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Social Studies help for American History, Economics and AP Government. There are class notes, numerous Supreme Court case summaries and information on how to write a research paper inside.

Why was abolition of slavery so hard to achieve?

1. The North didn't care as much as you think they did.

Northern citizens who were actually abolitionists were few and far bewteen. In fact, even after the publishing of Uncle Tom's Cabin less then 1% of Northerners would have considered themselves actual aboltionists. The sad reality was that the only reason there were few slaves in the North was beacuse there was not a need for them and there was little economic advantage to owning them.

It should also be noted that many in the North made a profit as a result of slavery. It was Northern ships that carried the cotton grown by slaves and it was Northern ships that brought the slaves to America in the first place.

2. Passage of the Fugitive Slave Laws

In order to avoid a possible Civil War, the Northern states agreed to pass a national Fugitive Slave law. This made it illegal to help or shelter a runaway slave. While many in the North ignored the law, it shows that the North was not really serious about abolition.

3. Passage of Slave Codes

Laws like the Slave Codes which forbade the teaching of reading and writing to slaves. This prevented slaves from organizing and protesting.

4. Slaves were protected by the 5th Amendment

To take away the slave meant to take away the private property of southerners. Provate property is protected by the 5th Amendemnt of the Constitution and this was a law most were unwilling to break. No matter how absurd that seems to you today, it was true in 1850.

4. The north was unwilling to fight

There was little desire to push the issue as it seemed it might lead to war.


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