The political crisis of the 1850’s is one of the most underrated influential decades in US history. Many people talk about the 1920’s and the 1940’s and 50’s; however, much of that history ─ especially of that between the late 1940’s and the late 1960’s ─ was predicated upon by the crisis of the 1850’s. To understand its importance, one must understand its composition, its origin, and its effect. The crisis of the 1850’s, predicated upon the furious debates of slavery in new western territories and consisting over debates of states’ rights versus federal power, had lasting effects directly concerning the Civil War and on the nation especially in relation to the century long ideological battle over race in America.
The causes of the crisis of the 1850’s were the tense situation over the expansion of slavery to new territories and the placement of the Transcontinental Railroad. The problems in the 1850’s came with the discovery of gold in the west and a mass exodus that caused these territories to apply for statehood as wither a free or slave state which would disrupt the balance of states. It contorted the views of people across the nation that believed in Manifest Destiny but were split over the issue of slavery. The Omnibus Bill by Clay could not pass because of great disagreements over things such as the strictness of Fugitive Slave Laws as well as California’s acceptance as a free state. Development of a new fragment, more radical but similar to the Whigs with more presence by abolitionist representatives and more hardnosed Southern Democrats known as “fire eaters” made compromise on two diametrically opposed ideas on slavery impossible. The powder keg of the 1850’s could have been avoided if compromise over issues ...
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...ition and place of blacks, thus the ideological battle of race in America that was fought and largely dominated by the South for almost a century. Without the crisis of the 1850’s and what was the central debate at the time. Neither the Civil War, fourteenth through fifteenth amendment, nor the ideological battle over rave would have happened when they did.
This decade, surrounded by great periods in US history such as the Gold Rush and the Civil War, was in direct correlation with everything around it, being greatly influenced by the Gold Rush and directly influencing the Civil War as well as making ripples throughout history. Understanding influential periods before the crisis of the crisis of the 1850’s, the substance of the discussion, and the ominous effects of the 1850’s crisis, it is difficult to deny the importance of that decade in American history.
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