In 1860, the slave population was distributed throughout the Deep South, and included the adjoining areas of East Texas, West Tennessee and North Florida. Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Virginia were also major slave-owning states. These states later formed the secessionist Confederate States of America in 1861, and were dependent on slave-labour to maintain high cotton yields, with cotton production critical to their economic interests. There were only a scattering of slaves in the new Kansas and Nebraska territories, where the legality of slave-ownership was still being debated. This was despite the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which decreed that new territories south of a line drawn from Missouri’s southern border were permitted to own slaves, while those north of the line were not. The northern states had abolished slavery, with New Jersey’s two slaves listed as ‘apprentices for life’. California was slave free, and declared a free state in 1850, while New Mexico had no recorded slaves, despite the Compromise of 1850 making slavery legal.
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