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America's History in the Making

Contested Territories

Theme 3

The struggle of incorporating new lands as states exacerbated existing sectionalist rivalries, leading to a series of political crises that culminated in the Civil War.

Westward expansion led to an increase in both slavery and sectionalism, issues that threatened to divide the nation ever since its founding. Southerners worried that an infusion of free states would tilt the balance of power in Congress as anti-slavery sentiment grew in the North. Northerners, meanwhile, were alarmed by Southern plans for adding slave states, and by the expansion of slavery into Texas and other parts of the Deep South. Yet, the majority of citizens living in most of the West strongly opposed slavery.

Primary Sources