You will be given the background information on each of the
following historical events and be asked to decide what YOU
would do in the same situation.
In 1820 the number of free states and slave states is equal.
The Missouri Territory is applying to become a state. They want
to become a slave state. Northerners don't want to have more
slave states than free, and southerners want slavery to expand
into the western territories. If Missouri becomes a slave state,
the number will be unequal and slavery might expand even farther.
If Missouri becomes a free state, the number of those states
will increase and slavery might be ended, hurting the south's
plantation economy. What would YOU do?
Should Missouri become a free state or slave state? Or is
there a way to compromise (make an agreement where both sides
win)? There are rumors that Maine wants to enter the union as
a free state. YOU decide.
Your choices are:
Missouri should be a slave state, making the number of slave
states greater than free states.
Missouri should be a free state, making the number of free states
greater than slave states.
Missouri should be a slave state and Maine should be a free
state, keeping the number equal.
Compromise of 1850
In 1849, the number of free states and slave states is still
equal. California, New Mexico and Utah wish to enter the Union
as free states. Congress wants to keep the number of slave states
and free states the same, but there is also the idea of popular
sovereignty. Popular sovereignty means the states have the right
to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. Southerners
want a tougher Fugitive Slave Law if states enter the Union
as free. This decision will determine the future of the United
States. What would YOU do?
Should California be admitted as a free state? Should states
use popular sovereignty to decide slavery? Should a new Fugitive
Slave Law help the south? YOU decide.
Admit California as a free state, New Mexico and Utah can decide
by popular sovereignty, and create a new Fugitive Slave Law.
All states should enter the Union using popular sovereignty
and create a new Fugitive Slave Law.
All states should enter as free states with no new Fugitive
Fugitive Slave Law Of 1850
The South is having a problem with runaway slaves. More and
more slaves are escaping to the North. The government has just
passed a new Fugitive Slave Law, which helps the South to recover
escaped slaves. This new law stated that runaway slaves did
not have the right to a jury trial or to testify in court. Anyone
who helped a fugitive slave could be fined a $1,000 or put in
Kidnappers received $10 for every slave captured in the North
and returned to the South. The slave owners often offered rewards.
What would YOU do?
You are a police officer in the North, and you know about some
escaped slaves. Do you turn them in for your reward or help
with their escape and risk being fined? YOU decide.
Your choices are:
You follow the law and turn in the escaped slave.
You help the slave escape and risk being put into jail.
You inform the slave catchers where the escaped slaves can be
In 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas from Illinois wanted a transcontinental
railroad to go from his state to California. For the railroad
to succeed, the land west of the Mississippi River would have
to be organized into territories. In order to get the railroad
approved by Congress, Douglas needed both northern and southern
support. Douglas called for popular sovereignty to decide the
slavery issue in the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, however,
the Missouri Compromise had banned slavery in this area. The
Kansas and Nebraska Act violated the Missouri Compromise. If
the law passes it is likely that both pro-slavery and anti-slavery
settlers will rush to settle the Kansas and Nebraska Territories.
There may be fighting or violence or bloodshed. What would YOU
Should slavery in the Kansas and Nebraska Territory be decided
by popular sovereignty? Should they remain free as the Missouri
Compromise stated? Is the railroad important enough to cause
these tensions? YOU decide.
Allow Kansas and Nebraska to be settled by popular sovereignty.
Kansas and Nebraska should be free states because of the Missouri
Refuse to build the transcontinental railroad in these territories.
Dred Scott decision
Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri, but his master had moved
him to Illionios and Wisconsin. Dred Scott claimed that since
he had lived in free states, he was a free man. In 1857, the
Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Dred Scott's case. The
Justices had many issues to consider with this decision. What
would YOU do? Dred Scott is not considered a citizen, so does
he have the right to a trail? Is the Missouri Compromise constitiutional;
can slavery be banned? Are slaves property? YOU decide.
Dred Scott becomes a free man.
Dred Scott is property, does not have a right to a trial, and
remains a slave.
Dred Scott remains a slave and the Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional
because slavery can not be banned in any territory.
North or South?
Match the abolitionist
would you do?
Be a columnist
SOL Civil War key word index