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Themid 1800s are significant to the history of the United States owingto the four major events, which occurred in 1857 and 1861. In thiscase, seven lower southern states were forced to secede from theunion due to events such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the DredScott Decision, John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and the Lincolnelection in 1860. The events have shaped the country’s political,social-cultural, economic, and environmental outcome to date(Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 436).The paper takes the initiative to review two specific events, whichare the (Lincoln’s election in 1860), and (John Browns raid onHarpers Ferry). The review of the mentioned events will ensure acomprehensive understanding of the significance of the events to thesecession of the seven southern states from the union.
JohnBrown Raid on Harper’s Ferry
InOctober 1859, John Brown a politician and advocate for slaveabolition rallied a group of slaves with the intention of raidingHarpers Ferry. Brown alongside an army of only 18 men stormed HarpersFerry in the state of Virginia, which at the time was a slave state.The main aim of the raid was to provide arms and ammunition for theslaves in the area after seizing the existing arms from the FederalArmory in the town. At the time, the seven states in the southernpart of the United States were staunch supporters of slavery makingit difficult for abolitionists to penetrate the city (Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 435).Ideally, Brown did not have an elaborate plan on how to navigate hisattack on Harpers Island. To add on, Browns idea to rally slaves inthe region as he moved to the Appalachian Mountains to fight fortheir freedom was ineffective given that he did not provide the rightattack and defense against the federal army in Virginia. Notably, theraid did not have much impact on weakening the army. However, Brownsmove gets credit for worsening the existing divide between theSouthern States and the Northern States. Moreover, he garnered thesupport of the slaves to demand for their right to freedom (Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 433).
Lincoln’sElection in 1860
FollowingJohn Brown’s invasion of Harpers Ferry, the southern states werefurious with the abolitionist’s intentions to free slaves in theregion. Whereas, Brown’s plot to disarm the Federal Armory andArsenal was not successful, he managed to bring to light the negativeperceptions of slave trade and slavery in the entire country. Forexample, the raid got the attention of the press such as thenewspapers and magazines, which covered the story making the southernstates, appear weak in the eyes of the public. In addition,republicans from the northern states suffered a defeat owing to theDred Scott ruling which declared free soil unconstitutional. As such,democrats from the northern states supported the freeing of theslaves because they had the intention to move to industrialism(Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 439).
Atthe time, Lincoln had made his intentions of slavery clear owing tohis 1858 speech “A house divided” which, encouraged members toeither support or denounce slavery. Lincoln made his speech rightafter his nomination as the republican presidential representative.Before Lincoln’s election, the political state of the United Stateswas uncertain with many citizens feeling hopeless about the future ofthe country. Lincoln argued that the West should be free of slaverypractices owing to the advancement of modern culture, which deemedslavery repugnant to human beings (Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 434).After his election, more states were of the view that slavery was notgood for the image of the United States, which was struggling tobuild relationships in both the national and global platform. Hence,the election of Lincoln into office gave the newly elected presidentpower to vote against slavery. Though he lost support from thesouthern states, his move placed pressure on the seven major statesin the region to secede from the union. The first state to secede wasSouth Carolina, which was a major stronghold for the union. Next,states such as Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia followedsuit making the union weaker than before. The last states to leavethe union were Louisiana and Texas making the member states dissolvethe union entirely and abolish slavery (Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 437).
Afterthe analysis of the two events, the paper recognizes the essentialityof both Brown and Lincoln in the abolition of slavery. Brown’s raidon the Harpers Ferry was important in that it created a dividebetween the southern and the northern states making people rethinktheir views and perceptions of slavery. The raid of the Harpers Ferrywas important to the southern secession because it placed pressure onstates like South Carolina and Mississippi, which were slowlygravitating towards becoming Free states. On the other hand,Lincoln’s election was important to southern secession because thepresident was not a staunch supporter or slavery. In addition, hisview for the future of the United States did not involve slavery as ameans of economic development (Henretta,Hinderaker, Edwards, and Self 440).
Withthat said, the election of the President in 1960 is believed to bemore important because he used his power to completely abolishslavery and end the union of the seven states.
Henretta,James A, Eric Hinderaker, Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self.(2014) America`sHistory.Boston: Bedford/St. Martins,Print.