Causes of the Civil War Primary Sources
Historical documents. What clues can you gather about the time, place, players, and culture?
South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun's "Slavery as a Positive Good" speech, delivered before the U.S. Senate in February 1837.
View the full text of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, one of the most controversial laws passed before the outbreak of the Civil War.
A letter from Abraham Lincoln to a friend in which the political leader speaks about the controversial 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.
Excepts from Edmund Ruffin's proslavery essay, The Political Economy of Slavery; or, The Institution Considered in Regard to Its Influence on Public Wealth and the General Welfare, first published in 1853.
Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech, delivered in May 1856 during the Bloody Kansas crisis.
"Cotton is King," Senator James Henry Hammond's speech before the U.S. Senate on 4 March 1858.
The life, trial, and execution of John Brown, summarized by a New York publisher in 1859.
The Crittenden Compromise, a last-ditch effort to resolve the secession crisis, as presented on 18 December 1860.
The "Cornerstone Speech" delivered by Georgia Congressman Alexander Stephens—later Vice President of the Confederate States of America—in Savannah, Georgia on 21 March 1861.
Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign speech at the Cooper Institute in New York City, 27 February 1860.