"A house divided against itself cannot stand" Explain the significance of this quote stated by Abraham Lincoln and how it relates to to sectionalism of its time.

Essay by anthonyypimpszzHigh School, 11th grade January 2010

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Throughout the history of the United States there have been ups and downs, problems and solutions and separations and reunions. As sectionalism became a common trend in 19th century America, problems between certain groups in the union began to rise. As these divisions grew, it was obvious that inevitable hostilities would threaten the structure of the union. When the United States fell into sectional quarrels, the base of the union began to crumble, thus proving the quote “a house divided against itself cannot stand” correct.

One of the most significant issues that caused great controversy between the sections of the United States was the issue of slavery. Being politically, economically and socially sound from the birth of the United States, slavery was now questioned by some and supported by others. From the extreme abolitionists in the north to the violent slave owners of the south, slavery was used as an underlying reason that eventually sparked the civil war.

As the United States began to grow, the question of weather or not a newly admitted state should become a slave or free state was frequently asked. As the southern state of Missouri applied for statehood, the northern states were feurious while the southern states were well for it. Due to the balance of eleven slave states to eleven free states before Missouri, Missouri would surly ruin the equality. To avoid a fight and to calm down the sectional quarrels, Henry Clay came up with the Missouri compromise. Admitting Maine (northern state) as a free state and Missouri as a slave state, this compromise drew a line at the 36’ 30 making all states below the line slave and all that are above free. This band-aid solution calmed down the tensions and avoided the break down of the union.

As time went on, in antebellum America, manifest destiny was the new American trend. Claiming that it was the white mans divine duty to spread democracy to the uncivilized savages of the west, Americans claimed all the land of North America to be theirs. Adding over a million square miles to the United States, manifest destiny brought land along with the conflict of weather or not the new land would be slave or free. Due to the failure of the Missouri compromise, Henry Clay brought about the compromise of 1850. This compromise admitted California as a free state, and Nebraska and Kansas to be decided by popular sovereignty. To avoid conflicts with the southern slave states, this compromise also added a tougher law on run-away slaves called the fugitive slave act. Proven to be another band-aid solution, this compromise was just set as a cover up to avoid a stronger sectional division that would threaten the union.

The compromise of 1850 not only served as a short-term solution but started yet another clash between the sections of the United States. Because Kansas and Nebraska’s’ slavery status was to be decided by popular sovereignty, passionate abolitionists from the north and violent slave owners from the south flocked to these stats to vote for their desirable slavery status. Lead to bloodshed, angry abolitionist and violent slave owners fought vigorously and intensified the sectional tensions. Bleeding Kansas, as it was referred to, was an inevitable event. The constant tensions were caused by the ever so different views of the sectionalists in the United States, eventually leading to catastropheAs sectionalism in the United States began to grow, the stage for the American civil war was set. Due to the failures of the compromises, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the secession of the southern states officially divided the union making it fall along the way.

Kennedy, David M. American pageant a history of the Republic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. Print.