The Gathering Storm

The Coming of the American Civil War

The roots of the American Civil War predate the creation of the United States, with sectional rifts only deepening in the years following the Revolution.  Although there were a variety of regional differences, ranging from the economic to the moral, the most visible and virulent was the debate over slavery.  Between 1780 and 1804, each northern state outlawed the practice, while it continued to flourish to the south.  Abolitionists, who sought to ban 'the peculiar institution' throughout the country, sharpened the debate in the 1830s, while a series of events kept the slavery question at the forefront of the national consciousness.  Tensions heightened in 1831 in the wake of Nat Turner's violent slave rebellion, then again in 1854 when passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed those territories to decide the issue, sparked bloody conflict.  In 1857, in the case Dred Scott v. Sanford, the Supreme Court ruled, among other things, that Congress had no authority to ban slavery in federal territories, prompting an economic panic.  The United States was experiencing unprecedented growth, progress and prosperity, but the political landscape was a minefield of trouble and turmoil.

Voices of Secession

History article focusing on the secession winter of 1860-1861 and the events leading up to the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861.

James Buchanan

Historians often label James Buchanan as one of the worst presidents in United States history. His presidency was marked with conflict, a conflict...

John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun served as one of the most influential politicians in the United States during the antebellum era, and his shifting political loyalties...