Civil War Dbq

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During the mid-nineteenth century, the controversy over the morality of slavery and the rights of African Americans overshadowed America’s efforts of building a united nation. In fact, this controversy tore America apart. Abraham Lincoln was not only one of the leading anti-slavery advocates, but he also eventually became president during this tumultuous era. Many events occurred prior to the start of the Civil War that shaped Lincoln’s thinking and his approach to abolishing slavery. These events include the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott decision of 1857, and Lincoln’s senate race against Stephen A. Douglas. These events shaped Lincoln’s thoughts by leading him to alter his pre-existing views on slavery and black freedom; …show more content…

One of the first major events during Lincoln’s political career was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which was passed through Congress by Stephen A. Douglas. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, was a bill that gave Kansas and Nebraska the right to decide on their own, by popular vote, whether or not slavery would be instituted in the state. Interestingly, Lincoln’s response to Douglas’ decision was not immediate. He remained silent for a while before delivering many speeches, the longest being the Peoria Speech. In all of his speeches, Lincoln argued that Douglas’ decision did not correlate with the intention of the founding fathers, who wanted the expansion of slavery to be prohibited and hoped that slavery will …show more content…

In addition, this decision revealed that African-Americans were considered to be property rather than citizens. In sum, Dred Scott, a slave of Dr. John Emerson of Illinois, a state in which slavery is prohibited, sued his master’s widow for not granting him his freedom in a free state. The Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott was not entitled to his freedom and must remain a slave. Lincoln described the Dred Scott Decision as a “burlesque upon judicial decisions”. Significantly, this decision displays the false interpretation of the Declaration of Independence(DOI) and the clear opposition Congress has to the idea that equality also applied to blacks. Instead of Lincoln simply stating his opinion on the Dred Scott Decision, Foner states that “for the first time, he elaborated on what he meant” by his statement on equality. This is seen in his speech after the Dred Scott Decision when Lincoln states that he is aware that in the time they are in, blacks will never have all the same rights as whites. Of the Declaration of Independence’s authors, Lincoln stated, “they defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal - equal in ‘certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’”. Here, Lincoln makes it clear that he is aware that in the time

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