Chapter 18 13 Themes
Renewing the Sectional Struggle
Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.
The over-arching theme of chapter 18 is that the nation again fell into sectional dispute over slavery and states’ rights.
- The main question facing the nation was, “Will new lands won from Mexico have slaves or be free?”
- The answer to the question was hammered out in the Compromise of 1850. It said California was to be free, popular sovereignty (the people decide) for the rest of the lands.
- A tougher fugitive slave law was a major concession to the South, but it wasn’t enforced. This angered the Southerners.
- The North—South rift was widened with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It repealed the Missouri Compromise which had kept the peace for a generation. In it’s place, popular sovereignty opened the Great Plains to potential slavery. Whereas the slave-land issue had been settled, now it was a big question mark.