Chapter 14: Troubled Times: the Tumultuous 1850s

Key Terms

American Party
also called the Know-Nothing Party, a political party that emerged in 1856 with an anti-immigration platform
Bleeding Kansas
a reference to the violent clashes in Kansas between Free-Soilers and slavery supporters
border ruffians
proslavery Missourians who crossed the border into Kansas to influence the legislature
Compromise of 1850
five laws passed by Congress to resolve issues stemming from the Mexican Cession and the sectional crisis
Dred Scott v. Sandford
an 1857 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that Blacks could not be citizens and Congress had no jurisdiction to impede the expansion of slavery
radical southern secessionists
Free-Soil Party
a political party committed to ensuring that White laborers would not have to compete with unpaid enslaved people in newly acquired territories
Freeport Doctrine
a doctrine that emerged during the Lincoln-Douglas debates in which Douglas reaffirmed his commitment to popular sovereignty, including the right to halt the spread of slavery, despite the 1857 Dred Scott decision affirming slaveholders’ right to bring their property wherever they wished
Harpers Ferry
the site of a federal arsenal in Virginia, where radical abolitionist John Brown staged an ill-fated effort to end slavery by instigating a mass uprising among enslaved people
race-mixing through sexual relations or marriage
popular sovereignty
the principle of letting the people residing in a territory decide whether or not to permit slavery in that area based on majority rule
Republican Party
an antislavery political party formed in 1854 in response to Stephen Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act
Underground Railroad
a network of free Black and northern White people who helped enslaved people escape bondage through a series of designated routes and safe houses


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