The Civil War
By 1804, all the Northern states had outlawed slavery, and a few extremists, called abolitionists, called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves in the United States, without compensation to the current owners. As more people migrated westward, the slavery issue became even more controversial. Northerners wanted to prevent slavery from spreading to the Western territories, and Southerners believed that they maintained the right to carry their slaves into the West.
Motivated by the slavery issue and other political debates of the 1840s, Northerners and Southerners strongly disagreed with one another over the definition of "states’ rights." The "states’ rights" debate centered on the issue of how much control and power resided with the states as compared with the authority of the United States government.
Many Southerners strongly believed that the federal government was created by the states; therefore, the states were more powerful than the federal government. Based on their beliefs, Southerners argued that the people of the states could themselves choose which federal laws to obey. Southerners feared that the national government would take away their right to own slaves. Conversely, Northerners felt strongly that the federal government maintained power over the states, especially regarding the slavery issue.
During the 1850s, relations between the North and South continued to worsen. Following Abraham Lincoln’s presidential victory in 1860, Southern states began to secede from the Union. Southerners viewed Lincoln as an abolitionist and feared that he would try to end slavery in the South. The secession of Southern states resulted in the Civil War.
Kansans were active participants in the Civil War. Two-thirds of the adult male population, including black and Indian units, served in the Union army. Kansans fought in many battles in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri and the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Kansas suffered the highest death rate per capita during the war of any state in the Union. The largest Kansas contingent served in the Army of the Frontier under the command of Major General James Blunt, who was the only Kansan to make that rank during the Civil War.
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