Background toCivil War Conflict over Slavery — in New Hampshire and across the Nation
Ulysses S. Grant Next to President Lincoln himself, these two great generals are probably the men we most closely associate with the Civil War. Robert E. Lee
These prominent New Hampshire natives contributed greatly to debates on the issues that eventually led the country to war. But the Civil War didn’t occur suddenly. The conflict developed over more than “four score” years, and involved more than just generals.
These prominent New Hampshire natives contributed greatly to debates on the issues that eventually led the country to war. You will learn more about their contributions — but first some background information.
…and all the colonies allowed slavery and profited fromslave labor — including New Hampshire.
Slavery rapidly grew to become an integral part of colonial American life. 1619 – the first African “servants” arrived in the American colonies 1641 – Massachusetts Bay Colony legalized slavery 1645 – The first slave is recorded in New Hampshire 1660 – Virginia legalized slavery 1663 – Maryland recognized “slavery for life.” 1667 – Virginia recognized “slavery for life.”
By the time the United States became an independent nation, the institution of slavery had taken root more deeply in the South than in the North.
A Contrast: North and South Between 1790 and 1860, the disparity between North and South in the number of slaves grew even greater. By 1860, the worlds were very different.
An Example… New Hampshire South Carolina
New Hampshire By 1840, New Hampshire had 1 slave… …the last census year for which any slave is listed in the state.
South Carolina South Carolina, on the other hand, recorded 327,038 slaves in 1840 — more than half its population. By 1860, just before the Civil War, slaves made up 57% of the state’s total population.
For our founders in 1787, the task of creating a single country from former colonies with widely different social viewsand economic needs would prove extremely difficult.
Even before the country agreed to a constitution, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts had abolished slavery.
Even without formal abolition, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island possessed very few slaves.
But in the South, as well as in the border states of Delaware and Maryland, slave labor was economically important.
Mutual Needs The numerous textile mills along New Hampshire’s rivers depended upon a steady and plentiful supply of cotton grown in the South in order to produce cloth. The South’s need for slave labor was very much linked to production demands of the industrial North.
Mutual Needs In the London Economist (circa 1855),a writer noted: Should any dire calamity befall the land of cotton, … ten thousand mills must stop their busy looms; two thousand thousand mouths would starve, for lack of food tofeed them. The writer was talking about England, — but he could as easily have been referring to New England, includingNew Hampshire.
Compromise In order to unite North and South as a country, the framers of the Constitution… • Agreed not to attempt to restrict slavery or slave trade in the states for 20 years, and • Agreed to count slaves as 3/5 of a human being for purposes of calculating representation in the House of Representatives — thus giving southern states more power.
Compromise Over the next 70 years additional compromises included… • Forbidding slavery in the new Northwest territories (1787) • Forbidding importation of new slaves from Africa (1807); • Creating a balance of “free” and “slave” states admitted to the Union (1820); • Allowing slave owners to recover runaway slaves, even in “free” states and territories (1793 and 1850); and • Allowing residents of a territory to decide for themselves whether they would be “slave” or “free” (1854).
New Hampshire Conflict Even without slaves inside their own borders… New Hampshire people became passionately involved in the national debate about slavery and abolition.
New Hampshire Conflict Fervid abolitionists included the Hutchinsons. This popular singing family from Milford traveled throughout the nation carrying their musical call for immediate emancipation.
New Hampshire Conflict Another New Hampshire voice for abolition was that of Horace Greeley of Amherst. As founder of the New York Tribune, Greeley editorialized for abolition. Early in the Civil War, Greeley chided President Lincoln for not acting to emancipate the nation’s slaves.
New Hampshire Conflict John Parker Hale of Rochester, a U.S. representative, then U.S. senator, won national acclaim for his moral stance against slavery.…
New Hampshire Conflict Hale’s opposition to the admission of any more slave states into the Union helped divide the state’s Democratic Party. This split reflected a nationwide rift in the party on the issue of slavery and abolition.
New Hampshire Conflict A member of the Whig Party, Daniel Webster, originally from Salisbury, shared with some Democrats the view that compromise was essential to preserve the Union.
New Hampshire Conflict Franklin Pierce, a Hillsboro native and leader of New Hampshire’s Democrats, firmly opposed abolition. He feared that the abolition movement would destroy the Union.…
New Hampshire Conflict Pierce consistently supported Southern positions that favored allowing additional slave states into the Union. But, personally, he thought of slavery as… “one of the greatest moral and social evils… a curse upon the whole country.…”
New Hampshire Conflict Pierce’s sympathies made him the only presidential candidate capable of winning votes in the South as well as in his native North. In 1853, he became the nation’s 14th president — the only one from New Hampshire. It would prove to be adifficult presidency.
New Hampshire Conflict Amos Tuck, an Exeter lawyer, had long opposed Franklin Pierce’s political views. Some credit him with forming the Republican Party in 1853 at a meeting in an Exeter tavern… — just seven months after Franklin Pierce had become president.
New Hampshire Conflict The new party united a number of smaller groups opposed to Pierce and other Democrats sympathetic with southern views. This New Hampshire Republican campaign banner attacks Democrat James Buchanan and his vice-presidential candidate as supporters of slavery and “popular sovereignty”.… Despite the banner, the Democratic Party won this election of 1856.
New Hampshire Conflict But in 1860, only six years after the party was formed, Republicans would elect their first president — Abraham Lincoln.
Throughout its brief history as a nation — from its inception in 1787 with the drafting of the Constitution to the election of President Lincoln in 1860 and the start of the Civil War — the country had struggled with the issue of slavery. Here is how the nation grew during those tumultuous years.
1790–1799 Free States: VermontSlave States: Kentucky, Tennessee
1800–1809 Free States: OhioSlave States: —
1810–1819 Free States: Indiana, IllinoisSlave States: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama
1820–1829 Maine’s entry into the Union was allowed only with acceptance of Missouri as a slave state. As part of the agreement, it was decided that in the future, slave states would be confined below a latitude roughly along Missouri’s southern border. The agreement became known as the Missouri Compromise. Free States: MaineSlave States: Missouri
1830–1839 Free States: MichiganSlave States: Arkansas
1840–1849 Free States: Iowa, WisconsinSlave States: Florida, Texas
1850–1859 Free States: California, Minnesota, OregonSlave States: —
1854 Earlier disagreements over admitting Texas and California flared again with proposals to admit Kansas and Nebraska.
1854 Earlier disagreements over admitting Texas and California flared again with proposals to admit Kansas and Nebraska. President Pierce’s signature on the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed residents of a territory to choose for themselves whether they wished to be a “free” or a “slave” state. Abolitionists from the North and slave-holders from the South both raced into Kansas Territory to influence the vote — often with incredible violence. Kansas became known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
1860 South Carolina secedes from the Union.
1861 Ten other slave states secede and declare themselves the Confederate States of America.
1861 All the free states remain loyal to the Union.
1861 Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri — all slave states — remain loyal to the Union. Civil War begins!
1861–1865 Three states join the Union during the war: Kansas (1861), West Virginia (1863)*, and Nebraska (1865)*West Virginia seceded from Confederate Virginia.