Tensions continued to rise between the North and South. Threats of secession were used by the South, especially as the United States continued to expand. In 1848, gold was discovered in California. Those searching for the precious metal headed west in 1849 and became known as 49ers. (You might recognize the name from the NFL team who took their name from the original 49ers of the gold rush.) Eventually, California had enough people to apply for statehood. According to the Missouri Compromise, California straddled the line. Once again, Henry Clay, the Great Compromiser, proposed the Compromise of 1850. It stated that California would be admitted as a free state and slave trade would be outlawed in Washington, D.C. However, new, harsher hfugitive slave laws were passed. Threats of secession ceased.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, another piece of legislation, was adopted for the Transcontinental Railroad. It allowed for 2 territories to vote on the whether to institute slavery in those territories. Kansas would be slave while Nebraska a free state. The vote of slave and free led to an incident known as Bleeding Kansas. Missouri farmers swarmed to Kansas to obtain more votes for pro-slavery. These supporters of slavery fled to Lawrence, Kansas. A man known as John Brown retaliated and attacked the farmers, leading to a bloody conflict.
The territories were not the only places flooded with violence. In the Senate, Charles Sumner spoke out freely against slavery and against a fellow Congressman from the South. Preston Brooks, a relative of the offended Congressman, retaliated by beating him with a cane until it broke. Brooks was considered a hero in the South.
Due to the deepening conflict and opposing viewpoints, the Republican Party was created. The Republicans chose a man named Abraham Lincoln as their candidate while the Democrats chose "The Little Giant," Stephen Douglas. In a series of debates that gained national attention for a Senate race, Douglas beat Lincoln. Despite the loss, the country loved Lincoln.
Further increasing the tensions between the North and the South was the Dred Scott case. Dred Scott, a slave from Missouri, was brought into Illinois, a free state. Scott, then sued for his freedom, stating that because he had lived momentarily in a free state, he was a free man. The Supreme Court ruled against Scott, stating he was not a citizen and could not sue. Only citizens had the right to sue.
After Bleeding Kansas, John Brown returned to Virginia. It was discovered that the abolitionist was going to capture an arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia and arm slaves. In a battle between Brown and his posse and Robert E. Lee, a colonel at the time, and the Union Army, Brown is captured and several die. Brown is later hanged for his crimes.
The final straw was the Election of 1860. The Democrats split and instead chose 3 candidates. The newly founded Republican Party chose Lincoln as their nominee for president. Lincoln, who was not even listed on any southern ballets, managed to win the election. It is because of Lincoln's promotion into office that South Carolina becomes the first state to secede.
The first shots fired in the war occurred at Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter was a federal fort in southern territory. Lincoln, knowing he could not be the first to start the war, announces that he is sending in supplies to the troops. Upon hearing this, members of the South launch an attack on the fort, stating that because it was in southern territory it was a southern fort and feared Lincoln was arming the fort. For 33 hours, the fort took on artillery fire. Troops inside the fort were outnumbered and the Union lost the fort. Despite the 33 hour raid, no casualties resulted. On April 12, 1861, the Civil War begun. Afterwards when more states seceded, Jefferson Davis became President of the Confederate States of America with the capitol being located in Richmond, Virginia.