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The Road to Secession

            In the late 1840s and early 1850s, sectional struggles were renewed as northerners and southerners debated over issues concerning the acquisition of territories and the expansion of slavery into such territories. Southern fears mounted at the prospect of a free Mexican Cession territory. Facing a crisis, the federal government vainly attempted to achieve a balance between the regions. The Compromise of 1850 infuriated the South, as it greatly tipped the scales in favor of the North. Four years later, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was much more divisive, splitting the Democratic Party according to sectional interests and augmenting the Republican Party. In the years after the Kansas-Nebraska Act, sectional disputes grew to momentous proportions as the country drifted toward disunion. As Abraham Lincoln stated, "A house divided against itself cannot stand this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free." Several historical figures were instrumental in the downward spiral of the Union toward secession, beginning with the publishing of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and culminating in the election of Abraham Lincoln.
             The publishing of Uncle Tom's Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe further strained sectional tensions. Stowe wished to enlighten the North's awareness of the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery, especially the tragic splitting of Negro families. Her antislavery sentiments originated in the morals of the Second Great Awakening and were heightened by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. Stowe's heartrending book was pure propaganda. Uncle Tom's Cabin was written solely based on Stowe's own moral convictions; she had never once witnessed slavery firsthand in the Deep South. However, Uncle Tom's Cabin profoundly affected the North, fueling antislavery sentiments and passionate denials of the Fugitive Slave Law. Southerners were outraged that such lies proliferated as truth, and tensions grew.

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