In chapter 21 and chapter 22 of The Rise of American Democracy, Wilentz describes the political events leading up to the American Civil War. Like the blog posts written by my classmates, Wilentz focuses on the almost unwritten part of American history leading up to the war that I had not heard of before these chapters. Instead of focusing on the battles and major events leading up to the Civil War that we learn in American history classes, Wilentz discusses the territorial and political battles in Congress that separated pro-Slavery southerners from anti-Slavery northerners.
The warrant for William and Ellen Craft was an especially interesting event that I had never heard of before. Acting under the Fugitive Slave Law, two slave catchers traveled to Boston to catch and return William and Ellen Craft, but when Boston abolitionists heard of their journey, they helped the couple hid and escape to Great Britain. The abolitionist’s actions enraged southern slave-owners and President Fillmore, but it also shows the dividing factor between the two sides. The Fugitive Slave Law, which was put into place as part of a compromise, did not feel like a compromise to Northern abolitionists. This example shows the ever-progressing tensions between the two factions of American people.
Wilentz continues this trend into the following chapter, accurately titled The Truce Collapses. Continuing with the theme of the collapse of the Union into the Civil War, Wilentz ends this chapter by introducing the Dred Scott Supreme Court case, which is a major catalyst of the beginning of the Civil War.