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Chapter 7: The Antebellum Period
Objectives: SS8H6 & SS8E1
SS8H6: The student will analyze the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Georgia.
a. Explain the importance of key events and issues that led to the Civil War including slavery, states
rights, nullification, Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, and the Georgia Platform,
Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott case, election of 1860, the debate over secession in Georgia and
the role of Alexander Stephens.
SS8E1: The student will give examples of the kinds of goods and services produced in Georgia in
different historical periods.
1. What was manifest destiny? The belief that it was the will of God that the
United States expand its borders to the Pacific Coast
2. Name the three areas of our country acquired during the antebellum period.
Texas, Oregon, and California
3. What war resulted in the United States gaining control of Texas? The MexicanAmerican War
4. What key event led to California’s rapid population increase? Gold Rush of 1849
Events leading to the Civil War
5. Explain how each of the key events and issues listed below helped lead to the
Civil War:
a. Slavery – The North wanted to abolish slavery, but the South felt their
economy required slavery to exist because they needed to have a
source of cheap labor to work the fields and produce crops
b. States’ rights – (the belief that the state’s interests should take
precedence over the interest of national government) The North
believed that in order for the Union to work best together, political
decisions should be made that would benefit the entire country. They
believed that all states should abide by the laws made by the federal
government. The South thought states had the right to govern
themselves and should be able to decide what is best for their needs or
situation. They did not believe northern politicians could have any
idea what is best for a southern state.
c. Nullification – (the belief that a state should have the authority to nullify
any federal law they thought was unconstitutional) This debate arose
from a series of tariffs placed on importing foreign-made goods. The
South was very dependent on foreign goods because they did not have
factories to make the goods. The North was able to produce many of
their own goods, so these tariffs primarily penalized the southern
states. Many in the South favored nullifying these types of decisions.
d. Missouri Compromise – In 1819, the United States had 22 states, 11
were slave states, and 11 were free states. This meant the senate had
an equal amount of senators from slave states and free states. The
House had more representatives from free states than from slave
states. When Missouri applied for statehood in 1819, it applied as a
slave state. This led to the Missouri Compromise in 1820 which stated
that Maine would enter the union as a free state, and Missouri as a
slave state (to keep the balance equal). From that point forward
slavery would be prohibited north of 36◦ 20’ latitude ( the southern
border of Missouri.
e. Compromise of 1850 & the Georgia Platform – Due to the growth of
California after the discovery of gold there, California was ready to
ask for statehood. (A state could ask for statehood after they had
100,000 residents). In 1850, there were 15 slave states & 15 free states.
Because California’s constitution did not allow slavery, its admission
would mean the balance in the Senate would change. After eight
months of debate, a compromise bill was suggested. The Compromise
of 1850 had benefits for both sides.
For the North it meant:
 California would be admitted as a free state
 Slave trading was ended in the District of Columbia
 Texas gave up its idea of annexing New Mexico, thus taking
that territory away from a slave state
For the South it meant:
 The territories of New Mexico and Utah would determine if
they wanted to be slave or free
 The residents of the District of Columbia could keep the slaves
they already had
 Congress would pass a law (the Fugitive Slave Act) stating that
slaves who ran away to free states would be returned to their
The Georgia Platform:
Many Georgians did not like the Compromise of 1850, but they were
urged to accept it by some of their congressmen. A “Georgia
Platform” supporting the Compromise was adopted at a convention in
Milledgeville (the state capital). It was clear, even to the Georgians
who did not approve of the Compromise, that the measure was
necessary in order for Georgia to remain in the Union. Eventually the
disagreement over the Platform lead to the formation of new political
parties leaving the Democrats in power in Georgia.
f. Kansas-Nebraska Act – This act called for people of new territories to
vote and decide whether their territory should be free or slave. This
act angered northerners who felt it contradicted the Missouri
Compromise which did not allow for slavery north of Missouri’s
southern border. This act caused fighting to break out between
proslavery and freesoiler groups. When Kansas applied for statehood
(as a slave state) its bid was rejected which showed southerners that
the northern votes alone could keep states from being slave states.
g. Dred Scott case – In 1834, Dred Scott, a slave, was taken by his owner
from Missouri to Illinois (a free state), and later to Wisconsin (also
free). When they returned to Missouri later, Dred Scott filed a
lawsuit arguing he should be free because he had lived in a free state.
Abolitionists in the North raised enough money to take the case to the
U.S. Supreme Court where it was ruled that Mr. Scott was not able to
sue because he was a slave and therefore, not a citizen. The Supreme
Court also ruled that Congress had no authority to stop slavery in the
territories, further dividing the North & South.
h. Election of 1860 – In 1854, a new political party formed. Known as the
Republican party, it existed only in free states, so many who were
opposed to slavery joined.
When the democrats had their convention to elect a presidential
candidate in 1860, they argued over the party’s platform. Northern
democrats wanted to campaign on popular sovereignty (the ability of
a territory to decide whether or not they would have slavery), but
southern democrats disagreed. They felt slavery should be allowed in
all the territories. The issue ended up splitting the democrats in two,
and each side nominated its own presidential candidate, Stephen
Douglas from the North and John Breckenridge from the South.
The Republican party nominated Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was
opposed to allowing slavery to spread, but said he would not try to
end it in states where it already existed. In addition, Lincoln’s
platform wanted to implement a protective tariff (allowing western
territory land to be given away to settlers), and construct a
transcontinental railroad (with on end in the North). None of these
measure benefited the South.
Lincoln won the election without receiving the majority of the vote
because the Democratic vote was split. He did not receive a single
electoral vote in the slave states. This was the first time a candidate
had won based upon the vote of one section of the country. Talk of
secession (the act of pulling out of the Union) and war began
6. What debate occurred in Georgia over secession? Although Georgian’s
supported the Union, they favored states’ rights more. Immediately after the
election, Georgia’s governor called a legislative session to determine if a
convention should be called to decide the question of secession. After heated
debate (with Alexander Stephens opposed, and Robert Toombs and Thomas
Cobb for secession), the governor called for a secession convention. In
December 1860 (just a little over a month after Lincoln’s election), South
Carolina seceded from the Union. Most Georgian’s supported South
Carolina’s move, and in January of 1861, Georgia seceded.
Order of secession of the states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida,
Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, & Texas
7. Who was Alexander Stephens, and what role did he play in the Civil War as it
relates to Georgia? Alexander Stephens was a well-known legislator for the
state of Georgia from Crawfordsville who spoke out against secession after
the election of 1860 at the special session called by the governor. He was later
named Vice President of the Confederacy.
8. What types of goods and services were produced in Georgia during the
antebellum time period? The backbone of Georgia’s economy was still
agriculture with cotton being the primary crop. Many cotton mills also
existed in the state by this time as well as shoe factories, tanneries, iron
factories, grist mills, and brick and pottery factories.