The Civil War

The inevitability of the Civil War has been a much debated and unresolved topic. The late Texas historian T.R. Fehrenbach classified “the smoldering atmosphere of political crisis” in Texas as part of the larger social and economic crisis that was enveloping the United States. In your textbook, Teja writes that “the rancorous controversy over slavery . . . dominated public affairs.” In this essay, your assignment is to trace the importance of slavery in Texas history and its’ role leading to Civil War. Slavery gave Americans an economic advantage and helped to create a privileged class of plantation owners and political class. Discuss slavery in Texas during the period of Mexican rule. You should discuss the laws and policies concerning the institution, the special conditions that prevailed in Texas, and the extent to which slavery was practiced. What percentage of Texans owned slaves by the eve of the United States Civil War? What was the value of slaves in relationship to the value of farms? How did the border with Mexico effect runaway slaves? Which groups in Texas opposed slavery? How were they treated by pro-slavery supporters? Finally, Sam Houston was a major figure in the events of the late 1850s and 1860s until secession became an accomplished deed. Discuss his role in these years, explaining his ideas, and the reasons for his actions.

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