The Colonial Period to the 1860s.

Major Event/Epoch in American History

Time Period/Date(s)

The description and Significance of the People/Event(s) to American History

1) The evolution of the institution of slavery from the Colonial Period to the 1860s.

From the 16th to 19th centuries

Slavery existed in the United States of America as a form of the slave labor. It was a legal institution in the North America for a period exceeding a century until 1776, when United States was founded. It continued in the South America, until the United States constitution was amended for the thirteenth time in 1865. This was after the American civil war. Virginia received its first group of slaves in 1619 which comprised of 20 slaves. Spanish colonies had established the practice as early as 1560’s. Most of the slaves were from the African descent. They were held by the whites, Native Americans, as well as the free blacks.

During this period, many children from mixed races were born because white men took advantage of the slave women. From the 16th to 19th centuries, there were almost 12 million slaves in America.

Slavery was a contentious issue in the American politics from 1770’s to 1860’s. It became a topic of debate in the drafting of the American constitution.

Slavery was the major issue that led to the civil war in America (Field, 1978).

2) The socio-cultural impact of the abolitionist movement including:

a) The effect of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

b) The Kansas-Nebraska Act

c) The Compromise of 1850

d) The Underground Railroad

From 1830’s until 1870.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a novel published in the Year 1852.

Kansas Nebraska was an act passed on 30 May, 1854.

The compromise took place on September,1850.

The abolitionist movement attempted to emancipate slaves, as well as end the racial segregation and discrimination. The Northern side was against slavery while the Southern side advocated for slavery so that they could get cheap labor from them. The Southern side claimed that the Northern was interfering with their cultures. This sparked off the civil war.

The effect of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

The novel was also commonly known as life among the lowly. This was the anti-slavery novel which written by an author Harriet Beecher Stowe. The novel played a critical role in creating a spirit for the civil American war. One of the major characters in the novel is Uncle Tom who is portrayed as a long suffering black slave. There are also important characters in the novel. The novel depicts the reality of slavery. It depicts that Christian love can help overcome destructive enslavement of human beings. The novel helped to fuel the abolitionist cause in 1850’s. It was a very popular novel that sold widely in the 19th century. The book had a great impact in the war. The author was inspired by literature as a form of social change (Williams, 2001).

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

This was an act that was passed on 30 May, 1854 by the U.S Congress. The main aim of the act was to give freedom to the people residing in the two territories of Nebraska as well as Kansas. They were given freedom to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery in their territories or nor to.

The Compromise of 1850

The compromise of 1850 comprised of five laws that were passed on September, 1850 and were aimed at dealing with the issue of slavery. Senator Henry Clay introduced a number of resolutions that attempted to seek a compromise and prevent crisis between the North and the South on January 29, 1850. The compromise ended in the amendment of the fugitive slave act and abolishment of the slave trade in Washington, D.C.

The Underground Railroad

Prior to 1860, America captured and enslaved African slaves. The African slaves commonly referred to as the fugitives used to work on the plantations of the Southern side. They used it as means to acquire freedom. Slaves constantly tried to escape from their owners. Attempt to escape or helping someone else to escape was dangerous as it attracted severe punishment or death. The Underground Railroad was a secret route that the slaves used to escape. The route was called so, because the slaves seemed to vanish as they went through the route. It consisted of a series of hiding places called stations.

3) The evolution of Sectionalism, including the cultural divide that developed between the North and the South; Southern Secession and its connection to the theme of “individualism.”

From 1861 to 1865.

The civil war is attributed to have been caused by various factors. Sectionalism was majorly the cause of the civil war in 1861-1865. Sectionalism is a situation in which the desires of the individual take precedence over the concerns and the interests of the greater whole. The situation was evident between the Southern and the Northern states which ultimately sparked off the civil war in the United States. The two sides were marked by various differences. The war therefore was the result of the two sides relentlessly refusing to concede to the other on certain matters. Such contentious issues among others included slavery. The Southern states economy was principally based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Slavery was common among these states. They used the slaves to work on their farms. This resulted in exploitation that was highly opposed by the Northern side. The economy of the Northern side was principally dependant on industries. (Macmillan, 1978).

The Northern side highly opposed the issue of slavery, and instead advocated for civil rights of the slaves. On the other hand, the Southern side required the slaves to work on their farms for surplus production. Abraham Lincoln, who was elected to be the president in 1860, had highly advocated for the practice of slavery to be abolished. The step of Abraham Lincoln sparked off fresh rivalries among the two sides and the Southern side started the secession of the confederate states which comprised of Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The disunity between the two sides led to the most deadly civil war ever experienced in U.S.A from 1861 to 1865. It left 624,000 deaths and 471,500 injured people.

4) The causes and consequences of the Civil War.

From 1861 to 1865.

Causes of the Civil War

There were numerous causes of the American civil war. One of the outstanding causes of the war was the occurrence of slavery in the United States especially in the Southern side. The division of economic domains between the Northern Americans and the Southern Americans was also a cause of the war. The economy of the Northern side was driven by industries. That of the Southern side was driven by agriculture. In the Southern side, they needed slaves to work in their fields. They therefore, supported the idea of slavery. Both sides were in opposition at the end of the day. The Northern states accused the slave states of undermining democracy. The Southern sides attacked the Northern states and accused the Northern side of interfering with their culture. During the time, Abraham Lincoln, from the Northern side, happened to emerge as the president of United States and defeated John C. Breckinridge, from the Southern side. (Walter, 1905). The stand of Lincoln was always a threat to the Southern states. His election was a major blow to them. Kansas in the period joined the Free states. The Southern side decided to form a confederacy (confederate states of America) headed by Jefferson Davis. The Southern residents always thought that the Northern people were against them. However, the war started when the confederate forces attacked the U.S military in South Carolina. This followed four years of brutal war. Millions of Americans died.


The American civil came to an end on the 9th April, 1865. The union defeated the other division. Over the few months that followed, the confederate forces surrendered. Lincoln under his capacity as commander in chief of the army issued the emancipation proclamation. This declared the freedom of all slaves in the confederate states of America. Millions of black slaves were freed after the emancipation. After the war was the reconstruction phase that came to an end in 1877.

The economic effects were largely in favor of the Northern side. Acts such as Morill Tariff of 1861 and the National Bank act of 1863, introduced after the war played a vital role in the development of the United States.

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