Back | About this image
United States in 1850
United States in 1850

This map shows how the United States had become a nation containing two, rival social and economic systems by 1850. Although many northern states actively discriminated against African-Americans in law, they forbade human slavery. Southern states increasingly defined themselves by their reliance upon such servitude, both terms of economic systems of production and racial castes. In 1850 the Congress, led by Stephen Douglas of Illinois, hammered out a convoluted compromise legislation that promised to ease the mounting political tensions between the two sections. But Douglas' drive to organize the Kansas and Nebraska territories west of Iowa and Missouri for statehood only reopened the sections' competition for political primacy. The question remained: Would the new states of Kansas and Nebraska allow slavery, or ban it?. This issue brought Abraham Lincoln from political retirement and helped to organize the new Republican Party. Both sought to prevent slavery's expansion into the new territories.

Image source: Northern Illinois University
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project