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Flashcards in US History Midterm, JMar Deck (24):

Mason-Dixon Line

A surveyor’s mark that had established the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania in colonial times. By the 1830s, the boundary divided the free North and the slave South.


Cotton kingdom

Term for the South that reflected the dominance of cotton in the southern economy. Cotton was particularly important in the tier of states from South Carolina west to Texas. Cotton cultivation was the key factor in the growth of slavery.


Slave codes

Laws enacted in southern states in the 1820s and 1830s that required the total submission of slaves. Attacks by antislavery activists and by slaves convinced southern legislators that they had to do everything in their power to strengthen the institution.



Interracial sex. Proslavery spokesmen played on the fears of whites when they suggested that giving blacks equal rights would lead to miscegenation. In reality, slavery led to considerable
sexual abuse of black women by their white masters.



A substantial landowner who tilled his estate with twenty or more slaves. Planters dominated the social and political world of the South. Their values and ideology influenced the values of all southern whites.



Large farm worked by twenty or more slaves. Although small farms were more numerous, plantations produced more than 75 percent of the South’s export crops.



The theory of slavery that emphasized reciprocal duties and obligations between masters and their slaves, with slaves providing labor and obedience and masters providing basic care and direction. Whites employed the concept of paternalism to deny that the slave system was brutal and exploitative.



The South’s romantic ideal of male-female relationships. Chivalry’s underlying assumptions about the weakness of white women and the protective authority of men resembled the paternalistic defense of slavery.



Farmers who owned and worked on their own small plots of land. Yeomen living within the plantation belt were more dependent on planters than were yeomen in the upcountry, where
small farmers dominated.


Plantation belt

Flatlands that spread from South Carolina to east Texas and were dominated by large plantations.



The hills and mountains of the South whose higher elevation, colder climate, rugged terrain, and poor transportation made the region less hospitable than the flatlands to slavery and large plantations.


Free black

An African American who was not enslaved. Southern whites worried about the increasing numbers of free blacks. In the 1820s and 1830s, state legislatures stemmed the growth of the free black population and shrank the liberty of free blacks.


Wilmot proviso

Proposal put forward by Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania in August 1846 to ban slavery in territory acquired from the Mexican-American War. The proviso enjoyed widespread support in the North, but Southerners saw it as an attack on their interests.


Free labor

Term referring to work conducted free from constraint and according to the laborer’s own inclinations and will. The ideal of free labor lay at the heart of the North’s argument that slavery should not be extended into the western territories.


Popular sovereignty

The idea that government is subject to the will of the people. Applied to the territories, popular sovereignty meant that the residents of a territory should determine, through their legislatures, whether to allow slavery.


Compromise of 1850

Laws passed in 1850 meant to resolve the dispute over the spread of slavery in the territories. Key elements included the admission of California as a free state and the Fugitive Slave Act. The Compromise soon unraveled.


Uncle Tom's Cabin

Enormously popular antislavery novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe and published in 1852. It helped to solidify northern sentiment against slavery and to confirm white Southerners’ sense that no sympathy remained for them in the free states.


Fugitive slave act

A law included in the Compromise of 1850 to help attract southern support for the legislative package. Its strict provisions for capturing runaway slaves provoked outrage in the North and intensified antislavery sentiment in the region.


Kansas-Nebraska act

1854 law that divided Indian territory into Kansas and Nebraska, repealed the Missouri Compromise, and left the new territories to decide the issue of slavery on the basis of popular sovereignty. The law led to bloody fighting in Kansas.


Republican Party

Antislavery party formed in 1854 following passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Republicans attempted to unite all those who opposed the extension of slavery into any territory of the United States.


"Bleeding Kansas"

Term for the bloody struggle between proslavery and antislavery factions in Kansas following its organization in the fall of 1854. Corrupt election tactics led to a proslavery victory, but free-soil Kansas established a rival territorial government, and violence quickly ensued.


Dred Scott decision

1857 Supreme Court decision that ruled the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. The Court ruled against slave Dred Scott, who claimed travels with his master into free states made him and his family free. The decision also denied the federal government the right to exclude slavery in the territories and declared that African Americans
were not citizens.


Lincoln-Douglas debates

Series of debates on the issue of slavery and freedom between Democrat Stephen Douglas and Republican Abraham Lincoln, held as part of the 1858 Illinois senatorial race. Douglas won the election, but the debates helped catapult Lincoln to national attention.


Confederate states of America

Government formed by Lower South states on February 7, 1861, following their secession from the Union. Secessionists argued that the election of a Republican to the presidency imperiled slavery and the South no longer had political protection within the Union.