Conflicts Between Liberty & Equality in Pre-Civil War America

1343 WordsMar 16, 20126 Pages
The conflicts between liberty and equality in America have ranged between minor disagreements to full-out war. The most obvious contingent in the struggle between liberty and equality is slavery, but there was also friction in the women’s suffrage movement and various other attempts to provide equal rights under the law. While slavery in the United States always had its opponents, it wasn’t until 1787 that these detractors started to cause real obstacles for slave owners. During the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, one of the issues raised was whether slaves would be counted as part of the population in determining representation in the United States Congress or considered property not entitled to representation. In a head-to-head…show more content…
This compromise did not sit well with the slave states of the South nor the free states of the North. Representatives from both pro-slavery and free states rushed to the new territories with the intention of voting on the slavery issue. Slavery won in the election of 1855, but the vote was fraudulent because of these non-resident voters. Fighting broke out among the opposing sides in 1856 and the famous beating of Charles Sumner by Preston Brooks on the Senate floor also occurred. These events would become known as “Bleeding Kansas”. In 1857, a Missouri slave named Dred Scott sued his owners for his freedom. His argument was that, since his former owners took him to live with them in Free Territories of Wisconsin, he was therefore free. The Dred Scott Decision gave abolition a black eye. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Dred Scott remained a slave because blacks were not citizens and had no citizenship rights, including the right to file a suit in court. The Court also ruled that Congress had the right to ban slavery anywhere. This nullified the Missouri Compromise, even though the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 had repealed it. The Dred Scott Decision angered the North and gave the slave states of the South validation. The abolitionists feared that the Decision would allow for slavery to expand into additional territories and, once again, showed that slavery was a national issue, not just a problem for the South. Not all attempts at conflict were

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