By the year 1860, many white Americans were embarrassed by slavery. In the south of The United States white plantation owners needed black slaves to work on their fields because there werenít enough white people to work on their fields. In the fields, plantation owners grew sugar, rice, cotton, and other plants. Without slaves the south thought their economy would be ruined. On the north side of The United States, many people disagreed about slavery.
Northerners and southerners argued about slavery, making both sides very angry. The Representatives in the United States Congress told the rest of the nation to accept the situation and allow slavery in half of the country. Before the Civil War, slavery was becoming a very bad and political problem and that would not go away.
While the white men argued, the black slaves in the south were treated terribly. They were whipped if they refused to work, they were given poor clothing, and they didnít get paid anything. The slaves slept in small cabins. About 20 slaves slept in each cabin all stacked on top of each other.
Every morning the slaves woke up early and got to work. During the day, the slaves were only fed once and when they were fed they were given hardly any food. Little kids were separated from their families and sold to different owners to work. The kids were given no education and were treated just as bad as their elders. The slavesí owners could beat them up at any time they wanted. Also the slaves and their families could be sold at any time another owner wanted to buy the slave and the previous owner agreed.
A Nation Dividing
Before The United States was a nation, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, who were British surveyors, drew the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. They called the border the Mason-Dixon Line, named after the surveyors that drew the line. On the north side of the line was free land and on the south was slavery.
Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were just trying to draw a border, but later it was going to become the boundary of two new countries, The Confederate States of America and The United States of America. The Confederate States was south and The United States was north of the Mason-Dixon Line. When the thirteen colonies first united to form a new country, all the states tried to work together. While America began to grow, tensions started and fights began.
Compromises such as the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott decision, and other compromises made by leaders in Congress held the United States together for many years. After time the north and south found it more difficult to solve their differences, and when the south threatened to form another country, Americaís survival was at risk.
The Sectional Conflict
In the 1820ís anybody in the south was able to notice the important differences between the north and the south. The differences led to the dividing of the United States. In the largest city in America, New York City, (population 124,000) docks were full of goods from all over the world and they were also loaded with ships full of European Immigrants who were looking for a fresh start in The United States. The Northern city streets were lined with banks and shops, which were soon going to be put together by train tracks and full of factories. Northerners were proud of their growing economy.
New Orleans, Louisiana was the fifth-largest city in America and was the only large city in the south (population 27,000). It had docks crowded with sugar, cotton, and slaves. These were symbols of the large farms in the south where planters used slaves to work on their land. The south was a growing region also, but plantation agriculture was the way the south made most of its money. Even though slave households were not the majority, the region became known as the "slave south" which means that the south needed slaves to make money.
Stankak, John. Civil War. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc, 2000.
Clinton, Catherine. Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Scholastic, 1999.