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Those states attempted to extend slavery into the new Western territories to keep their share of political power in the nation; Southern leaders also wanted to annex Cuba to be used as a slave territory.The United States became polarized over the issue of slavery, represented by the slave and free states, in effect divided by the Mason–Dixon line which delineated (free) Pennsylvania from (slave) Maryland and Delaware.During and immediately following the Revolutionary War, abolitionist laws were passed in most Northern states and a movement developed to abolish slavery.

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Congress during the Jefferson administration prohibited the importation of slaves, effective 1808, although smuggling (illegal importing) via Spanish Florida was not unusual.

Domestic slave trading, however, continued at a rapid pace, driven by labor demands from the development of cotton plantations in the Deep South.

By 1850, the newly rich cotton-growing South was threatening to secede from the Union, and tensions continued to rise.

Many white Southern Christians, including church ministers, attempted to justify their support for slavery as modified by Christian paternalism.

The Spanish usually baptized slaves in Africa before embarking them.

As English custom then considered baptized Christians exempt from slavery, colonists treated these Africans as indentured servants, and they joined about 1,000 English indentured servants already in the colony.

But, in 1640, a Virginia court sentenced John Punch, an African, to slavery after he attempted to flee his service.

Slaves could be held if they were captives of war, if they sold themselves into slavery or were purchased from elsewhere, or if they were sentenced to slavery as punishment by the governing authority.

As the West was developed for settlement, the Southern state governments wanted to keep a balance between the number of slave and free states to maintain a political balance of power in Congress.

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