As westward expansion took hold, the question of whether the United States would be a proslavery or antislavery nation took on new importance. In the North, antislavery forces included abolitionists, who wanted a future without slavery so that black people could be free, and Free Soil advocates, who resented having to compete with owners of slave-tended plantations for use of new lands. White Southern planters wanted a future for themselves and their prosperous way of life, which depended on the institution of slavery.
As the New York Tribune announced, "We are two peoples. We are a people for Freedom and a people for slavery. Between the two, conflict is inevitable." Rising conflict led to Civil War in 1861, and the country was torn asunder. After four years and the loss of 617,000 American lives, the Union was saved, African Americans were promised the rights of citizens, and slavery was abolished.
Next: Map: From Coast to Coast
Part 4 Narrative:
Map: From Coast to Coast
Fugitive Slaves and Northern Racism
The Civil War
Part 4: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide
Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop
WGBH | PBS Online | ©