Coverture

  • Took place from the 17th to 19th centuries in England and America. It was an English (and French) and then American legal concept which stated that a woman loses her legal identity when she marries. She becomes a part of her husbandís household. She cannot make a contract, vote, serve on a jury, be sued, or any other sort of legal action. When a woman purchased an item on credit, this was done under her husband's name. Any money or property she might have becomes her husbandís. The only scenario in which a woman could own land was if widowed. This is historically significant because it determined womenís place and role in society, set up the legal constraints upon women.

Republican Motherhood

  • Only those who vote are virtuous, voting with the best interest of the community in mind. Morality and virtue were seen to be taught by the mothers. Therefore, mothers make good voters. Virtuous mothers equaled to virtuous citizens. Women needed to understand the concepts of liberty and government in order to raise good voters and citizens. This both limited and created options. It limited the duties that women had at home. The opportunities created were that women were now open to speaking in public, provided that they were speaking about the home. If they were talking about the role of women in the domestic sphere then they could speak in public. Women also spoke about temperance- limiting alcohol consumption- because this affected the domestic sphere. This was a significant change in the way women were viewed.

Wilmot Proviso

  • The Mexican-American War created a division in the country because new land became available. All of the new land opens up debates about slavery. In 1846 David Wilmot created an add-on to the spending law which would keep slavery out of all territories taken from Mexico. Southerners kill this bill because they want this new land in present day Texas for slavery. Northerns continue to attempt to get this proviso passed. This is historically significant because it led to the creation of the Free Soil Party.

Free Soil Party

  • Formed out of the continued failure of the Wilmot Proviso. They were dedicated to keeping slavery out of the territories, not to abolishing slavery. The Constitution did not provide room for Congress to end slavery, but they can keep it from spreading to the territories. They wanted to preserve western land for free white men so they could compete equally. Slave owners have a large amount of labor and can produce more. The free soilers wanted a fair economy of competition between free white men. They were afraid Southerners would dominate the economy with slaves, which would decrease the amount of jobs available to free, white men. This was a northern party only, made up of people from both the Whig and Democratic parties. It gained little support early on and changed to the Republican party in 1854. Eventually, the candidate of the Free Soil Party won the election of 1860. This is historically significant because it showed the sectional divide in the nation, and the Free Soil Party victory in 1860 led to Southern secession.

Compromise of 1850

  • This was all about what could be given to the North and the South in order to bring California into the Union. This agreement fell apart right away. The agreement was as follows:
    • California would join the Union as a free state. In the California constitution both slavery and African Americans were outlawed. California was only meant for free, white men.
    • Utah and New Mexico territories were formed out of Mexico. These territories could choose whether they wanted to allow slavery. Both of these territories were primarily desert, which meant the land was not good for farming.
    • The Fugitive Slave Law was put into place. The South liked this law. This meant that when slave ran away to the North they could be sent back to the South to their previous owners. Before it was difficult for slave owners to get their slaves back. There would not be a trial for this process to take place. Instead there was a group of commissioners who presided over these cases. If they made the decision that someone was an escaped slave they received $10 compensation. If they decided someone was free they received $5 compensation.
    • Texas gets its boarders. $10 million is paid to Texas for a specific piece of land which became part of another state.
    • The slave trade is outlawed in Washington DC. Since it is a dependent district of the federal government and not a state congress can make decisions about slavery there, although they cannot do so for the rest of the U.S. People could have slaves in DC, but slaves could not be purchased/sold there.

Dred Scott

  • He was an enslaved person owned by an U.S. Army doctor who lived in Missouri. His owner traveled all over the country and back to Missouri and took Scott with him on his travels. Some of the territories traveled were free (Illinois and Wisconsin). In 1847, Scott, with the help of anti-slavery advocates, sued claiming that once his owner crossed into free territory Scott should have been freed. The first time he sued he lost. Scott appealed and received a second trial in St. Louis, Missouri. The courts decided in his favor. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1857, there is a 7 to 2 ruling against Scott. Chief Justice Roger Taney and the court ruled that he wasnít free and that congress had no legal right to keep slavery out of the northwest territories. He also said that slaves are property, and Scott's case should never have been heard in the lower courts in the first place because Scott was not a citizen with rights. This means that Scott is covered under the 5th Amendment (protection of private property) and cannot be unlawfully seized. This was a rare experience because the Supreme Court ruled a decision by Congress to be unconstitutional. This is historically significant because the Court decision is a massive one for African Americans, suggesting that they have no right to citizenship. Also indicates to the North that the South wants slavery everywhere (makes them worried). One of the factors leading to the election of 1860 and the Civil War.

Election of 1860

  • There was very little middle ground between the North and South. The people in the South were concerned with having a president who was against slavery, a Free Soiler, because this might affect the future slavery. There had never been a Free Soiler in the presidency. The candidates on the ballot: William Sewart (Republican); Shanon Chase (Republican); Douglas Lonce (Northern Democrat); Breckenridge (Southern Democrat); John Bell (Whigs); and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln did not believe that the country could exist with a divide for/against slavery. In November 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He won 180 electoral college votes, 40% of the popular vote, including most of the North. White southerners were terrified of Lincoln's election because they were afraid their slaves would rise up against them. Abolitionists might get literature to slaves. The South feels insulted by the rest of the nation because Lincoln was not a candidate on their ballot. Significance: Showed a divide between the North and South democrats. Parties are now sectional. Significance 2: While Lincoln is president elect the southern states begin to secede from the Union, beginning with South Carolina. The biggest reason is they do not think Lincoln will allow slavery to continue. By April 1861 seven states have left the Union and formed the Confederacy.

Emancipation Proclamation

  • In September 1862, after the Union victory at Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln declared that effective January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederacy would be free. This did NOT include those enslaved people who were in states that were still part of the Union. They would still remain enslaved. The Confederacy did not acknowledge President Lincoln as their president since seceding from the Union. This was not really a message to slaveowners in the South, but to those enslaved telling them the government is freeing them. The slaves do hear about this proclamation and they will act. This is historically significant because the focus of the war shifted from bringing the confederacy back into the Union to ending slavery. This also led to the Union accepting black soldiers as members of the army who fight in the war. 186,000 blacks would fight before the war was out. They made a massive difference because so many men were needed for this war. They will be in their own units, which will be made up of free blacks from the Union and escaped slaves from the Confederacy.