||Slavery introduced in Jamestown.
||Northwest Ordinances ban slavery in new territories of the Northwest.
||Constitution ratified ? acknowledges the existence of slavery indirectly
and appears not to give Congress the power to abolish slavery, but
sets 1808 as the date when Congress may abolish the slave trade.
||Amendment X ratified, guaranteeing states rights.
||Congress abolishes the slave trade.
||Missouri Compromise issued ? admits Missouri as a slave state and Maine
as a free state; slavery is to be banned in future states above the 36°
30í line. In the constitution written by the Missouri territory,
free blacks and free mulattos are barred from the future state.
||Mexican Independence from Spain ? Mexico begins to invite Americans
to settle Texas territory under the conditions that the settlers
convert to Catholicism and observe Mexican laws, including the abolition
||Mexico passes anti-colonization law to prevent Americans from further
||Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing The Liberator.
||Nat Turner leads an uprising of approximately 70 slaves in Southampton,
Virginia ? 100 Virginia slaves are slaughtered in search of Turner;
Turner is executed when found. The uprising so shakes Southern states
that they pass more stringent laws related to slaves, increase censorship
against abolition, and make military preparations to halt further uprisings.
||South Carolinaís Ordinance of Nullification ? South Carolina legislature
also adopts measures to enforce this ordinance, even allowing for
military preparations and secession if the Federal government resorts
||Britain abolishes slavery in her colonies ? America is becoming increasingly
isolated as a nation that allows slavery
||Santa Anna, President of Mexico, proclaims a unified constitution for
all Mexican territories, including Texas ? North American settlers
in Texas announce that they intend to secede from Mexico rather than
give up their "right" to slavery, which Mexico had abolished.
||The Battle of the Alamo ? President Santa Anna leads a siege on the
Alamo , in an attempt to defend his idea of a unitary state. Mexican
soldiers overwhelm the fort, but the Texansí heroic defense of the
Alamo inspires North American settlers to secede.
||Texans declare independence from Mexico ? they name Sam Houston commander
of their army, and adopt a constitution that formally legalizes slavery
||Texans defeat Mexicans and capture Santa Anna at the battle of San
Jacinto. The Texans ratify their own constitution, elect Sam Houston
as President, and send an envoy to Washington to demand annexation
or recognition of the independent Republic of Texas. Annexation of
Texas will remain a controversial issue for the next nine years,
as it pits pro-slavery Southerners against anti-slavery Northerners.
||Whig William Henry Harrison is elected President, and John Tyler is
his Vice President.
||William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia after only one month in office.
Vice President John Tyler becomes the first American to succeed to
||Webster-Ashburton Treaty between the United States and Great Britain
is signed, settling boundary disputes between the U.S. and Canada.
||Santa Anna, President of Mexico, warns that he would consider the American
annexation of Texas as tantamount to a declaration of war against
||James Polk , Democrat, defeats Whig Henry Clay for the presidency.
Polk is somewhat unknown, but his aggressive expansionist views on
acquiring Texas, Oregon, and California strike a receptive chord
||President Polk decides to treat Texas as a state, though it is still
Mexican territory under international law. He sends a detachment
of the U.S. army, led by Zachary Taylor, to the southwestern border
of Texas to guard against "invasion" from Mexico.
||The term, "Manifest Destiny" appears for the first time in the expansionist
magazine the Democratic Review, in an article by the editor, John
||Polk commissions John Slidell to negotiate with Mexico for the purchase
of Texas, New Mexico, and California.
||Texas joins the Union as the twenty-eighth state.
||Potato famines in Ireland begin to force great numbers of Irish immigrants
to America. The migration will continue for the next several years
with about 1.5 million Irish arriving.
||John Slidell reports that his negotiations with Mexico have been unsuccessful.
Polk orders General Taylor to move the American troops further south,
to a position near the left bank of the Rio Grande River, which has
always been recognized as Mexican territory.
||Mexican forces strike Fort Texas, a fort constructed by Taylorís men.
At the request of President Polk, Congress approves a declaration
of war with Mexico. This war is yet another divisive issue between
the North and South.
||Oregon boundary dispute between U.S. and Britain is settled.
||Wilmot Proviso introduced in the House by David Wilmot, representative
from Pennsylvania, which states that "neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude shall ever exist in any part of territories that might
be acquired from Mexico." This bill does not pass.
||Abraham Lincoln takes his seat in the House of Representatives for
||The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed by the Senate, ending the
war with Mexico. The United States gains over 500,000 square miles which
include what shall become the states of California, Nevada, Utah,
Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Texas is
also conceded to the U.S., with its boundary at the Rio Grande. The U.S.
pays $15 million.
||The Free Soil movement begins, opposing the spread of slavery into
the new territories.
||Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War, is elected President. Millard
Fillmore is Vice President.
||Thoreau publishes "Civil Disobedience," an essay that grew out of his
refusal to pay taxes supporting the Mexican War.
||President Taylor dies of cholera and vice-president Millard Fillmore
||Congress adopts the Compromise of 1850, based on the five resolutions
as drawn up by Henry Clay. California is admitted as a free state;
the territories of New Mexico and Utah are organized without any restriction
on slavery, to be decided by popular sovereignty; slave trade is abolished
in the District of Columbia; a more stringent Fugitive Slave Act is issued.
||Uncle Tomís Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, begins to appear as a
serial in the anti-slavery publication, The National Era. The complete
novel is published in 1852. It will sell over one million copies within
a year. It will also be adapted as a stage play and thus reach even more
||A resolution against the Fugitive Slave Act is submitted by Senator
||Democrat Franklin Pierce is elected President over General Winfield
Scott. William R. King is Vice President.
||Gadsden Purchase for $10 million, Mexico agrees to cede a rectangular
strip of territory along the present-day border of Arizona and New
Mexico, which provides part of an ideal route for a railroad to the
||The Kansas-Nebraska Act passes Congress creates two new territories
with "squatter" or "popular sovereignty" concerning the question
of slavery. The act effectively repeals the Missouri Compromise. Opponents
to this act form the basis of the new Republican Party. The party is made
up of former Whigs, anti-slavery Democrats, and Free-soilers.
||The "Ostend Manifesto" is drawn up by American foreign ministers in
Cuba they argue that Cuba must be annexed as a slave state,
and that if Spain refuses to sell the island, it should be taken by force.
When the document is published in the U.S., the public reaction is negative
and the proposal falls from view.
||The Know-Nothing Party holds its first meeting in Cincinnati.
||"Bleeding Kansas" small scale civil war erupts in Kansas between
free-state and slave-state factions. Battles will continue until
1856 and beyond.
||Frederick Douglass publishes his autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom
||"The Caning of Sumner" Charles Sumner, the outspoken anti-slavery
senator from Massachusetts, gives a speech against the pro-slavery
elements in the Senate; three days later, South Carolina representative
Preston Brooks beats Sumner unconscious with a cane.
||Democrat James Buchanan is elected President. Republican Frémont
second, sweeping the Northern states. John C. Breckenridge is Vice
||Dred Scott case in Dred Scott v. Sanford, the Supreme Court declares
that the Missouri Compromise is unconstitutional.
||Hinton R. Helper publishes the Impending Crisis of the South
he argues that slavery has impoverished Southern whites; it is banned
in the South.
||Lincoln-Douglas debates the two candidates for representative
of Illinois meet for a series of seven debates. Slavery is the main
||John Brownís raid on Harpers Ferry Brown leads a group of whites
and blacks to attack the Federal arsenal. Brown is tried for conspiracy
and then hanged.
||Republican Abraham Lincoln elected President he wins with a clear
majority of electoral votes but only a plurality of the popular votes.
He defeats Breckenridge, Douglas, and Bell. Hannibal Hamlin is his
||In his final message to Congress, President James Buchanan stresses
that states have no legal right to secede, yet neither does the Federal
Government have the basis to prevent such an action.
||South Carolina legislature convenes and votes to secede from the Union.
Meanwhile, Congress convenes in an effort to work out some compromise;
the Crittenden Compromise is proposed, which would restore the Missouri
Compromise line across the continent. The compromise is ineffectual in
the face of the events at hand.
||March 4, Abraham Lincoln inaugurated president.
||March 11, The Confederate States of America adopts a Constitution.
The Confederacy presently includes only the seven states of the Deep
South Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi,
South Carolina and Texas.
||April 12, South Carolina troops fire on the Federal arsenal at Fort
Sumter. The Civil War begins. The states of Virginia, North
Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas will secede from the Union in coming months.
Though they are slave states, the "border states" of Delaware, Maryland,
Kentucky and Missouri will remain loyal to the Union.