Southern leaders had few complaints with the old Constitution under which they had lived. The heart of the conflict, they felt, was that the intent of the written law had been subverted by Northern sectionalists.
Three major areas of conflict were over protective tariffs, the settlement of common territories, and the right to be secure in one’s property. Although tariffs enacted to foster industry had received initial approval from the South, Southerners came to be opposed to these measures as overly beneficial to Northern manufacturers and injurious to the agricultural South. The question of settlement and territorial administration was a particularly abrasive issue, as Northern states sought to stop the expansion of slavery into the territories and Southerners insisted on the right of persons to migrate into the territories with their property, including bound laborers. This was related to the third issue—security in property. Specifically, the properties in question were slaves, and Northern Abolitionists had already demonstrated their view on this matter in the halls of Congress, the prairies of Kansas, and Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
Various compromises and appeasements had held the Union together through past crises, but Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 was the solvent that destroyed the …
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