|A Nation Divided
As the nation grew, more states joined the United States. The
debates over the balance of power between free states and
slave states grew more heated. The Compromise of 1850
solved the problem for the time being. It allowed California into
the union as a free state; established the Fugitive Slave Law of
1850, which allowed the capture of escaped slaved in free
states; and allowed New Mexico and Utah to make their own
decisions about slavery.
The Conflict Spreads
The passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which
allowed those territories to decide for themselves whether to
allow slavery, angered many abolitionist groups. Strongly
opposed to slavery, the Republican Party was created in 1854.
Abraham Lincoln was a member of the new political party. Dred
Scott, an enslaved man, asked the Supreme Court for freedom
because he lived in a free territory. He was denied. Many
Northern leaders, including Abraham Lincoln, did not agree with
the court's decision. In 1859, John Brown led a rebellion at a
federal building in Harper's Ferry to try to end slavery, but
failed. Lincoln ran for senator against Stephen A. Douglas.
Election of 1860
When Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860, many
Southern states threatened to leave the Union. Soon afterward,
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, and Texas formed a new country, the Confederate
States of America, and chose Jefferson Davis as its president.