Political Systems

  Dred Scott
Dred Scott
Import Tariffs

  • Import tariff = a government tax placed on products that are brought into the country.
  • Import tariffs were not popular with people in the South because when they bought things from Britain they had to pay not only the cost, but also the import tariff as well.
  • In 1807 the US stopped trading with Britain. After the war of 1812 the trading started again and Britain had many goods to offer. The problem for the US companies that had grown during this time was that Britain had a great supply of goods built up. They so much that they were able to sell products to the US at a lower cost than the American companies could sell them. The result was that many American factories went out of business.
  • To help the American industry protective tariffs were introduced. Protective tariffs were taxes on items brought into the US that had the end result of making imported items more expensive than those that were made by the US factories. This boosted the sales of the items produced by the US factories and helped them stay in business.
  • Southerners named the Tariff of 1828 the "Tariff of Abominations" because the end result for them was that they had to pay more money for British goods.

The Abolitionist Movement

  • The abolitionists were people who thought that slavery was wrong and wanted it stopped immediately all through the United States.
  • Unconstitutional: when the action taking place does not adhere to the Constitution of the United States.
  • States' rights is the concept that the federal government's power actually did not belong to them but was only borrowed from the states.
  • The abolitionists increased their political activity in the hopes that people would get upset enough over slavery that they would eventually make it illegal.
  • The second solution to slavery that the abolitionists used was to try to help the slaves escape whenever they could.
  • John Brown was a radical abolitionist who was so involved in the freeing of slaves that he even was involved in acts of violence toward those who held slaves.
  • Southerners felt defensive as a result of the increased activities of the abolitionists. Defensive means that you feel that you may be assaulted and you are ready to fight back.
  • Abolitionist activities made compromise more difficult because the Southerners felt that all Northerners were abolitionists. This made them feel very defensive indeed and they were reluctant to compromise for fear of losing all their slaves.


  • Stephen Douglas was a Democratic senator from Illinois who wanted very badly to get a railroad going from Illinois to California. However, this railroad could not be built until all the land that the railroad would cross had been organized into territories of the United States. Senator Douglas's answer to this was to organize all that land to be a single territory called Nebraska.
  • The southern senators did not like this idea of a single territory called Nebraska at all. They did not like it because it would mean that the territory might end up being more free states and cause the balance of power to shift even more to the north.

Formation of the Republican Party

  • The Dred Scott decision was a ruling by the Supreme Court that stated that African Americans did not have the right to access a federal court on their behalf because they could not become American citizens. This decision showed that America had little regard for the rights of African Americans that were held as slaves.
  • In 1854 people in the North were disappointed with the Kansas-Nebraska Act and started a new party called the Republican Party. Unlike the abolitionists, they did not care to end slavery completely, only to stop its spread.
  • In the election of 1856 the Republican Party was strong enough to have a candidate for president, John C. Freemont, who opposed the spread of slavery into the territories. The Democratic Party, however, still had taken no position regarding the issue of slavery.
  • During the election of 1856 the Republicans almost won the election even though nobody in the South supported them. This shows that the South was losing its influence.

Abraham Lincoln

  • Abraham Lincoln was one of the men to join the Republican party. In 1858 he became President.
  • Part of the reason that Lincoln won the President election was because his opponent, Stephen Douglas had been responsible for the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Republicans were angry with Douglas because they wanted to stop the spread of slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed it to spread.
  • Abraham Lincoln felt that slavery in the South would eventually cease to exist.