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Antebellum America Textbook

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The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 - Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a series of formal political debates between the challenger, Abraham Lincoln, and the incumbent, Stephen A. Douglas, in a campaign for one of Illinois' two United States Senate seats. Although Lincoln lost the election, these debates launched him into national prominence which eventually led to his election as President of the United States. Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in seven of the nine Illinois Congressional Districts; the seven where Douglas had not already spoken. In each debate either Douglas or Lincoln would open with an hour address. The other would then speak for an hour and a half. The first then had 30 minutes of rebuttal. We are deeply indebted to the work of the Abraham Lincoln Association in collecting Lincoln's writings and publishing them as The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858.

American Experience . John Brown's Holy War. Wage Slavery . Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided . WGBH American Experience. New York Historical Society A Northern worker falls ill In the decade between 1846 and 1855, more than three million immigrants came to the United States, with a vast majority of them settling in the free states of the North. By 1855, foreign-born residents were becoming a majority group; immigrants approached or exceeeded half the total population of several Northern cities. The new Americans arriving in this burst of immigration were nothing like those who had come before. Before 1840, three-quarters of all immigrants had been Protestants. Most were single men from the British Isles. The growing industrial economy of the North swallowed these new workers into its factories, employing them for long hours at low wages.

A Southern worker is dressed well For some Southerners, the situation of Northern workers looked a lot worse than slavery. Defending Slavery: Comparing Factory Workers and Slaves . Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided . WGBH American Experience. Excerpt from William Grayson, "The Hireling and the Slave. " "The Hireling"Free but in name -- the slaves of endless toil...In squalid hut -- a kennel for the poor,Or noisome cellar, stretched upon the floor,His clothing rags, of filthy straw his bed,With offal from the gutter daily fed...These are the miseries, such the wants, the cares,The bliss that freedom for the serf prepares...

"The Slave"Taught by the master's efforts, by his careFed, clothed, protected many a patient year,From trivial numbers now to millions grown,With all the white man's useful arts their own,Industrious, docile, skilled in wood and field,To guide the plow, the sturdy axe to wield...Guarded from want, from beggary secure,He never feels what hireling crowds endure,Nor knows, like them, in hopeless want to crave,For wife and child, the comforts of the slave,Or the sad thought that, when about to die,He leaves them to the cold world's charity...

Grayson, William John. The Hireling and the Slave. (2nd ed.) Virtual Tour . Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided . American Experience . WGBH. The slave quarters at the McLeod Plantation on James Island in South Carolina show what the typical living space was like for rural slaves in the South. "Master used to say that if we didn't suit him he would put us in his pocket quick -- meaning that he would sell us," - former slave William Johnson For the 3.9 million African American slaves counted in the census of 1860, life was brutal. Anywhere from 50-75 slaves lived on the property in the 26 slave dwellings that are believed to have existed. Each day promised ceaseless toil, threats or punishment, and the looming, nightmarish possibility of being sold away from beloved family members and friends. Even those slaves who accepted their situation without complaint, who had kind owners, or who were given lighter work duties suffered from the absence of self-determination, the possibility of freely choosing the course of their own lives.

Ledger of John White Matilda Selby, 9, $400.00 Sold to Mr. Shifting Political Landscape . Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided . WGBH American Experience. As the nation expanded westward, the dispute over slavery intensified. Citizens of Southern slave states clashed with Northern activists who were morally opposed to slavery. Would the new territories extend slavery, or prohibit it? Former president Thomas Jefferson, in his late 70s at the time of the Missouri Compromise, once described the difficult situation slavery presented. "We have the wolf by the ears," he declared, "and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.

" The Missouri Compromise, 1820 When Missouri sought statehood in 1819, the question of whether it would be admitted to the Union as a slave or free state set off a fierce sectional debate between Northern and Southern legislators. The Compromise of 1850 The extension of slavery was again an issue when California, heavily populated by settlers during the Gold Rush of 1849, applied for entrance to the Union as a free state. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854. Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe- "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. "Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, As his corse to the rampart we hurried; America's "Forgotten War," south of the border. The Gadsden Purchase (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) Old Mexico lives on. The U.S.-Mexican War.