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Slavery was interwoven into the Southern economy even though only a relatively small portion of the population actually owned slaves.
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.
The book succeeded at its goal, which was to start a wave of anti-slavery sentiment across the nation.
Upon meeting Stowe, President Lincoln remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Some abolitionists actively helped runaway slaves to escape via “the Underground Railroad,” and there were instances in which men, even lawmen, sent to retrieve runaways were attacked and beaten by abolitionist mobs.
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.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.The fugitive slave act along with the publishing of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s was published in serial form in an anti-slavery newspaper in 1851 and in book format in 1852.Ownership of more than a handful of slaves bestowed respect and contributed to social position, and slaves, as the property of individuals and businesses, represented the largest portion of the region’s personal and corporate wealth, as cotton and land prices declined and the price of slaves soared.The states of the North, meanwhile, one by one had gradually abolished slavery.Exacerbating tensions, the old Whig political party was dying.Many of its followers joined with members of the American Party (Know-Nothings) and others who opposed slavery to form a new political entity in the 1850s, the Republican Party.(Brown denied this at his trial, but evidence indicated otherwise.) They were dislodged by a force of U. But when Northern abolitionists made a martyr of him, Southerners came to believe this was proof the North intended to wage a war of extermination against white Southerners.Brown’s raid thus became a step on the road to war between the sections.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.