but they had sufficient funds to buy land


Whig failure

Most Irish and Germans voted democrat. Whigs failed to respond to nativist concerns and in the 1852 election Whigs had pursed a pro- catholic campaign to secure the immigrant vote, this failed as immigrants voted democrat.
But Whigs alienated many northerners, who didn’t want to vote for a party supporting immigration. It meant northerners began to look for other parties as they felt alienated from both the democrat and the Whig party


The know nothings

Grew out of nativist concern of immigration and Catholicism. It was an offshoot from the order of the star spangled banner (early New York nativist society).
During 1850s the group mushroomed and brew an elaborate state and national structure was created. By 1854 the movement was so successful they took on the characteristics of a political party and they began to nominate their own candidate.
They appealed to northerners as they wanted a 21 year probationary period before immigrants get citizenship, wanted checks on immigration.
In 1854 had one million members and they won 63% of the vote in Massachusetts and won large scale support in the south from ex-Whigs.
They even changed their name to the American party.


The Republican Party

Northerners were also keen to support parties opposed to the expansion of slavery.
They were worried about the Kansas Nebraska act and ideas of the slave power conspiracy.
By 1854 it was clear either the know nothings or the republicans would take over the Whigs


Importance of Kansas

Duet the Kansas Nebraska act, Kansas would be under popular sovereignty.
Issue of Kansas was critical to the north as they thought if it expanded it would expand everywhere.
Important to the south as they thought if it didn’t expand then slavery would eventually die out


Attempts to influence events in Kansas

Massachusetts emigrant aid company sponsored 1,500 northerners to settle in Kansas.
Senator Atchison formed the plate county defence association which pledged to ensure Kansas became a slave state. Atchison sent 1,100 people from plate county, Missouri to vote (border ruffians). This was a mistake as proslavers would have won but these actions cast doubt in their victory.
Kansas became a slave state and Lecompton legislature was set up. They passed a series of pro slave laws (it became an offence to give aid to a fugitive slave).
But free soil settlers denied Lecompton and set up their government at Topeka.
A pro slavery posse entered Lawerence and tried to arrest free state leaders. They sacked Lawrence and burnt buildings. Northern journalists blew the event out of proportion.
According to reports dozens of free staters died but in reality one pro slaver died. This led to further violence.
John brown killed 5 pro slavers at Pottawatonie Creek, northern newspapers declared him a hero.
Pierce have to appoint a new governor - John Geary who patched up a temporary truce. Kansas and reporting in the north benefitted the Republican Party.
Bleeding Kansas became a rallying cry for northerners and was an example of the slave power conspiracy at work.


Problems for the American party

Decline in immigration in 1850s led to a decline in nativism
Some hated secretive side of the movement
Success meant it attracted old guard politicians - the people it aimed to purge
Failed to make their promises - critics called them the did nothings
New speaker in congress in 1855 was republican - Nathanial Banks, the event further divided the party.


Republican Party convention 1856

They held there first national convention in February 1856. This included people like Sumner, Wilmot, Seward and Banks.
Republican Party were against the democrat party, against the slave power conspiracy but they were unsure who was involved with the conspiracy but despite this it became an article of faith to them.
They were against the expansion of slavery but many did not want the immediate abolition of slavery.


Bleeding Sumner

1856 Sumner delivered a speech in congress. This lasted 5 hours and during the speech he insulted the representative of South Carolina Andrew Butler.
Due to his Preston Brooks (cousin of Butler), hit Sumner with a cane until he was almost dead. Sumner supporters claimed the injuries were so bad he couldn’t work for 2 years but southerners claimed he was milking his martyrdom.
Brooks was seen as a hero in the south and was sent hundreds of canes.
Bleeding Sumner outraged the north more than bleeding Kansas. It gave republicans a rallying cry and Brooks represented the slave power conspiracy was at work using force to silence free speech.


1856 American party convention

American party held their national convention in February 1856, after a call to repel the Kansas Nebraska act failed.
73 delegates left and formed the North American party. American party elected Fillmore as leader. He had southern sympathises, so was unlikely to win northern support.
Republicans elected Fremont as leader, this only happened as Nathanial Banks became leader of the North American party to allow Fremont to become republican leader. After this Banks resigned and urged all voters to vote republican


Republican platform and democrats leader

Republican platform was seen as radical. It said congress could reject slavery in territories and they supported northern Pacific railroad.
Democrats picked Buchanan as leader. He had four decades in public service and was northern but also acceptable for the south. His native state Pennsylvania was a battle ground state.
Democrats supported the 1850 compromise and popular sovereignty.


1856 election

Fremont has no southern support and the south may secede if he won. Democrats claimed to be he party of stability and accused the republicans of being rabid abolitionists.
American party (Fillmore) won 21.6% and 8 electoral college votes.
Republican (Fremont) won 33.1% and 114 electoral college votes.
Democrats (Buchanan) won 45.3% and 174 electoral college votes.
Democrats won all but one southern state and 5 northern states. They won due to 5 northern states. Republicans would have won if they gained Pennsylvania and Illinois. It showed that a party could win the election with only northern support


Dred Scott case

Scott was a slave who went with his master to Illinois then the Wisconsin territory. He claimed that he was fre as he was in a free state and territory.
The case reached the Supreme Court. March 1857 during Buchanan’s inaugural speech he said people should accept the decision. The Supreme Court said Scott couldn’t sue and that he wasn’t free. 7 of the 9 judges agreed with this. Curtis and McLean said Scott could sue and he was free as constitution gave congress power to govern territories.
Republicans claimed Taney told Buchanan he verdict before his speech. This fulled sectional tension and reinforced to the north that the slave power conspiracy was at work. It pushed northerners from the democrats to the republicans.


Buchanan mistakes

He appointed a pro southern cabinet. 4 were slave owners and Douglas had no place, said to be the slave power conspiracy at work.
1857 US industry hit depression. Buchanan did not believe in government intervention and did nothing. Republican tariffs were blocked by democrats in Congress.
Republicans benefitted in the 1858 mid term elections


Continuing issue of Kansas

Geary restored order. Obvious free staters were the majority. Given his commitment to popular sovereignty Buchanan needed to ensure the majority prevailed
Geary resigned in March 1857 and was replaced by walker.
June 1857 Lecompton Legislature organiser elections to create a convention to draw to a constitution to prepare for statehood.
Free staters suspected cheating and didn’t vote. Only 2,200 of 9,000 people voted. Pro slavers won all the seats.
October election held to elect a new territorial legislature. Walker managed to convince free staters to vote. Pro slavers still won and walker found cheating occurred. One village with 30 voters returned over 1,600 pro slavery votes.
Despite electoral rigging pro slavery dominated the convention and drew up a pro slavery constitution. This allowed for a referendum to accept the constitution or to accept one that guarantees the rights of slaveowners in Kansas already.
Walker urged Buchanan to reject the constitution. South threatened to secede if it was rejected. Buchanan accepted it and walker resigned.
This divided democrats, even some southerners were embarrassed with the clear cheating. Douglas attacked Buchanan and was called a traitor in return by southern democrats. Douglas sided with the republicans.
Senate passed the constitution 35 to 25 but the house rejected it 120 to 112. Buchanan let Kansas vote again.
Fair elections took place in August 1858 and 11,300 votes against Lecompton legislature and only 1,788 in favour.
In January 1861 Kansas entered the union as a free state


1858 mid term elections
Douglas v Lincoln

This came at a bad one for democrats, they had a split party between Douglas and Buchanan supporters.
Douglas stood for re-elected as senator for Illinois and his rival was Lincoln from the Republican Party.
Lincoln was a former Whig who joined the republicans in 1856. His main concerns changed from economics to the slave power conspiracy.
They had seven debates at Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy and Alton between August and October 1858.
Huge crowds turned up and they both had similar moderate views they agreed black people were inferior and they both agreed on the free soil doctrine and popular sovereignty to keep slavery out of territories.
Lincoln also thought if slavery didn’t expand it would die, he wanted the extinction of slavery.
Lincoln won more votes but Douglas got more seats and was re-elected.
Douglas solidified his position as the leading democrat but alienated people with the Freeport doctrine (view that a territory could exclude slavery by refusing to enact laws to protect slave owning).


1858 mid term elections

National republicans took control of the House of Representatives.
States of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and New Jersey vote increased from 35% to 52% for the republicans
If repeated the republicans would win the 1860 election.
1858 mid term elections was evidence of Buchanan damaging the democrat party.


John browns harpers ferry raid

Brown and 18 men rode to federal arsenal at Harper’s ferry. Aim was to seize weapons and start a slave revolt.
Brown was supported by northern financial backers - the secret six
However the raid failed and Brown was tried for treason. He was found guilty and was executed December 1859.
This appalled southerners as a slave revolt was their worst fear. Northern democrats disagreed with brown and republicans dissociated themselves from him.
South saw republicans and brown as the same. As a result slabs patrols and local vigilante committed increased in numbers. Southern militia units began to drill.
In December 1859 congressmen took guns to work and secession looked closer than ever


Sectional tension in 1859

After math or browns raid meant tension was high. Slave revolts were expected, patrols, local vigilante and lynchings increased as a result.
When congress met in December 1859 both houses were divided.
The south believed the north had deserted the principles of the union by being urbanised, industrialised and having immigrants.
In contrast the south remained agricultural. Southerners believed most northerners held abolitionist views and the prospect of republican victory filled them with rage. The south believed the north treated them as inferior


Democrat convention 1860

Held in April 1860 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Douglas got heckled and the northern delegates blocked a proposal which would have pledged the party to protect the rights of slave owners.
50 delegates from the lower south walked out. The party was unable to form a consensus on policy or a candidate and after 57 ballots hey agreed to meet at Baltimore in June.
When the southern delegates who walked out returned their seats were replaced by northern delegates. This caused another mass southern walk out and Douglas easily won the nomination.
Southerners formed the southern democrats and elected Breckinridge as their leader. This was supported by Cass, Pierce and Buchanan.


Republican convention

Held in Chicago, Illinois. Aim was to increase their appeal and they widened their platform to higher tariffs, free 160 acre homesteads for western settlers, a northern railroad, opposed slavery expansion and distances themselves from Brown.
Leadership was between Seward (governor of New York for 4 years, senator for 12 but held radical views) and Lincoln (from battleground state Illinois, lack of experience and a reputation of honest Abe).
First ballot Seward won 173 votes but didn’t get the required 223 votes. Lincoln got 102 votes.
Third ballot Lincoln won the nomination with the help of campaign managers making deals to gain votes.


Constitutional unionist party

New party who challenged for presidency. Composed mainly of ex-Whigs.
Their strength laid in the upper south and they nominated John Bell of Tennessee.
Their platform was the shortest in American history: they wanted to remove the slavery question from the political arena.


1860 election results

81% of the electorate voted.
Bell won 539,000 votes and 39% of the southern vote and 5% of the free vote - he won 3 states.
Breckinridge won 843,000 votes, 45% of southern vote and 5% of free state vote - He won 11/15 slavery states.
Douglas won 1,383,000 votes but only 2 states.
Lincoln won 1,866,000 votes, 54% of free states and no southern votes. He won 40% of total vote and held a majority of 180 electoral college votes to 123.
Douglas would have won the election if he won the states of Illinois, Indiana and California.
Lincoln still would have won even if the entire south voted for Breckinridge.
North voted for Lincoln as it was a vote against slave power conspiracy and they approved economic policies and didn’t want slavery established immediately


Response to the 1860 election

Lincoln’s win was the event fire eaters were waiting for, it have them an excuse to leave the union.
However the south should not have succeeded as Lincoln posed no threat to slavery, he did not control congress or the Supreme Court and it would mean an end to the fugitive slave act.
But in the south’s opinion a northern anti slavery party with no southern support had captured the presidency.
The south feared expansion ending would be the end to slavery. For generations the south saw themselves as innocents in a battle against the aggressive north and they felt they were denied a fair share of western territories and they were unfairly taxed through of tariffs to benefit northern industry.
Southern honor demanded they succeed


Problems for secessionists

There was still much unionist sympathy in the south. Southerners were loyal to their state and not the south. In reality non slaveholding farmers represented the largest single block in the electorate.
Immediate secessionists knew if they forced the issue secession might never happen (like the nullification crisis) but if they waited too long secession might never happen (like the Nashville convention).


First wave of secession

10 December 1860 - South Carolina called for elections to a special convention on -7 December to decide on the issue of secession. This created a chain reaction - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas all did the same.
20 December 1860 South Carolina voted for secession 169-0
9 January 1861 Mississippi voted 85 to 15 for secession. 12,000 independent candidates, 12,218 cooperationists and 16,000 immediate secessionists
10 January 1861 - Florida votes for secession 62-7
11 January 1861 - Alabama votes for secession 61 to 39
19 January 1861 - Georgia votes for secession 208 to 89
26 January 1861 - Louisiana votes for secession 113 to 17


Response to the first wave of secession

The north believes the south were bluffing or secession was forced by a small majority.
North thought the south would join the union again.
Whereas the south believed the north would not fight to preserve the union.
The border states hoped a compromise would be reached and that the south returned to the union.
These states supported slavery but were not committed to secession


Confederate government

4 February 1861, 50 delegates from the seceded states met at Montgomery to launch a confederate government.
Most delegates were lawyers or planters. 49 of the 50 owned slavers and 21 owned at least 20 slaves. Nearly 50% of the delegates were cooperationists and fire eaters were under represented.
Confederacy were desperate to gain support of the upper south.
By March 1861 all 7 states ratified a new constitution, similar to the union but more protection of slavery.
Jefferson Davis elected as provisional president of the confederacy on 9 February 1861. He was from Mississippi and fought to keep the union together.
Alexander Stephens Vice President from Georgia was anti secessionist.
The rest of the cabinet made up of men from confederate states. Davis asked the union to leave the confederacy alone.


Border states and secession

The confederacy only had 10% of the us population and 5% of the industrial capacity.
The congress quickly passed financial legislation, adopted stars and bars as national flag and set about raising an army.
January 1861 state legislation of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia called for elections to decide on secession.
However in Virginia only 32 of 152 members were immediate secessionists and Tennessee and North Carolina opposed the conventions being held.
Arkansas votes for a convention but most delegates voted against secession.
This was due to the states having less stake in slavery. Less than 30% of population was black and in Maryland most slaves were free.
However these states did not trust Lincoln and they would put the south ahead of the union.


Buchanan’s last mistake

Lincoln did not take over presidency until March 1861.
Buchanan blamed republicans for secession and he did not want to provoke war.
He met the south take all the federal institutions across the south, including fort Pickens and fort Sumter


Attempts at solving secession

In December congress met and the senate committee of 13 led by John Crittenden recommended the Missouri compromise line be extended to the Pacific giving slavery a chance of expansion, a constitutional agreement not to interfere with slavery where it exists and not to abolish slavery in DC.
However republicans rejected this.
February 1861 peace convention met in Washington at request of Virginia. 133 Delaware’s attended but nobody from the confederacy attended. The convention came up with similar proposals to Crittenden and was ignored by congress.
Lincoln was willing to compromise but not on the expansion of slavery


Lincoln’s cabinet

He had a cabinet made up of different people. Lincoln did not know most of his cabinet before 1861.
Secretary of State - Seward
Secretary of treasury - Chase
Secretary of navy - Welles
Secretary of the interior - Smith
Secretary of war - Cameron
Attorney general - Bates
Postmaster general - Blair


Lincoln’s mistakes

He left Springfield in February 1861 and did not go straight to Washington. He stopped and made speeches, but he wasn’t allowed to say much leaving people disappointed in what they heard. When he reached Baltimore he heard an assassination plot and slipped to Washington. This made people question the courage and firmness of Lincoln.
He became president on 4 march 1861. His speech was conciliatory but firm and he said he would not interfere with slavery and in his view secession was illegal.


Fort Sumter

Over the winter the confederacy took over forts in the south apart from Pickens and Sumter.
For Sumter let by major Anderson who had southern sympathies but he was determined to stay in the union. Troops at the fort were less than 100.
In January 1861 Buchanan sent a ship of supplies for Anderson but the south opened fire on the ship and the ship retreated.
On the 15th March 1861 Lincoln put off making a decision. Lincoln called a second cabinet meeting following reports from Scott that both forts should be abandoned. But northern newspapers demanded Sumter should be held and most of cabinet favoured re-supplying Sumter and protecting Pickens.
Lincoln decided to sent troops to re-provision not to reinforce both forts. Seward wanted Lincoln to give power to him, evacuate Sumter and provoke a war against another country, to try and unite the union again.
4 April 1861 Lincoln informed Anderson and the governor of South Carolina that he would sent a 500 men naval force to re-supply Sumter. These left on 9th April.
On 9 April davis’ cabinet met and agreed to defend their southern honour. The order was to take Sumter before it was resupplied. Anderson refused to surrender and negotiations began to continue with no success.
On April 12 1861 the first shots of the civil war occurred at fort Sumter. For the next 33 hours 5,000 shots were fired but nobody died. 13 April Anderson surrendered and his troops returned to Washington.
The attack on Sumter electrified the north. On New York 250,000 people turned out for a union rally. Lincoln issued a call to arms but few expected a long conflict.
Lincoln asked for 75,000 men for 90 days, whilst Davis asked for 100,000.
Both the north and the south were inundated with volunteers. At this point Lincoln called it a rebellion and not a war.


Second wave of secession after fort Sumter

Events at fort Sumter caused a second wave of secession. Virginia seceded, this was crucial as its industrial capacity was as great as the original seven states combined.
Richmond became the capital.
West Virginia seceded from Virginia and stayed part of the union.
In May North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee seceded.
However Delaware, Maryland, Missouri and Kentucky did not secede