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AP.USH:
KC‑5.2.II.A (KC)
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Unit 5: Learning Objective D

Video transcript

this is Sal here and I'm with Kim Cutts who's Khan Academy's American history content fellow and but what I'm curious about is you know in school you learn about the Civil War you learn about slavery that slavery was a cause of the Civil War but at least for myself I never got a full context of you know what were all the dynamics that led to the civil wars it's just something that happened overnight oh definitely not you know I think the seeds of the Civil War were really with the United States at its creation you know I think there's a sort of an essential contradiction in the United States as it's born you know where this country where all men are created equal except that most of the states in the south have slavery where people are clearly not created equal so you know they couldn't win the Revolutionary War without including those states and kind of giving them what they wanted in retaining slavery but it means that you know the u.s. is born with both free states and slave states and they're going to continue to try to figure out how to balance those for the rest of the 1800s and we have this map here this map is a later period but it shows the this is actually closer to the Civil War but if we leaving to look at the original 13 colonies you can see which ones were free states and which ones were which ones were slave states and then you obviously have these other states that come in later which will which we'll talk about but this what you're saying is the founding of the country this was already an issue people are you know there were people in the North who weren't fans of slavery and people knew that somebody's being irreconcilable or maybe they hoped it would be reconcilable a difference listen we got to unify against Great Britain I guess let's just become a country and do it you know even Thomas Jefferson the author of the Declaration of Independence he knew that slavery was a contradiction he called the issue of having slavery like holding a wolf by the ears right you can't hold on to it but you can't let it go because so many of the wealthy elites who are going to end up in Congress in the south our slave owners so they want including himself exactly so they want to protect their interests so we have that that it's you know that the issue is there from from the the moment that the country is founded and then we get into the 1800s which is really the run-up year the Civil War doesn't start until you know we get into 1860 or shortly thereafter what or actually 1860 what what is you know what are what are the what's the big picture that really leads up to it well I think what we're looking at when we get into the issues that lead to the civil war is really about how the u.s. handles getting new territory right the u.s. was getting a lot of you territory we have a map here it's the first really big chunk is you have the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and so you get all of see let me shade it in you get you know roughly all of this stuff right over here so that's new areas that it settlers can go and write and and it comes officially part of the US and what else happens so you know as we get these new territories out of them you're going to get new states and when new states come into the Union they're going to come in as either free states or slave states so you know we've balanced the interests of the north and south up until this point right from the Revolutionary War so that there's equal representation in Congress between free states and slave states well why does why does someone care if I'm you know if I'm someone in Massachusetts why do I care whether the new state of Missouri is going to be a free state or a slave state well I think there there are two reasons why you might care first you know if you're an abolitionist and these are the people who we know very well like Frederick Douglas or William Lloyd Garrison who was the editor of the newspaper The Liberator these are the people who feel that correctly slavery is morally wrong you know slavery is a corruption of the essential principles on which the country was founded um it's something that you know destroys lives destroys families but another reason if you're say in Massachusetts or Pennsylvania why you might care whether a new Slits state is a slave state is you're worried about opportunities for yourself out West you know we know that horace greeley this famous newspaper editor he says what do you do if you're a young man and new york and young white man who doesn't know how to get ahead he says go west young man you know you can go out there you can get some land you can start a farm but if you go out there and you find that all of the land has been bought up by rich slaveholders from the south you might not be able to get any land and you certainly might not be able to for example sell your corn at a rate low enough that you could beat somebody who has free labor so there was a lot of times there's a lot of focus on the moral argument which is a very strong argument but there's also this this interesting economic argument which you just talked about which is it's hard to compete with slavery I mean you're literally talking about labor that does not need traditional wages right that is literally slave labor and so if you are having your own farm and you aren't you don't own slaves how are you going to compete with that and so those are some folks in the north on economic argument now with these people be considered abolitionists know the way that we think about those we call them anti-slavery so anti-slavery advocates they they don't think that they can get rid of slavery in the South even if they don't like slavery in the South they don't even see how it'd be possible to get rid of it but they do think that as these new states are coming into the Union they could prevent them from becoming slave states so that it's possible for the western lands to remain free you know Abraham Lincoln I think is a really good poster child for this well I think we'll talk about him a little bit more later but Lincoln is born in Kentucky one of these new western states his father is a small white farmer and slave owners move into Kentucky later it becomes a slave a slave state and his father can't find work his father can't find land so he ends up first having to move to Indiana then moving to Illinois so this is literally a case of one of these poor white farmers who just can't compete with slavery which is one reason why Lincoln himself is later going to come out so strongly in favor of making sure there's no slavery in the web so abolitionists want slavery is is is amoral it needs to be removed from definitely the United States possibly the world anti slavery they also think slavery is bad they don't like it right up they think it's a well but I'm not going to fight that fight to remove it but maybe that's hard to do or impossible but it shouldn't spread it's not fair it's the reason my dad wasn't able to be able to run his farm absolutely and so when we get it so that's you know you have the Louisiana Purchase anyway in other videos we talk it's famously Napoleon sold it for quite cheap because that he couldn't defend it because he was not even tours and he's fighting these wars in Europe that's the big that's the first chunk of land so you have all of these states and they need to figure out whether their slave slave states are free states but why would I mean I talked about why would a northerner care whether a slave or free trade why would a southerner care why would I may if I'm a slave owner I owned a plantation in South Carolina or Georgia why do I care if Missouri is a slave state or a free State well I think you know just as their political interests are tied up in slavery all of their money is tied up in slavery you know in 1860 the most valuable thing that anyone owns in the United States is slaves right you can't you can't compete with that kind of money so they want to make sure that if a new state comes into the Union that state isn't a free state because then the free states might have more representation in Congress and then they can vote to outlaw slavery so if your whole fortune is built on slavery if you're a white slave owner they outlaw that then you're left with nothing I see so in the north there's a moral argument there's the economic argument slavery slavery is hard to compete with and the South hey if we have too many of these free states at some point they're going to have a majority you know enough of a voting power in the government to to to maybe abolish slavery one day which would completely undermine if I'm a slave owner my you know my my economics of my reality right I mean and they are sort of essentially amoral even you know someone like Jefferson who knows that slavery is wrong his whole wealth his whole fortune his whole political dynasty is built on the fortune of owning slaves and and you know one of the the first points where this you know this really gets balanced this issue is we have Louisiana Purchase in 1803 then starting to carve out the Louisiana Purchase you have states like Missouri they get to their critical mass of people of populations so that they can become a state and so what was the Missouri Compromise all about in 1820 so the Missouri Compromise is when we have enough people living in Missouri you know these are white people generally coming who have come from the eastern states and they apply for statehood you've got an equal number of slave states and free states already in Congress so if Missouri comes in they want to be a slave state they're going to upset the applecart they're going to upset the balance so there will be more representatives for the south than there will be for north and everything they've done so far has been predicated on this sort of tenuous balance between free states and slave states so you know they debate this in Congress just four months and eventually what they do is say all right well we can't decide so we're going to do is admit the state of Maine at the same time and administer the territory of Maine was already part of the United States what I mean how is it not already a state it was part of Massachusetts but as you can see you know it's really only tenuously connected to Massachusetts so they divide this territory up so that it can have its own representation in Congress so they say all right we can't solve this problem of the balance of power between free states and slave states right now so what we're going to do is just kind of extend our balance we're going to keep this compromise going to make sure that they're the same number of free and slave states so we'll let Missouri in as a slave state at the same time we let Maine in as a free state fascinating so I think and I mean I see where this is going that you have these very tenuous compromise while more and more territories being added it's exciting to see where all of this goes
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