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To the slave holding states, this meant Northerners wanted to choose which parts of the Constitution they would enforce, while expecting the South to honor the entire document.The most famous activist of the underground railroad was Harriet Tubman, a nurse and spy in the Civil War and known as the Moses of her people. S.–Mexican War of 1846–1848 heightened the slavery debate.They claimed obedience to “higher law” over obedience to the Constitution’s guarantee that a fugitive from one state would be considered a fugitive in all states.
Slavery was interwoven into the Southern economy even though only a relatively small portion of the population actually owned slaves.
Slaves could be rented or traded or sold to pay debts.
The burning issue that led to the disruption of the union was the debate over the future of slavery.
That dispute led to secession, and secession brought about a war in which the Northern and Western states and territories fought to preserve the Union, and the South fought to establish Southern independence as a new confederation of states under its own constitution.
The agrarian South utilized slaves to tend its large plantations and perform other duties.
On the eve of the Civil War, some 4 million Africans and their descendants toiled as slave laborers in the South.
That was not enough to calm the fears of delegates to an 1860 secession convention in South Carolina.
To the surprise of other Southern states—and even to many South Carolinians—the convention voted to dissolve the state’s contract with the United States and strike off on its own.
Abolitionists fought to have slavery declared illegal in those territories, as the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 had done in the territory that became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Advocates of slavery feared that if the institution were prohibited in any states carved out of the new territories the political power of slaveholding states would be diminished, possibly to the point of slavery being outlawed everywhere within the United States.