15 August 2014

Slave and Free States (US) Through History

The title of this post comes from a Wikipedia page by the same name, Slave and free states ...
In United States' history, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal at a particular point of time, and a free state was one in which slavery was prohibited at that point of time. The issue of slavery was one of the causes of the American Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865, abolished slavery throughout the United States, and the distinction ended.

Obviously, the status of a state was not stagnant.  As new territories and then states were created, their identification as a slave or free state initially took place.  In most cases, what was a slave territory became a slave state and the same held for free territories.

The most compelling feature of this webpage is the animated map showing the free/slaves status of U.S. states and territories, 1789-1861.  I did find it interesting to learn that between 1812 and 1850, there was a concerted effort in the Senate to maintain the balance of free and slave state votes.

If your ancestors were moving westward through time, this gives you some perspective on whether the state they moved to was considered a free or a slave state.  This might tell you something about your family – their choice of destination location (territory or state).

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