Imagine yourself as a slaveÖ you just wake up on the hard dirt floor to see your master standing in the doorway with a leather whip clutched in his hand. He tells you to get up this instant, and if you donít, then youíll get whipped across your already bleeding back. So, you stand up and walk out the door into the cotton fields. You work long hours in the blazing sun, yet barely get any food. If you decide to take a break, youíll get whipped. If you try to run away, when he catches you, youíll be killed. You work until late night and then you sleep for a couple of hours. In the morning you wake up and suffer the same exact thing again, again, and again for your whole miserable life. This is what it would be like to be a slave in the south.
The Three Fifths Compromise
The U.S. Constitution is a set of laws that every person in the United States has to follow. The men who wrote the U.S. Constitution disagreed whether slavery should be legal or not in United States. Some people strongly believed that slavery was a crime, while others couldnít imagine life without having slaves to work in their cotton fields. After a very difficult decision, they decided that it would be best to leave it to each state to decide if they wanted slaves.
The north and the south continued to argue about how to count the slaves when deciding the numbers of Representatives each state should have in Congress. The southern states refused to sign the United States Constitution because they wanted the slaves to be counted for the purpose of voting. The only way to get the southern states to sign the Constitution was to discuss it between the north and the south. Northern people were concerned about the southern people counting slaves as one person because then they would have a lot more Representatives than the north. Then if the south had more Representatives than the north, when they voted, the south would always win the votes. The north and south both decided that they would count the slaves as three fifths of a person. After counting the people in the north and the south (including slaves who counted as three fifths of a person), the north had more Representatives than the south. This was one of the many compromises over slavery between the south and the north.
The Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 happened ten years before the Civil War started. TheCompromise of 1850 was a series of acts to help determine if the territory being conquered in the Mexican War should have slaves or not. The Compromise of 1850 helped delay the Civil War about ten years. To please the free states, California would enter the Union as a free state. The compromise gave Texas $10 million to abandon its territory claims, which would later become New Mexico. To please the North, the compromise announced they would make the District of Columbia stop the slave trade. To please the South, they decided that there would be stricter laws to return any runaway slaves back to their owners. The Abolitionists rescued or tried to rescue slaves on the loose in the North to keep their owners from recovering them. These rescues and recovering slaves caused a lot of riots.
The Dred Scott Decision
The Dred Scott Decision was yet another argument between the north and the south. Dred Scott was a slave that got moved by his owner to a free state. After being moved to a free state, he thought he should be free, just like his owner, so Dred sued him to get his freedom he thought he deserved. Dred Scott lost his case in the regular and federal courts. He then brought his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dred lost almost all of the trials. The Supreme Court Justice, Roger B. Taney, who ruled Dredís case, was a southerner and a slave owner in Maryland. Since Taney lived in a slave state, he probably didnít want Dred to get his freedom. After all of these trials for Dredís freedom, he still didnít gain his freedom and wasted ten years of his life in court.
These compromises kept the United States together until the south decided to split apart from the north. The south did this because they wanted slavery and the north didnít.
Stephanie, Matt, Melissa, Jon, Becca, and Ryan. Free at Last: The Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.</J0112391/> Last Visited: January 17, 2001.
"Civil War." The World Book Encyclopedia, 2001.