Western expansion set the North and South on a collision course. When the Missouri Compromise passed in 1820, Thomas Jefferson predicted that this decision would lead the Union into conflict. In the years that followed, the division over slavery became polarized and rancorous. Abolitionists lobbied for legislation, assisted runaways, and sponsored publication of the testimonies of African Americans who escaped bondage. In response, Southerners launched an elaborate defense of the institution. Some slaveholders struggled with the moral and economic dilemmas of slavery and, fearing the consequences of emancipation, devised a scheme to send freed men and women to Liberia. Two years after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin and created a sensation.
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