The causes of the break up of the Union: the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the decision of the Dred Scott case and of course, slavery

Essay by volleyballa2328 January 2005

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The American Civil War was the bloodiest American War, which placed brother against brother and tested the will of the Union. There were many causes to the breakup of the Union in 1860 to1861, but there are three that stood out the most. Many people believe that the Civil War was a war fought solely over slavery, but the reality was it was fought on several fronts. The three main causes were: the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the decision of the Dred Scott case, and the South's cultural influenced fanaticism on slavery.

In 1854 Kansas territory wanted become a state. The only question left to be decided was whether it would be a slave state or a free state. Stephen Arnold Douglas, the Democratic Senator of Illinois, strongly believed that the people of the territories should decide for themselves whether they wanted slavery. He sponsored the Kansas Nebraska bill and said that Kansas should be split into two states Kansas and Nebraska and that the question of slavery would be left to the vote of the settlers.

He called this principle popular sovereignty. The debate over the question of slavery in the territories became more of a problem than expected. Proslavery and antislavery groups fought many wars, each side wanting to gain control of Kansas so they could have more power in Congress. More power would mean more votes for or against slavery. The bill also had its flaws. The law said that the people of Kansas were free to decide on slavery but the territories were not sovereign political units so they were not entirely free. This also caused controversy between the two sections. The wars were known as "Bloody Kansas." Neither side knew it, but with each day of fighting, they were getting a step...