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FIGURE 14.1 InSouthern Chiv alry: Ar gument v ersus Club ’s(1856), b y John Mag ee, South Car olinian P restonBrooks attack s Mas sachuset ts senat or Charles Sumner aft er his speech denouncing “bor der ruffians” pouring int oKansas fr om Mis souri. F or southerners , def ending sla very meant def ending southern honor .
INTR ODUC TIONCHAP TER OUTLINE14.1 The Compr omise o f 185014.2 The K ansas -Nebr aska Act and the R epublican P arty14.3 The Dr ed Sc ott Decision and Sectional Strif e14.4 John Br own and the Election o f 1860
The he ated sectional c ontro versy between the N orth and the South re ache d new lev els o fintensity in the 1850s . Southerners and nor therners grew ev er more anta gonis tic as the y deb ated theexpansion o f sla very in the W est. The notorious c onfronta tion b etween R epresenta tive Preston Bro oks o f SouthCarolina and Mas sachuset ts sena tor Charles Sumner depicte d in the ima ge above (Figure 14.1 ), illus trates thecontempt b etween e xtremis ts on b oth sides . The “ Caning o f Sumner ” in Ma y 1856 f ollowed up on a sp eech
given b y Sumner tw o da ys earlier in which he c ondemne d sla very in no unc ertain terms , declaring:
“[Admit ting K ansas as a sla ve state] is the rap e of a virgin territor y, comp elling it to the ha teful embrac e ofslavery; and it ma y be cle arly trac ed to a depra ved longing f or a new sla ve state, the hideous o ffspring o f such acrime , in the hop e of adding to the p ower o f sla very in the na tional g overnment .” Sumner criticiz ed prosla verylegisla tors , particularly a ttacking a f ellow sena tor and rela tive of Preston Bro oks. Bro oks resp onde d by beatingSumner with a c ane, a thrashing tha t southerners c elebra ted as a manly def ense o f gentlemanly honor and14Troubled Times: the T umultuous
1850stheir w ay of life. The episo de highlights the violent clash b etween pro - and antisla very factions in the 1850s , aconflict tha t would ev entually le ad to the tra uma tic unra veling o f Americ an demo cracy and civil w ar.
14.1 The Compr omise of 1850LEARNING OBJEC TIVESBy the end o f this section, y ou wil l be able t o:
•Explain the c ontested is sues that led t o the Compr omise o f 1850•Describe and anal yze the r eactions t o the 1850 F ugitiv e Sla ve ActFIGURE 14.2At the end o f the Me xican-Americ an W ar, the Unite d Sta tes g aine d a larg e expanse o f western territor y kno wnas the Me xican C ession . The disp osition o f this new territor y was in ques tion; w ould the new s tates b e sla ve
states or free -soil s tates? In the long r un, the Me xican-Americ an W ar achiev ed wha t abolitionism alone hadfaile d to do: it mobiliz ed man y in the N orth a gains t sla very.
Antisla very nor therners clung to the ide a expres sed in the 1846 W ilmot P roviso: sla very would not e xpand intothe are as tak en, and la ter b ought , from Me xico. Though the pro viso remaine d a prop osal and nev er b ecame alaw, it define d the sectional division . The F ree-Soil P arty, which f orme d at the c onclusion o f the Me xican-Americ an W ar in 1848 and include d man y memb ers o f the faile d Lib erty Party, made this p osition thecenterpiec e of all its p olitic al activities , ensuring tha t the is sue o f sla very and its e xpansion remaine d at the
front and c enter o f Americ an p olitic al deb ate. Supp orters o f the W ilmot P roviso and memb ers o f the new F ree-Soil P arty did not w ant to a bolish sla very in the s tates where it alre ady e xisted; ra ther , Free-Soil adv ocatesdemande d tha t the w estern territories b e kept free o f sla very for the b enefit o f White la borers who might set tlethere . The y wante d to protect White w orkers from ha ving to c omp ete with sla ve labor in the W est.
(Abolitionis ts, in c ontras t, looked to des troy sla very ev erywhere in the Unite d Sta tes.) Southern e xtremis ts,especially w ealth y sla veholders , reacte d with outra ge at this eff ort to limit sla very’s expansion . The y argue d forthe right to bring their ensla ved prop erty w est, and the y vowed to le ave the Union if nec essary to protect theirway of life—me aning the right to ensla ve people —and ensure tha t the Americ an empire o f sla very wouldcontinue to gro w.
BROKERING THE COMPR OMISEThe is sue o f wha t to do with the w estern territories adde d to the republic b y the Mexican C ession consume dCongres s in 1850. Other c ontro versial ma tters , which had b een simmering o ver time , complic ated the problemfurther . Chief among these is sues w ere the sla ve trade in the Dis trict o f Columbia, which antisla very adv ocates354 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
hop ed to end , and the fugitiv e sla ve laws, which southerners w ante d to s trengthen . The b order b etween T exasand N ew Me xico remaine d contes ted because man y Texans hop ed to enlarg e their s tate fur ther , and , finally ,the is sue o f California had not b een resolv ed. California w as the cro wn jew el of the Me xican C ession , andfollowing the disc overy of gold, it w as flush with thousands o f emigrants . By mos t estima tes, however, it w ouldbe a free s tate, sinc e the f ormer Me xican b an on sla very still remaine d in f orce and sla very had not tak en ro ot
in C alifornia. The map b elow (Figure 14.3 ) sho ws the disp osition o f land b efore the 1850 c ompromise .
FIGURE 14.3 This map sho ws the s tates and t errit ories o f the Unit ed Stat es as the y were in 1849–1850. (cr edit“User:Golbe z”/Wikimedia Commons)The presidential election o f 1848 did lit tle to solv e the problems resulting from the Me xican C ession . Both theWhigs and the Demo crats attempte d to a void addres sing the is sue o f sla very publicly as much as p ossible . TheDemo crats nomina ted Lewis C ass of Michig an, a supp orter o f the ide a of popular so vereignty , or let ting the
people in the territories decide the is sue o f whether or not to p ermit sla very based on majority r ule. The Whigsnomina ted General Zachar y Taylor , a sla veholder from Louisiana, who had achiev ed na tional prominenc e as amilitar y hero in the Me xican-Americ an W ar. Taylor did not tak e a p ersonal s tand on an y issue and remaine dsilent throughout the c amp aign . The fle dgling F ree-Soil P arty put f orward f ormer president Mar tin V an B urenas their c andida te. The F ree-Soil P arty attracte d nor thern Demo crats who supp orted the W ilmot P roviso ,
northern Whigs who rejecte d Taylor b ecause he w as a sla veholder , former memb ers o f the Lib erty Party, andother a bolitionis ts.
Both the Whigs and the Demo crats ran diff erent c amp aigns in the N orth and South . In the N orth, all threeparties a ttempte d to win v oters with promises o f keeping the territories free o f sla very, while in the South ,Whigs and Demo crats promise d to protect sla very in the territories . For southern v oters , the sla veholderTaylor app eared the na tural choic e. In the N orth, the F ree-Soil P arty to ok v otes a way from Whigs andDemo crats and help ed to ensure T aylor ’s election in 1848.
As president , Taylor sought to defuse the sectional c ontro versy as much as p ossible , and , above all else , topreser ve the Union . Although T aylor w as b orn in V irginia b efore relo cating to K entucky and ensla ved morethan one hundre d people b y the la te 1840s , he did not push f or sla very’s expansion into the Me xican C ession .
However, the C alifornia Gold R ush made C alifornia ’s stateho od into an is sue demanding imme diate attention .
In 1849, a fter C alifornia residents adopte d a s tate constitution prohibiting sla very, President T aylor c alled onCongres s to admit C alifornia and N ew Me xico as free s tates, a mo ve tha t infuria ted southern def enders o fslavery who argue d for the right to bring their ensla ved prop erty wherev er the y chose . Taylor , who did notbeliev e sla very could flourish in the arid lands o f the Me xican C ession b ecause the clima te prohibite dplanta tion-s tyle farming , prop osed tha t the W ilmot P roviso b e applie d to the entire are a.
In C ongres s, Kentucky sena tor Henr y Cla y, a v eteran o f congres sional c onflicts , offered a series o f resolutionsaddres sing the lis t of issues rela ted to sla very and its e xpansion . Cla y’s resolutions c alled for the admis sion o fCalifornia as a free s tate; no res trictions on sla very in the res t of the Me xican C ession (a rejection o f the W ilmotProviso and the F ree-Soil P arty’s position); a b oundar y between N ew Me xico and T exas tha t did not e xpand14.1 • The Compr omise o f 1850 355Texas (an imp ortant ma tter, sinc e Texas allo wed sla very and a larg er T exas me ant more opp ortunities f or the
expansion o f sla very); payment o f outs tanding T exas debts from the Lone Star R epublic da ys; and the end o fthe sla ve trade ( but not o f sla very) in the na tion ’s capital , couple d with a more robus t federal fugitiv e sla ve law.
Clay presente d these prop osals as an omnibus bill , tha t is, one tha t would b e voted on its totality .
Clay’s prop osals ignite d a spirite d and angr y deb ate tha t las ted for eight months . The resolution c alling f orCalifornia to b e admit ted as a free s tate arouse d the wra th o f the a ged and de athly ill J ohn C . Calhoun , the elderstatesman f or the prosla very position . Calhoun , too sick to deliv er a sp eech , had his friend V irginia sena torJames Mason present his as sessment o f Cla y’s resolutions and the current s tate of sectional s trife.
In C alhoun ’s eyes, blame f or the s talema te fell squarely on the N orth, which s tood in the w ay of southern andAmeric an prosp erity b y limiting the z ones where sla very could flourish . Calhoun c alled for a vig orous f ederallaw to ensure tha t esc aped ensla ved people w ere returne d to their ensla vers. He also prop osed a c onstitutionalamendment sp ecifying a dual presidency —one o ffice tha t would represent the South and another f or theNorth—a sugg estion tha t hinte d at the p ossibility o f disunion . Calhoun ’s argument p ortrayed an emb attled
South fac ed with c ontinue d nor thern a ggres sion—a line o f reasoning tha t only fur there d the sectional divide .
Several da ys after Mason deliv ered Calhoun ’s sp eech , Mas sachuset ts sena tor Daniel W ebster c ountere dCalhoun in his “ Seventh o f March ” sp eech . Webster c alled for na tional unity , famously declaring tha t he sp oke“not as a Mas sachuset ts man , not as a N orthern man , but as an Americ an.” Webster ask ed southerners to endthre ats of disunion and re ques ted tha t the N orth stop anta gonizing the South b y harping on the W ilmotProviso . Lik e Calhoun , Webster also c alled for a new f ederal la w to ensure the return o f esc aped ensla ved
Webster’s eff orts to c ompromise le d man y abolitionis t symp athiz ers to roundly denounc e him as a traitor .
Whig sena tor W illiam H. Sew ard, who aspire d to b e president , declare d tha t sla very—which he characteriz edas inc omp atible with the as sertion in the Declara tion o f Indep endenc e tha t “all men are cre ated equal ”—wouldone da y be extinguishe d in the Unite d Sta tes. Sew ard’s sp eech , in which he in voked the ide a of a higher morallaw than the C onstitution , secure d his reputa tion in the Sena te as an adv ocate of abolition .
The sp eeches made in C ongres s were publishe d in the na tion ’s new spapers, and the Americ an public f ollowedthe deb ates with gre at interes t, anxious to le arn ho w the is sues o f the da y, esp ecially the p otential adv ance ofslavery, would b e resolv ed. Color ful rep orts of wrangling in C ongres s fur ther pique d public interes t. Indee d, itwas not unc ommon f or arguments to dev olve into fis tfights or w orse . One o f the mos t astonishing episo des o fthe deb ate occurre d in A pril 1850, when a quarrel er upte d between Mis souri Demo cratic sena tor Thomas Har t
Benton , who b y the time o f the deb ate had b ecome a critic o f sla very (despite b eing an ensla ver), andMississippi Demo cratic sena tor Henr y S. F oote. When the burly Benton app eared re ady to as sault F oote, theMississippi sena tor drew his pis tol ( Figure 14.4 ).
FIGURE 14.4 This 1850 print, Scene in Uncle Sam ’s Senat e, depicts Mis sissippi senat or Henr y S. F oote taking aimat Mis souri senat or Thomas Har t Bent on. In the print, Bent on declar es: “ Get out o f the w ay, and let the as sassin fir e!let the sc oundr el use his w eapon! I ha ve no arm ’s! I did not c ome her e to as sassinat e!” F oote responds , “I onl y356 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
meant t o def end m yself!” (cr edit: Libr ary of Congr ess)President T aylor and Henr y Cla y, whose resolutions had b egun the v erbal firew orks in the Sena te, had nopatienc e for e ach other . Cla y had long harb ored ambitions f or the White House , and , for his p art, Taylorresente d Cla y and disappro ved of his resolutions . With neither side willing to budg e, the g overnment s talle d onhow to resolv e the disp osition o f the Me xican C ession and the other is sues o f sla very. The drama only
incre ased when on J uly 4, 1850, P resident T aylor b ecame gra vely ill , rep ortedly a fter e ating an e xcessiveamount o f fruit w ashe d do wn with milk . He die d fiv e da ys later, and V ice President Millard F illmore b ecamepresident . Unlik e his pre decessor, who man y believ ed would b e opp osed to a c ompromise , Fillmore w orkedwith C ongres s to achiev e a solution to the crisis o f 1850.
In the end , Cla y stepp ed do wn as le ader o f the c ompromise eff ort in fr ustration , and Illinois sena tor StephenDouglas pushe d fiv e sep arate bills through C ongres s, collectiv ely c omp osing the C ompromise o f 1850. F irst, asadvocated by the South , Congres s passed the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act, a la w tha t pro vide d federal mone y—or“bounties” —to sla ve-catchers . Sec ond , to b alanc e this c oncession to the South , Congres s admit ted California asa free s tate, a mo ve tha t cheere d antisla very adv ocates and a bolitionis ts in the N orth. Third , Congres s set tled
the c ontes ted boundar y between N ew Me xico and T exas b y favoring N ew Me xico and not allo wing f or anenlarg ed Texas, another outc ome ple asing to the N orth. In return , the f ederal g overnment p aid the debts T exashad incurre d as an indep endent republic . Fourth, antisla very adv ocates w elcome d Congres s’s ban on the sla vetrade in W ashington , DC, although sla very continue d to thriv e in the na tion ’s capital . Finally , on the thorn yissue o f whether sla very would e xpand into the territories , Congres s avoide d making a direct decision and
instead relie d on the principle o f popular so vereignty . This put the onus on residents o f the territories todecide f or themselv es whether to allo w sla very. Popular so vereignty f ollowed the logic o f Americ an demo cracy;majorities in e ach territor y would decide the territor y’s laws. The c ompromise , however, fur ther e xposed thesectional divide as v otes on the bills divide d along s trict regional lines .
Mos t Americ ans bre athed a sigh o f relief o ver the de al brok ered in 1850, cho osing to b eliev e it had sa ved theUnion . Rather than resolving divisions b etween the N orth and the South , however, the c ompromise s tood as atruce in an other wise white -hot sectional c onflict . Tensions in the na tion remaine d extremely high; indee d,southerners held sev eral c onventions a fter the c ompromise to discus s ways to protect the South . At thesemeetings , extremis ts who c alled for sec ession f ound themselv es in the minority , sinc e mos t southerners
commit ted themselv es to s taying in the Union—but only if sla very remaine d in the s tates where it alre adyexisted, and if no eff ort was made to blo ck its e xpansion into are as where citiz ens w ante d it, thereb y applyingthe ide a of popular so vereignty ( Figure 14.5 ).
FIGURE 14.5 This map sho ws the s tates and t errit ories o f the Unit ed Stat es as the y were from 1850 t o Mar ch 1853.
(credit “User:Golbe z”/Wikimedia Commons)THE FUGITIVE SLA VE A CT AND ITS CONSEQUENCESThe hop e tha t the C ompromise o f 1850 w ould resolv e the sectional crisis pro ved shor t-lived when the F ugitiv e14.1 • The Compr omise o f 1850 357Slave Act turne d into a major sourc e of conflict . The f ederal la w imp osed he avy fines and prison sentenc es onnortherners and midw esterners who aide d those who had esc aped their c aptivity or refuse d to join p osses to
catch free dom-seek ers. Man y nor therners f elt the la w forced them to act as sla ve-catchers a gains t their will .
The la w also es tablishe d a new group o f federal c ommis sioners who w ould decide the fa te of free dom-seek ersbrought b efore them . In some ins tanc es, sla ve-catchers ev en brought in free nor thern Black p eople , promptingabolitionis t societies to s tep up their eff orts to prev ent kidnappings ( Figure 14.6 ). The c ommis sioners had afinancial inc entiv e to send rec apture d ensla ved and free Black p eople to the sla veholding South , sinc e the yreceived ten dollars f or ev ery Afric an Americ an sent to the South and only fiv e if the y decide d the p erson who
came b efore them w as actually free . The c ommis sioners use d no juries , and the alleg ed runa ways could nottestify in their o wn def ense .
FIGURE 14.6 This 1851 pos ter, writ ten b y Bos ton abolitionis t Theodor e Parker, warned that an y Black person, fr eeor ensla ved, risk ed kidnapping b y sla ve-cat chers .
The op eration o f the la w fur ther alarme d nor therners and c onfirme d for man y the e xistenc e of a “ SlavePower”—tha t is, a minority o f elite sla veholders who wielde d a disprop ortiona te amount o f power o ver thefederal g overnment , shaping domes tic and f oreign p olicies to suit their interes ts. Despite southerners’repeated insis tenc e on s tates’ rights , the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act sho wed tha t sla veholders w ere willing to use thepower o f the f ederal g overnment to b end p eople in other s tates to their will . While rejecting the use o f federal
power to res trict the e xpansion o f sla very, prosla very southerners turne d to the f ederal g overnment to protectand promote the ins titution o f sla very.
The actual numb er o f free dom-seek ers who w ere not c apture d within a y ear o f esc aping remaine d very low,perhaps no more than one thousand p er year in the e arly 1850s . Mos t stayed in the South , hiding in plain sightamong free Black p eople in urb an are as. Nonetheles s, southerners f eared the influenc e of a v astUnder groundRailro ad: the netw ork o f nor thern White and free Black p eople who s ymp athiz ed with esc apees and pro vide dsafe houses and sa fe passage from the South . Quak ers, who had long b een trouble d by sla very, were esp ecially
activ e in this netw ork. It is uncle ar ho w man y ensla ved people esc aped through the Underground Railro ad, buthistorians b eliev e tha t between 50,000 and 100,000 use d the netw ork in their bids f or free dom . Me anwhile ,the 1850 F ugitiv e Sla ve Act gre atly incre ased the p erils o f being c apture d. For man y thousands o f free dom-seek ers, esc aping the Unite d Sta tes c ompletely b y going to southern Ontario , Canada, where sla very had b eenabolishe d, offered the b est chanc e of a b etter lif e beyond the re ach o f sla veholders .
Harriet T ubman , one o f the thousands o f ensla ved people who made their esc ape through the Underground358 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
Railro ad, dis tinguishe d herself f or her eff orts in helping other ensla ved men and w omen esc ape. Born a sla vein Mar yland around 1822, T ubman , who suff ered gre atly under sla very but f ound solac e in Chris tianity , madeher esc ape in the la te 1840s . She returne d to the South more than a do zen times to le ad other ensla ved people ,including her family and friends , along the Underground Railro ad to free dom .
Harriet T ubman: An American Moses?
Harriet T ubman ( Figure 14.7 ) was a leg endar y fig ure in her o wn time and be yond. An escaped ensla ved personherself , she r eturned t o the South thir teen times t o help o ver thr ee hundr ed other fr eedom-seek ers thr ough theUnder ground R ailroad t o liber ty in the Nor th. In 1869, print er Wil liam J . Moses published Sar ah H. Br adford’sScenes in the Lif e of Harriet T ubman . Bradford was a writ er and biogr apher who had kno wn T ubman ’s famil y foryears . The e xcerpt belo w is fr om the beginning o f her book, which she updat ed in 1886 under the title Harriet,
the Moses o f Her P eople .
FIGURE 14.7 This ful l-length por trait o f Harriet T ubman hangs in the National P ortrait Gal lery of theSmithsonian.
“It is pr oposed in this lit tle book t o giv e a plain and un varnished ac count o f some sc enes and adv entur es in thelife of a w oman who , though one o f ear th’s lowly ones , and o f dark -hued skin, has sho wn an amount o f her oism inher char acter rarely pos sessed b y those o f any station in lif e. Her name (w e sa y it advisedl y and withoutexaggeration) deser ves to be handed do wn t o pos terity side b y side with the names o f Joan o f Arc, Gr ace Darling ,and Flor ence Nighting ale; f or not one o f these w omen has sho wn mor e courage and po wer of endur ance in facing
dang er and death t o relieve human suff ering , than has this w oman in her her oic and suc cessful endea vors t oreach and sa ve all whom she might o f her oppr essed and suff ering r ace, and t o pilot them fr om the land o fBondag e to the pr omised land o f Liber ty. Well has she been cal led “Moses ,” for she has been a leader anddeliv erer unt o hundr eds o f her people .
—Sarah H. Br adford,Scenes in the Lif e of Harriet T ubman ”How does Br adford char acterize Tubman? What lang uage does Br adford use t o tie r eligion int o the fight f orfreedom?DEFINING AMERICAN14.1 • The Compr omise o f 1850 359The F ugitiv e Sla ve Act pro voked widespre ad re actions in the N orth. Some a bolitionis ts, such as F rederickDouglas s, believ ed tha t standing up a gains t the la w nec essitated violenc e. In Bos ton and elsewhere ,
abolitionis ts trie d to protect fugitiv es from f ederal a uthorities . One c ase in volved Anthon y Burns , who hadescaped sla very in V irginia in 1853 and made his w ay to Bos ton ( Figure 14.8 ). When f ederal o fficials arres tedBurns in 1854, a bolitionis ts staged a series o f mas s demons trations and a c onfronta tion a t the c ourthouse .
Despite their b est eff orts, however, Burns w as returne d to V irginia when P resident F ranklin Pierc e supp ortedthe F ugitiv e Sla ve Act with f ederal tro ops. Bos ton a bolitionis ts ev entually b ought B urns’ s free dom . For man ynortherners , however, the B urns incident , combine d with Pierc e’s resp onse , only amplifie d their sense o f aconspiracy o f southern p ower.
FIGURE 14.8 Anthon y Burns , drawn ca . 1855 b y an ar tist identified onl y as “Barr y,” sho ws a por trait o f thefreedom-seek er surr ounded b y scenes fr om his lif e, including his escape fr om Vir ginia , his arr est in Bos ton, and hisaddr ess to the c ourt.
The mos t conse quential re action a gains t the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act came in the f orm o f a no vel,Uncle T om’s Cabin.
In it , author Harriet Beecher Sto we, born in C onnecticut , made use o f ensla ved people ’s stories she had he ardfirsthand a fter marr ying and mo ving to Ohio , then on the c ountr y’s western frontier . Her no vel firs t app earedas a series o f stories in a F ree-Soil new spaper, the National Era , in 1851 and w as publishe d as a b ook thefollowing y ear. Sto we told the tale o f ensla ved people who w ere sold b y their K entucky ensla ver. While UncleTom is indee d sold do wn the riv er, young Eliza esc apes with her b aby (Figure 14.9 ). The s tory highlighte d the
idea tha t sla very was a sin b ecause it des troyed families , ripping children from their p arents and husb andsand wiv es from one another . Sto we also emphasiz ed the w ays in which sla very corrupte d White citiz ens. Thecruelty o f some o f the no vel’s White sla veholders ( who g enuinely b eliev e tha t ensla ved people don ’t feel thingsthe w ay tha t White p eople do) and the br utality o f the sla ve de aler Simon Legree , who b eats ensla ved peopleand se xually e xploits an ensla ved woman , demons trate the dehumanizing eff ect o f the ins titution ev en on
those who b enefit from it .360 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
FIGURE 14.9 This dr awing fr omUncle T om’s Cabin , cap tioned “Eliza c omes t o tell Uncle T om that he is sold, andthat she is running a way to sa ve her child, ” illustrates the w ays in which Harriet Beecher St owe’s antisla very no velbols tered abolitionis ts’ ar guments ag ains t sla very.
Stowe’s no vel pro ved a r una way bestseller and w as the mos t-read no vel of the nineteenth c entur y, inspiringmultiple the atrical pro ductions and music al comp ositions . It w as transla ted into sixty langua ges and remainsin print to this da y. Its mes sage about the evils o f sla very help ed convinc e man y nor therners o f therighteousnes s of the c ause o f abolition . The no vel also demons trated the p ower o f women to shap e publicopinion . Sto we and other Americ an w omen b eliev ed the y had a moral oblig ation to mold the c onscienc e of the
Unite d Sta tes, even though the y could not v ote ( Figure 14.10 ).
FIGURE 14.10 This phot ograph sho ws Harriet Beecher St owe, the author o fUncle T om’s Cabin , in 1852. St owe’swork w as an inspir ation not onl y to abolitionis ts, but also t o those who belie ved that w omen c ould pla y a significantrole in upholding the nation ’s mor ality and shaping public opinion.
CLICK AND EXPL OREVisit the Documenting the Americ an South ( offin) collection on the Univ ersity o fNorth C arolina a t Chap el Hill w ebsite to re ad the memoirs o f Levi C offin, a prominent Quak er a bolitionis t whowas kno wn as the “president ” of the Underground Railro ad for his activ e role in helping ensla ved people tofree dom . The memoirs include the s tory of Eliza Harris , which inspire d Harriet Beecher Sto we’s famous
The b acklash a gains t the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act, fuele d byUncle T om’s Cabin and w ell-publiciz ed cases lik e tha t of14.1 • The Compr omise o f 1850 361Anthon y Burns , also f ound e xpres sion in p ersonal lib erty la ws passed by eight nor thern s tate legisla tures .
These la ws emphasiz ed tha t the s tate w ould pro vide leg al protection to an y arres ted free dom seek ers(including the right to trial b y jur y). The p ersonal lib erty la ws stood as a cle ar-cut e xample o f the N orth’s use o fstates’ rights in opp osition to f ederal p ower while pro viding fur ther evidenc e to southerners tha t nor thernershad no resp ect f or the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act or sla veholders’ prop erty rights .
CLICK AND EXPL OREGo to an archiv ed page from the Michig an Dep artment o f Natural R esourc es( reedom) site to re ad the original te xt of Michig an’s 1855 p ersonal lib erty la ws. Ho w do these la ws refutethe pro visions o f the f ederal F ugitiv e Sla ve Act of 1850?
14.2 The K ansas-Nebr ask a Act and the R epublican P artyLEARNING OBJEC TIVESBy the end o f this section, y ou wil l be able t o:
•Explain the political r amifications o f the K ansas -Nebr aska Act•Describe the f ounding o f the R epublican P artyIn the e arly 1850s , the Unite d Sta tes’ sectional crisis had a bated somewha t, cooled by the C ompromise o f 1850and the na tion ’s general prosp erity . In 1852, v oters w ent to the p olls in a presidential c ontes t between Whigcandida te W infield Sc ott and Demo cratic c andida te Franklin Pierc e. Both men endorse d the C ompromise o f
1850. Though it w as c onsidere d unseemly to hit the c amp aign trail , Scott did so —much to the b enefit o f Pierc e,as Sc ott’s sp eeches f ocuse d on f orty-year-old b attles during the W ar o f 1812 and the w eather . In N ew Y ork,Scott, kno wn as “ Old F uss and F eathers ,” talk ed about a thunders torm tha t did not o ccur and gre atly c onfuse dthe cro wd. In Ohio , a c annon firing to herald Sc ott’s arriv al kille d a sp ecta tor.
Pierc e was a supp orter o f the “ Young Americ a” mo vement o f the Demo cratic P arty, which enthusias ticallyanticip ated extending demo cracy around the w orld and anne xing additional territor y for the Unite d Sta tes.
Pierc e did not tak e a s tanc e on the sla very issue. Help ed by Sc ott’s blunders and the fact tha t he had pla yed norole in the br uising p olitic al battles o f the p ast fiv e years, Pierc e won the election . The brief p erio d oftranquility b etween the N orth and South did not las t long , however; it c ame to an end in 1854 with the p assageof the K ansas -Nebraska A ct. This act le d to the f orma tion o f a new p olitic al party, the R epublic an P arty, tha tcommit ted itself to ending the fur ther e xpansion o f sla very.
THE K ANSAS-NEBRASK A A CTThe rela tive calm o ver the sectional is sue w as brok en in 1854 o ver the is sue o f sla very in the territor y ofKansas . Pressure had b een building among nor therners to org aniz e the territor y west of Mis souri and Io wa,which had b een admit ted to the Union as a free s tate in 1846. This pres sure c ame primarily from nor thernfarmers , who w ante d the f ederal g overnment to sur vey the land and put it up f or sale . Promoters o f a
transc ontinental railro ad w ere also pushing f or this w estward e xpansion .
Southerners , however, had long opp osed the W ilmot P roviso ’s stipula tion tha t sla very should not e xpand intothe W est. By the 1850s , man y in the South w ere also gro wing resentful o f the Mis souri C ompromise o f 1820,which es tablishe d the 36° 30' p arallel as the g eographic al boundar y of sla very on the nor th-south axis .
Prosla very southerners no w contende d tha t popular so vereignty should apply to all territories , not jus t Utahand N ew Me xico. The y argue d for the right to bring their ensla ved prop erty wherev er the y chose .
Attitudes to ward sla very in the 1850s w ere represente d by a v ariety o f regional factions . For three dec ades , theabolitionis ts remaine d a minority , but the y had a signific ant eff ect on Americ an so ciety b y bringing the evils o fslavery into the public c onsciousnes s. In 1840, the Lib erty Party w as the firs t politic al org aniza tion tocamp aign f or a bolition . This group sought to w ork within the e xisting p olitic al system , a s trategy Garrison andothers rejecte d. Me anwhile , the F ree-Soil P arty commit ted itself to ensuring tha t White la borers w ould find362 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850s
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work in newly ac quire d territories and not ha ve to c omp ete with unp aid ensla ved people . By the 1850s , someabolitionis ts adv ocated the use o f violenc e agains t sla veholders .
It is imp ortant to note tha t, even among those who opp osed the e xpansion o f sla very in the W est, very diff erentattitudes to ward sla very existed. Some antisla very nor therners w ante d the W est to b e the b est countr y for p oorWhite p eople to g o and seek opp ortunity . The y did not w ant White w orkers to ha ve to c omp ete with sla ve labor,a contes t tha t the y believ ed deme aned White la bor. Radic al abolitionis ts, in c ontras t, envisione d the end o f allslavery, and a so ciety o f equality b etween Black and White p eople . Others opp osed sla very in principle , but
believ ed tha t the b est appro ach w as c oloniza tion; tha t is, set tling free d ensla ved people in a c olon y in Afric a.
The gro wing p olitic al mo vement to addres s the is sue o f sla very stiffened the resolv e of southern sla veholdersto def end themselv es and their so ciety a t all c osts. Prohibiting sla very’s expansion , the y argue d, ran c ounter tobasic Americ an prop erty rights . As a bolitionis ts fanne d the flames o f antisla very sentiment , southernerssolidifie d their def ense o f their enormous in vestment in human cha ttel. Acros s the c ountr y, people o f allpolitic al stripes w orrie d tha t the na tion ’s arguments w ould c ause irrep arable rifts in the c ountr y (Figure
FIGURE 14.11 In this 1850 political car toon, the ar tist tak es aim at abolitionis ts, the F ree-Soil P arty, Southernstates’ rights activis ts, and others he belie ves risk the heal th of the Union.
As these diff erent factions w ere a gita ting f or the set tlement o f Kansas and N ebraska, le aders o f the Demo craticParty in 1853 and 1854 sought to bind their p arty tog ether in the a fterma th o f intrap arty fights o ver thedistribution o f patrona ge jobs . Illinois Demo cratic sena tor Stephen Douglas b eliev ed he had f ound asolution—the Kansas -Nebraska bill —tha t would promote p arty unity and also sa tisfy his c olleagues from theSouth , who detes ted the Mis souri C ompromise line . In J anuar y 1854, Douglas intro duced the bill ( Figure
14.12 ). The act cre ated tw o territories: K ansas , directly w est of Mis souri; and N ebraska, w est of Iowa. The actalso applie d the principle o f popular so vereignty , dicta ting tha t the p eople o f these territories w ould decide f orthemselv es whether to adopt sla very. In a c oncession cr ucial to man y southerners , the prop osed bill w ould alsorepeal the 36° 30' line from the Mis souri C ompromise . Douglas hop ed his bill w ould incre ase his p olitic alcapital and pro vide a s tep f orward on his ques t for the presidency . Douglas also w ante d the territor y org aniz ed
in hop es o f placing the e astern terminus o f a transc ontinental railro ad in Chic ago, rather than St . Louis or N ewOrle ans.14.2 • The K ansas-Nebr aska Act and the R epublican P arty 363FIGURE 14.12 This 1855 map sho ws the ne w territ ories o f Kansas and Nebr aska, complet e with pr oposed r outes o fthe tr ansc ontinental r ailroad.
After he ated deb ates, Congres s narro wly p assed the K ansas -Nebraska A ct. (In the House o f Representa tives,the bill p assed by a mere three v otes: 113 to 110.) This mo ve had major p olitic al conse quenc es. The Demo cratsdivide d along sectional lines as a result o f the bill , and the Whig p arty, in decline in the e arly 1850s , found itspolitic al power slipping fur ther . Mos t imp ortant , the K ansas -Nebraska A ct gave rise to the Republic an P arty, anew p olitic al party tha t attracte d nor thern Whigs , Demo crats who shunne d the K ansas -Nebraska A ct,
memb ers o f the F ree-Soil P arty, and as sorted abolitionis ts. Indee d, with the f orma tion o f the R epublic an P arty,the F ree-Soil P arty ceased to e xist.
The new R epublic an P arty ple dged itself to prev enting the spre ad o f sla very into the territories and raile dagains t the Sla ve Power, infuria ting the South . As a result , the p arty became a solidly nor thern p olitic alorganiza tion . As nev er b efore, the U .S. p olitic al system w as p olariz ed along sectional fa ult lines .
BLEEDING K ANSASIn 1855 and 1856, pro - and antisla very activis ts flo oded Kansas with the intention o f influencing the p opular -sovereignty r ule o f the territories . Prosla very Mis sourians who cros sed the b order to v ote in K ansas b ecamekno wn as border r uffians ; these g aine d the adv anta ge by winning the territorial elections , mos t lik ely throughvoter fra ud and illeg al vote c ounting . (By some es tima tes, up to 60 p ercent o f the v otes c ast in K ansas w ere
fraudulent .) Onc e in p ower, the prosla very legisla ture , meeting a t Lec ompton , Kansas , dra fted a prosla veryconstitution kno wn as the Lec ompton C onstitution . It w as supp orted by President B uchanan , but opp osed byDemo cratic Sena tor Stephen A . Douglas o f Illinois .
The Lecompton ConstitutionKansas w as home t o no f ewer than f our s tate constitutions in its earl y years . Its firs t constitution, the T opek aCons titution, w ould ha ve made K ansas a fr ee-soil s tate. A pr osla very legislatur e, however, created the 1857Lecomp ton Cons titution t o enshrine the ins titution o f sla very in the ne w Kansas -Nebr aska territ ories . In Januar y1858, K ansas v oters def eated the pr oposed L ecomp ton Cons titution, e xcerpted belo w, with an o verwhelming
margin o f 10,226 t o 138.DEFINING AMERICAN364 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
“ARTICLE VII.— SLAVER YSECT ION 1. The right o f proper ty is bef ore and higher than an y constitutional sanction, and the right o f the o wnerof a sla ve to such sla ve and its incr ease is the same and as in violable as the right o f the o wner o f any proper tywhat ever.
SEC. 2. The L egislatur e shal l have no po wer to pas s laws for the emancipation o f sla ves without the c onsent o fthe o wners , or without pa ying the o wners pr evious t o their emancipation a ful l equiv alent in mone y for the sla vesso emancipat ed. The y shal l have no po wer to prevent immigr ants t o the Stat e from bringing with them suchpersons as ar e deemed sla ves b y the la ws of any one o f the Unit ed Stat es or T errit ories , so long as an y person o fthe same ag e or descrip tion shal l be c ontinued in sla very by the la ws of this Stat e: Provided, That such person or
slave be the bona fide pr oper ty of such immigr ants .”How ar e "sla ves" defined in the 1857 K ansas c onstitution? Ho w does this c onstitution saf eguard the rights o fslaveholders?
The majority in K ansas , however, were F ree-Soilers who seethe d at the b order r uffians’ c o-opting o f thedemo cratic pro cess (Figure 14.13 ). Man y had c ome from N ew England to ensure a numeric al adv anta ge overthe b order r uffians . The N ew England Emigrant Aid So ciety , a nor thern antisla very group , help ed fund theseefforts to halt the e xpansion o f sla very into K ansas and b eyond .
FIGURE 14.13 This ful l-pag e edit orial r an in the F ree-Soiler Kansas T ribune on Sep tember 15, 1855, the da yKansas’ Act t o Punish Off ences ag ains t Sla ve Proper ty of 1855 w ent int o eff ect. This la w made it punishable b ydeath t o aid or abet a fugitiv e sla ve, and it cal led f or punishment o f no les s than tw o years f or an yone who might:
“print, publish, writ e, circulat e, or cause t o be intr oduc ed int o this T errit ory . . . [an y mat erials] . . . c ontaining an ydenial o f the right o f persons t o hold sla ves in this T errit ory.”CLICK AND EXPL OREGo to the K ansas His toric al So ciety ’sKansap edia( onst)to re ad the f our diff erentstate constitutions tha t Kansas had during its e arly y ears as a Unite d Sta tes T erritor y. Wha t can y ou de duce
about the a uthors o f each c onstitution?
In 1856, clashes b etween antisla very Free-Soilers and b order r uffians c ame to a he ad in La wrenc e, Kansas .
The to wn had b een f ounde d by the N ew England Emigrant Aid So ciety , which funde d antisla very set tlement inthe territor y and w ere determine d tha t Kansas should b e a free -soil s tate. Prosla very emigrants from Mis souriwere e qually determine d tha t no “ abolitionis t tyrants” or “negro thiev es” w ould c ontrol the territor y. In the14.2 • The K ansas-Nebr aska Act and the R epublican P arty 365spring o f 1856, sev eral o f Lawrenc e’s leading antisla very citiz ens w ere indicte d for tre ason , and f ederalmarshal Israel Donaldson c alled for a p osse to help mak e arres ts. He did not ha ve trouble finding v olunteers
from Mis souri . When the p osse, which include d Douglas C ounty sheriff Samuel J ones , arriv ed outsideLawrenc e, the antisla very town’s “commit tee o f safety” agree d on a p olicy o f nonresis tanc e. Mos t of those whowere indicte d fle d. Donaldson arres ted tw o men without incident and dismis sed the p osse.
However, Jones , who had b een shot during an e arlier c onfronta tion in the to wn, did not le ave. On Ma y 21,falsely claiming tha t he had a c ourt order to do so , Jones to ok c ommand o f the p osse and ro de into to wn arme dwith rifles , rev olvers, cutlas ses and b owie kniv es. At the he ad o f the pro cession , two fla gs flew: an Americ anflag and a fla g with a crouching tig er. Other b anners f ollowed, bearing the w ords “ Southern rights” and “ TheSup eriority o f the White Rac e.” In the re ar w ere fiv e ar tiller y piec es, which w ere dra gged to the c enter o f town.
The p osse smashe d the pres ses o f the tw o new spapers,Herald o f Freedom and the Kansas F ree Sta te, andburne d do wn the deser ted Free Sta te Hotel ( Figure 14.14 ). When the p osse finally left , Lawrenc e residentsfound themselv es unharme d but terrifie d.
The ne xt morning , a man name d John Bro wn and his sons , who w ere on their w ay to pro vide La wrenc e withreinf orcements , heard the new s of the a ttack . Bro wn, a s trict , Go d-fearing C alvinis t and s taunch a bolitionis t,once remark ed tha t “God had raise d him up on purp ose to bre ak the ja ws of the wick ed.” Disapp ointe d tha t thecitiz ens o f Lawrenc e did not resis t the “ slave hounds” o f Mis souri , Bro wn opte d not to g o to La wrenc e, but tothe homes o f prosla very set tlers ne ar P ottawatomie C reek in K ansas . The group o f sev en, including Bro wn’s
four sons , arriv ed on Ma y 24, 1856, and announc ed the y were the “N orthern Arm y” tha t had c ome to ser vejustice. The y burs t into the c abin o f prosla very Tennes sean J ames Do yle and marche d him and tw o of his sonsoff, sp aring the y oung est at the desp erate re ques t of Do yle’s wif e, Mahala. One hundre d yards do wn the ro ad,Owen and Salmon Bro wn hack ed their c aptiv es to de ath with bro adswords and J ohn Bro wn shot a bullet intoDoyle’s forehe ad. Bef ore the night w as done , the Bro wns visite d tw o more c abins and br utally e xecute d tw o
other prosla very set tlers . None o f those e xecute d ensla ved an y people or had had an ything to do with the raidon La wrenc e.
Brown’s actions precipita ted a new w ave of violenc e. All told , the guerilla w arfare b etween prosla very “b orderruffians” and antisla very forces, which w ould c ontinue and ev en esc alate during the Civil W ar, resulte d in o ver150 de aths and signific ant prop erty los s. The ev ents in K ansas ser ved as an e xtreme reply to Douglas’ sprop osition o f popular so vereignty . As the violent clashes incre ased, Kansas b ecame kno wn as “ Blee dingKansas .” Antisla very adv ocates’ use o f force carved out a new direction f or some who opp osed sla very.
Distancing themselv es from W illiam Llo yd Garrison and other p acifis ts, Bro wn and f ellow abolitionis tsbeliev ed the time had c ome to fight sla very with violenc e.
FIGURE 14.14 This undat ed imag e sho ws the aft ermath o f the sacking o f Lawrence, Kansas , by bor der ruffians .
Shown ar e the ruins o f the F ree Stat e Hot el.
The violent hos tilities as sociated with Blee ding K ansas w ere not limite d to K ansas itself. It w as the c ontro versyover K ansas tha t prompte d the c aning o f Charles Sumner , intro duced at the b eginning o f this chapter with the366 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
politic al cartoonSouthern Chiv alry: Argument v ersus Club ’s(Figure 14.1 ). Note the title o f the c artoon; itlamp oons the southern ide al of chiv alry, the c ode o f behavior tha t Preston Bro oks b eliev ed he w as following inhis a ttack on Sumner . In Sumner ’s “Crime a gains t Kansas” sp eech he w ent much fur ther than p olitics , fillinghis v erbal attack with allusions to se xuality b y singling out f ellow sena tor Andrew B utler from South C arolina, azealous supp orter o f sla very and Bro oks’ s uncle . Sumner insulte d Butler b y comp aring sla very to pros titution ,
declaring , “Of c ourse he [B utler] has chosen a mis tres s to whom he has made his v ows, and who , though ugly toothers , is alw ays lovely to him; though p ollute d in the sight o f the w orld , is chas te in his sight . I me an the harlotSlavery.” Bec ause B utler w as a ged, it w as his nephew , Bro oks, who sought sa tisfaction f or Sumner ’s attack onhis family and southern honor . Bro oks did not challeng e Sumner to a duel; b y cho osing to b eat him with a c aneinstead, he made it cle ar tha t he did not c onsider Sumner a g entleman . Man y in the South rejoic ed over
Brooks’ s def ense o f sla very, southern so ciety , and family honor , sending him hundre ds o f canes to replac e theone he had brok en as saulting Sumner . The a ttack b y Bro oks left Sumner inc apacita ted ph ysically and mentallyfor a long p erio d of time . Despite his injuries , the p eople o f Mas sachuset ts reelecte d him .
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELEC TION OF 1856The electoral c ontes t in 1856 to ok plac e in a trans forme d politic al landsc ape. A third p olitic al party app eared:
the anti-immigrant Americ an P arty, a formerly secretiv e org aniza tion with the nickname “ the K now-N othingParty” because its memb ers denie d kno wing an ything a bout it . By 1856, the Americ an or K now-N othing P artyhad ev olved into a na tional f orce commit ted to halting fur ther immigra tion . Its memb ers w ere esp eciallyopp osed to the immigra tion o f Irish C atholics , whose lo yalty to the P ope, the y believ ed, preclude d their lo yaltyto the Unite d Sta tes. On the W est Coast, the y opp osed the entr y of immigrant la borers from China, who w ere
thought to b e too foreign to ev er as simila te into a White Americ a.
The election also f eature d the new R epublic an P arty, which o ffered John C . Fremont as its c andida te.
Republic ans ac cuse d the Demo crats of trying to na tionaliz e sla very through the use o f popular so vereignty inthe W est, a view c apture d in the 1856 p olitic al cartoonForcing Sla very Do wn the Thro at of a F ree Soiler (Figure14.15 ). The c artoon f eatures the ima ge of a F ree-Soiler set tler tie d to the Demo cratic P arty pla tform whileSena tor Douglas (a uthor o f the K ansas -Nebraska A ct) and P resident Pierc e force an ensla ved person do wn histhro at. Note tha t the ensla ved person cries out “Murder!!! Help —neighb ors help , O m y poor W ife and Children ,”
a ref erenc e to the a bolitionis ts’ argument tha t sla very des troyed families .
FIGURE 14.15 This 1856 political car toon, Forcing Sla very Do wn the Thr oat o f a F ree Soiler , by John Mag ee, sho wsRepublican r esentment o f the Democr atic plat form—her e represent ed as an actual plat form— of expanding sla veryinto ne w western t errit ories .
The Demo crats offered James B uchanan as their c andida te. Buchanan did not tak e a s tand on either side o f theissue o f sla very; ra ther , he a ttempte d to ple ase b oth sides . His qualific ation , in the minds o f man y, was tha t hewas out o f the c ountr y when the K ansas -Nebraska A ct w as p assed. In the a bove politic al cartoon, Buchanan ,along with Demo cratic sena tor Lewis C ass, holds do wn the F ree-Soil adv ocate. Buchanan w on the election , butFremont g arnere d more than 33 p ercent o f the p opular v ote, an impres sive return f or a new p arty. The Whigs14.2 • The K ansas-Nebr aska Act and the R epublican P arty 367
had c eased to e xist and had b een replac ed by the R epublic an P arty. Know-N othings also trans ferre d theirallegianc e to the R epublic ans b ecause the new p arty also to ok an anti-immigrant s tanc e, a mo ve tha t fur therboosted the new p arty’s standing . (The Demo crats courted the C atholic immigrant v ote.) The R epublic an P artywas a thoroughly nor thern p arty; no southern deleg ate voted for F remont .
14.3 The Dr ed Scott Decision and Sectional Strif eLEARNING OBJEC TIVESBy the end o f this section, y ou wil l be able t o:
•Explain the impor tanc e of the Supr eme Cour t's Dr ed Sc ott ruling•Discus s the principles o f the R epublican P arty as e xpressed b y Abr aham Linc oln in 1858As president , Buchanan c onfronte d a difficult and v olatile situa tion . The na tion nee ded a s trong p ersonality tolead it , and B uchanan did not p ossess this trait . The violenc e in K ansas demons trated tha t applying p opularsovereignty —the demo cratic principle o f majority r ule—to the territor y offered no solution to the na tional
battle o ver sla very. A decision b y the Supreme C ourt in 1857, which c oncerne d the ensla ved Dre d Sc ott, onlydeep ened the crisis .
DRED SCO TTIn 1857, sev eral months a fter P resident B uchanan to ok the o ath o f office, the Supreme C ourt ruled in Dre dScott v . Sandf ord. Dre d Sc ott (Figure 14.16 ), born with sla ve status in V irginia in 1795, had b een one o f thethousands f orced to relo cate as a result o f the mas sive internal sla ve trade and tak en to Mis souri , whereslavery had b een adopte d as p art of the Mis souri C ompromise . In 1820, Sc ott’s owner to ok him firs t to Illinois
and then to the W isconsin territor y. Ho wever, both o f those regions w ere p art of the N orthwest Territor y, wherethe 1787 N orthwest Ordinanc e had prohibite d sla very. When Sc ott returne d to Mis souri , he a ttempte d to buyhis free dom . After his o wner refuse d, he sought relief in the s tate courts, arguing tha t by vir tue o f having liv edin are as where sla very was b anne d, he should b e free .
FIGURE 14.16 This 1888 por trait b y Louis Schul tze sho ws Dred Sc ott, who f ought f or his fr eedom thr ough theAmerican c ourt system.
In a c omplic ated set o f leg al decisions , a jur y found tha t Scott, along with his wif e and tw o children , were free .
However, on app eal from Sc ott’s owner , the s tate Sup erior C ourt rev erse d the decision , and the Sc ottsremaine d ensla ved. Scott then b ecame the prop erty of John Sanf ord ( his name w as mis spelled as “ Sandf ord”in la ter c ourt do cuments), who liv ed in N ew Y ork. He c ontinue d his leg al battle, and b ecause the is sue in volvedMissouri and N ew Y ork, the c ase f ell under the jurisdiction o f the f ederal c ourt. In 1854, Sc ott los t in f ederal368 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
court and app ealed to the Unite d Sta tes Supreme C ourt.
In 1857, the Supreme C ourt—led by Chief J ustice Roger T aney, a former sla veholder who had free d his those hehad ensla ved—hande d do wn its decision . On the ques tion o f whether Sc ott was free , the Supreme C ourtdecide d he remaine d ensla ved. The c ourt then w ent b eyond the sp ecific is sue o f Scott’s free dom to mak e asweeping and momentous judgment a bout the s tatus o f Black p eople , both free and ensla ved. Per the c ourt,Black p eople c ould nev er b e citiz ens o f the Unite d Sta tes. Further , the c ourt ruled tha t Congres s had no
authority to s top or limit the spre ad o f sla very into Americ an territories . This prosla very ruling e xplicitly madethe Mis souri C ompromise unc onstitutional; implicitly , it made Douglas’ s popular so vereignty unc onstitutional .
Roger T aney on Dred Scott v . Sandf ordIn 1857, the Unit ed Stat es Supr eme Cour t ended y ears o f leg al bat tles when it ruled that Dr ed Sc ott, an ensla vedperson who had r esided in se veral free s tates, should r emain ensla ved. The decision, writ ten b y Chief Jus ticeRoger Taney, also s tated that Black people c ould not be citiz ens and that Congr ess had no po wer to limit thespread o f sla very. The e xcerpt belo w is fr om T aney’s decision.
“A free negr o of the African r ace, whose anc estors w ere brought t o this c ountr y and sold as sla ves, is not a“citiz en” within the meaning o f the Cons titution o f the Unit ed Stat es. . . .
The onl y tw o clauses in the Cons titution which point t o this r ace treat them as persons whom it w as mor allylawful ly to deal in as ar ticles o f proper ty and t o hold as sla ves. . . .
Every citiz en has a right t o tak e with him int o the T errit ory an y article o f proper ty which the Cons titution o f theUnit ed Stat es recognises as pr oper ty. . . .
The Cons titution o f the Unit ed Stat es recognises sla ves as pr oper ty, and pledg es the F eder al Go vernment t oprotect it. And Congr ess cannot e xercise an y mor e authority o ver pr oper ty of that descrip tion than it ma yconstitutional ly exercise o ver pr oper ty of any other kind. . . .
Prohibiting a citiz en o f the Unit ed Stat es fr om taking with him his sla ves when he r emo ves to the T errit ory . . . isan e xercise o f authority o ver priv ate proper ty which is not w arranted b y the Cons titution, and the r emo val of theplaintiff [Dr ed Sc ott] by his o wner t o that T errit ory gave him no title t o freedom. ”How did the Supr eme Cour t define Dr ed Sc ott? Ho w did the c ourt interpr et the Cons titution on this sc ore?
The Dre d Sc ott decision infuria ted Republic ans b y rendering their g oal—to prev ent sla very’s spre ad into theterritories —unc onstitutional . To Republic ans, the decision o ffered fur ther pro of of the re ach o f the South ’sSlave Power, which no w app arently e xtende d ev en to the Supreme C ourt. The decision also c omplic ated lif e fornorthern Demo crats, esp ecially Stephen Douglas , who c ould no long er sell p opular so vereignty as a s ymb olicconcession to southerners from nor thern v oters . Few nor therners fa vored sla very’s expansion w estward.
THE LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBA TESThe turmoil in K ansas , combine d with the furor o ver the Dre d Sc ott decision , pro vide d the b ackground f or the1858 sena torial c ontes t in Illinois b etween Demo cratic sena tor Stephen Douglas and R epublic an hop efulAbraham Linc oln ( Figure 14.17 ). Linc oln and Douglas eng aged in sev en deb ates b efore hug e cro wds tha t metto he ar the tw o men argue the c entral is sue o f sla very and its e xpansion . Newspapers throughout the Unite d
States publishe d their sp eeches . Where as Douglas alre ady enjo yed na tional rec ognition , Linc oln remaine dlarg ely unkno wn b efore the deb ates. These app earanc es pro vide d an opp ortunity f or him to raise his pro filewith b oth nor therners and southerners .DEFINING AMERICAN14.3 • The Dr ed Sc ott Decision and Sectional S trife369FIGURE 14.17 In 1858, Abr aham Linc oln (a) debat ed St ephen Douglas (b) se ven times in the Il linois r ace for theU.S. Senat e. Although Douglas w on the seat, the debat es pr opel led Linc oln int o the national political spotlight.
Douglas p ortrayed the R epublic an P arty as an a bolitionis t eff ort—one tha t aime d to bring a boutmisc egenat ion, or rac e-mixing through se xual rela tions or marria ge. The “Black R epublic ans,” Douglasdeclare d, posed a dang erous thre at to the C onstitution . Indee d, because Linc oln declare d the na tion c ould notsurvive if the sla ve state–free s tate division c ontinue d, Douglas claime d the R epublic ans aime d to des troy wha tthe f ounders had cre ated.
For his p art, Linc oln said: “ A house divide d agains t itself c annot s tand . I believ e this g overnment c annotendure p ermanently half Sla ve and half F ree. I do not e xpect the Union to b e dis solv ed—I do not e xpect thehouse to fall—but I do e xpect it will c ease to b e divide d. It will b ecome all one thing , or all the other . Either theopp onents o f sla very will arres t the fur ther spre ad o f it, and plac e it where the public mind shall res t in thebelief tha t it is in the c ourse o f ultima te extinction: or its adv ocates will push it f orward till it shall b ecame alik e
lawful in all the Sta tes—old as w ell as new , North as w ell as South .” Linc oln interprete d the Dre d Sc ott decisionand the K ansas -Nebraska A ct as eff orts to na tionaliz e sla very: tha t is, to mak e it leg al ev erywhere from N ewEngland to the Midw est and b eyond .
The Lincoln-Douglas DebatesOn Aug ust 21, 1858, Abr aham Linc oln and St ephen Douglas met in Ot tawa, Illinois , for the firs t of seven debat es.
People s treamed int o Ot tawa from neighboring c ounties and fr om as far a way as Chicag o. Repor ting on the e ventwas strictl y par tisan, with each o f the candidat es’ suppor ters claiming vict ory for their candidat e. In this e xcerpt,Linc oln addr esses the is sues o f equality betw een Black and Whit e people .
“[A]n ything that ar gues me int o his idea o f per fect social and political equality with the negr o, is but a speciousand fantas tic arr angement o f words, . . . I ha ve no purpose , directly or indir ectly, to int erfere with the ins titutionof sla very in the Stat es wher e it e xists. I belie ve I ha ve no la wful right t o do so , and I ha ve no inclination t o do so .
I have no purpose t o intr oduc e political and social equality betw een the whit e and the black r aces. Ther e is aphysical diff erence betw een the tw o, which, in m y judgment, wil l probabl y forever forbid their living t ogetherupon the f ooting o f per fect equality , . . . I, as w ell as Judg e Douglas , am in fa vor of the r ace to which I belonghaving the superior position. . . . [N]otwiths tanding al l this , ther e is no r eason in the w orld wh y the negr o is notentitled t o all the natur al rights enumer ated in the Declar ation o f Independenc e, the right t o life, liber ty, and the
pursuit o f happines s. I hold that he is as much entitled t o these as the Whit e man. . . . [I]n the right t o eat thebread, without the lea ve of anybody else , which his o wn hand earns , he is m y equal and the equal o f Judg eDouglas , and the equal o f every living man.DEFINING AMERICAN370 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
—Linc oln’s speech on Aug ust 21, 1858, in Ot tawa, Illinois ”How would y ou char acterize Linc oln’s position on equality betw een Black and Whit e people? What types o fequality e xist, ac cording t o Linc oln?
CLICK AND EXPL OREGo to the Linc oln Home N ational His toric Site ( )on the N ational P arkService’s website to re ad e xcerpts from and full te xts o f the deb ates. Then , visit The Linc oln/Douglas Deb ates o f1858 ( on the N orthern Illinois Univ ersity w ebsite to re ad diff erentnew spaper ac counts o f the deb ates. Do y ou see an y major diff erenc es in the w ay the new spapers rep orted the
deb ates? Ho w do es the c ommentar y vary, and wh y?
During the deb ates, Linc oln demande d tha t Douglas e xplain whether or not he b eliev ed tha t the 1857 SupremeCourt decision in the Dre d Sc ott case tr ump ed the right o f a majority to prev ent the e xpansion o f sla very underthe principle o f popular so vereignty . Douglas resp onde d to Linc oln during the sec ond deb ate at Freep ort,Illinois . In wha t became kno wn as the Freep ort Do ctrine , Douglas adamantly upheld p opular so vereignty ,declaring: “It ma tters not wha t way the Supreme C ourt ma y here after decide as to the a bstract ques tion
whether sla very ma y or ma y not g o into a territor y under the C onstitution , the p eople ha ve the la wful me ans tointro duce it or e xclude it as the y ple ase.” The F reep ort Do ctrine anta goniz ed southerners who supp ortedslavery, and c aused a major rift in the Demo cratic P arty. The do ctrine did help Douglas in Illinois , however,where mos t voters opp osed the fur ther e xpansion o f sla very. The Illinois legisla ture selecte d Douglas o verLinc oln f or the sena te, but the deb ates had the eff ect o f launching Linc oln into the na tional sp otlight . Linc oln
had argue d tha t sla very was morally wrong , even as he ac cepte d the racism inherent in sla very. He w arne d tha tDouglas and the Demo crats w ould na tionaliz e sla very through the p olicy o f popular so vereignty . ThoughDouglas had sur vived the sena te election challeng e from Linc oln, his F reep ort Do ctrine dama ged the p olitic alsupp ort he nee ded from the Southern Demo crats. This help ed him to lose the f ollowing presidential election ,undermining the Demo cratic P arty as a na tional f orce.
14.4 John Br own and the Election of 1860LEARNING OBJEC TIVESBy the end o f this section, y ou wil l be able t o:
•Describe John Br own’s raid on Harpers F erry and its r esul ts•Anal yze the r esul ts of the election o f 1860Events in the la te 1850s did nothing to quell the c ountr y’s sectional unres t, and c ompromise on the is sue o fslavery app eared imp ossible . Linc oln’s 1858 sp eeches during his deb ates with Douglas made the R epublic anParty’s position w ell kno wn; R epublic ans opp osed the e xtension o f sla very and b eliev ed a Sla ve Power
conspiracy sought to na tionaliz e the ins titution . The y quickly g aine d politic al momentum and to ok c ontrol o fthe House o f Representa tives in 1858. Southern le aders w ere divide d on ho w to resp ond to R epublic ansuccess. Southern e xtremis ts, kno wn as “ Fire-Eaters ,” op enly c alled for sec ession . Others , like Mis sissippisena tor J efferson Da vis, put f orward a more mo dera te appro ach b y demanding c onstitutional protection o fslavery.
JOHN BR OWNIn Octob er 1859, the radic al abolitionis t John Bro wn and eighteen arme d men , both Black and White , attack edthe f ederal arsenal in Harp ers F erry, Virginia. The y hop ed to c apture the w eapons there and dis tribute themamong ensla ved people to b egin a mas sive uprising tha t would bring an end to sla very. Bro wn had alre adydemons trated during the 1856 P ottawatomie a ttack in K ansas tha t he had no p atienc e for the non violent
appro ach pre ache d by pacifis t abolitionis ts lik e William Llo yd Garrison . Born in C onnecticut in 1800, Bro wn14.4 • John Br own and the Election o f 1860 371(Figure 14.18 ) spent much o f his lif e in the N orth, mo ving from Ohio to P enns ylvania and then ups tate N ewYork as his v arious busines s ventures faile d. To him , sla very app eared an unac cepta ble evil tha t mus t bepurg ed from the land , and lik e his Puritan f oreb ears, he b eliev ed in using the s word to def eat the ung odly.
FIGURE 14.18 John Br own, sho wn her e in a phot ograph fr om 1859, w as a r adical abolitionis t who adv ocat ed theviolent o verthrow of sla very.
Brown had g one to K ansas in the 1850s in an eff ort to s top sla very, and there , he had p erpetra ted the killings a tPottawatomie . He told other a bolitionis ts of his plan to tak e Harp ers F erry Armor y and initia te a mas sive sla veuprising . Some a bolitionis ts pro vide d financial supp ort, while others , including F rederick Douglas s, found theplot suicidal and refuse d to join . On Octob er 16, 1859, Bro wn’s force easily to ok c ontrol o f the f ederal armor y,which w as unguarde d (Figure 14.19 ). Ho wever, his vision o f a mas s uprising faile d completely . Very few
ensla ved people liv ed in the are a to rally to Bro wn’s side , and the group f ound themselv es hole d up in thearmor y’s engine house with to wnsp eople taking shots a t them . Federal tro ops, commande d by Colonel R obertE. Lee , soon c apture d Bro wn and his f ollowers. On Dec emb er 2, Bro wn w as hang ed by the s tate of Virginia f ortreason .
FIGURE 14.19 John Br own’s raid on Harpers F erry represent ed the r adical abolitionis t’s attemp t to start a revoltthat w ould ul timat ely end sla very. This 1859 il lustration, cap tioned “Harper ’s Ferry insurr ection— Interior o f theEngine -House , jus t bef ore the g ate is br oken do wn b y the s torming par ty—Col. Washingt on and his as sociat es ascaptives, held b y Brown as hos tages,” is fr omFrank L eslie ’s Illustrated Mag azine . Do y ou think this imag e representsa southern or nor thern v ersion o f the r aid? Ho w ar e the char acters in the sc ene depict ed?372 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850s
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CLICK AND EXPL OREVisit the Avalon P roject ( ohnBro wn) on Y ale La w Scho ol’s website to re ad theimp assione d sp eech tha t Henr y Da vid Thore au deliv ered on Octob er 30, 1859, arguing a gains t the e xecution o fJohn Bro wn. Ho w do es Thore au characteriz e Bro wn? Wha t do es he ask o f his f ellow citiz ens?
John Bro wn’s raid on Harp ers F erry genera ted intense re actions in b oth the South and the N orth. Southernersgrew esp ecially apprehensiv e of the p ossibility o f other violent plots . The y view ed Bro wn as a terroris t bent ondestroying their civiliza tion , and supp ort for sec ession grew . Their anxiety le d sev eral southern s tates to p asslaws designe d to prev ent reb ellions b y the ensla ved. It seeme d tha t the w orst fears o f the South had c ome tr ue:
A hos tile majority w ould s top a t nothing to des troy sla very. Was it p ossible , one resident o f Mar yland ask ed, to“live under a g overnment , a majority o f whose subjects or citiz ens reg ard J ohn Bro wn as a mar tyr andChris tian hero? ” Man y antisla very nor therners did in fact c onsider Bro wn a mar tyr to the c ause, and those whoview ed sla very as a sin sa w easy comp arisons b etween him and J esus Chris t.
THE ELEC TION OF 1860The election o f 1860 thre atene d Americ an demo cracy when the elev ation o f Abraham Linc oln to thepresidency inspire d sec essionis ts in the South to withdra w their s tates from the Union .
Linc oln’s election o wed much to the disarra y in the Demo cratic P arty. The Dre d Sc ott decision and the F reep ortDoctrine had op ened up hug e sectional divisions among Demo crats. Though Bro wn did not intend it , his raidhad fur there d the split b etween nor thern and southern Demo crats. Fire-Eaters v owed to prev ent a nor thernDemo crat, esp ecially Illinois’ s Stephen Douglas , from b ecoming their presidential c andida te. These prosla veryzealots insis ted on a southern Demo crat.
The Demo cratic nomina ting c onvention met in A pril 1860 in Charles ton, South C arolina. Ho wever, it brok e upafter nor thern Demo crats, who made up a majority o f deleg ates, rejecte d Jefferson Da vis’s eff orts to protectslavery in the territories . These nor thern Demo cratic deleg ates knew tha t supp orting Da vis on this is sue w ouldbe very unp opular among the p eople in their s tates. A sec ond c onferenc e, held in Baltimore , fur ther illus tratedthe divide within the Demo cratic P arty. Northern Demo crats nomina ted Stephen Douglas , while southern
Demo crats, who met sep arately, put f orward V ice President J ohn Breckinridg e from K entucky . The Demo craticParty had fracture d into tw o comp eting sectional factions .
By offering tw o candida tes f or president , the Demo crats gave the R epublic ans an enormous adv anta ge. Alsohoping to prev ent a R epublic an victor y, pro -Unionis ts from the b order s tates org aniz ed the C onstitutionalUnion P arty and put up a f ourth candida te, John Bell , for president , who ple dged to end sla very agita tion andpreser ve the Union but nev er fully e xplaine d ho w he ’d ac complish this objectiv e. In a pro -Linc oln p olitic alcartoon o f the time ( Figure 14.20 ), the presidential election is presente d as a b aseb all g ame . Linc oln s tands on
home pla te. A sk unk raises its tail a t the other c andida tes. Holding his nose , southern Demo crat JohnBreckinridg e holds a b at labeled “Slavery Extension ” and declares “I gues s I’d better le ave for K entucky , for Ismell something s trong around here , and b egin to think , tha t we are c ompletely sk unk ’d.”14.4 • John Br own and the Election o f 1860 373FIGURE 14.20 The national g ame . Thr ee “outs” and one “ run”(1860), b y Currier and Iv es, sho ws the tw oDemocr atic candidat es and one Cons titutional Union candidat e who los t the 1860 election t o Republican Linc oln,
shown at right.
The R epublic ans nomina ted Linc oln, and in the N ovemb er election , he g arnere d a mere 40 p ercent o f thepopular v ote, though he w on ev ery nor thern s tate except N ew J erse y. (Linc oln’s name w as blo cked from ev enapp earing on man y southern s tates’ b allots b y southern Demo crats.) More imp ortantly , Linc oln did g ain amajority in the Electoral C olleg e (Figure 14.21 ). The F ire-Eaters , however, refuse d to ac cept the results . WithSouth C arolina le ading the w ay, Fire-Eaters in southern s tates b egan to withdra w formally from the Unite d
States in 1860. South C arolinian Mar y Bo ykin Chesnut wrote in her diar y about the re action to the Linc oln’selection . “Now tha t the Black radic al Republic ans ha ve the p ower,” she wrote , “I supp ose the y will Bro wn usall.” Her s tatement rev ealed man y southerners’ f ear tha t with Linc oln as P resident , the South c ould e xpectmore ma yhem lik e the J ohn Bro wn raid .
FIGURE 14.21 This map sho ws the disposition o f elect oral votes for the election o f 1860. The v otes w ere dividedalong almos t per fect sectional lines .374 14 • T roubled Times: the T umul tuous 1850sAccess for fr ee a t opens tax. org.
Key T ermsAmeric an P arty also c alled the K now-N othing P arty, a p olitic al party tha t emerg ed in 1856 with an anti-immigra tion pla tformBlee ding K ansas a ref erenc e to the violent clashes in K ansas b etween F ree-Soilers and sla very supp ortersborder r uffians prosla very Mis sourians who cros sed the b order into K ansas to influenc e the legisla ture
Compromise of 1850 five laws passed by Congres s to resolv e issues s temming from the Me xican C essionand the sectional crisisDre d Sc ott v . Sandf ord an 1857 c ase in which the Supreme C ourt ruled tha t Black p eople c ould not b ecitiz ens and C ongres s had no jurisdiction to imp ede the e xpansion o f sla veryFire-Eaters radic al southern sec essionis ts
Free-Soil P arty a politic al party commit ted to ensuring tha t White la borers w ould not ha ve to c omp ete withunp aid ensla ved people in newly ac quire d territoriesFreep ort Do ctrine a do ctrine tha t emerg ed during the Linc oln-Douglas deb ates in which Douglasreaffirme d his c ommitment to p opular so vereignty , including the right to halt the spre ad o f sla very,despite the 1857 Dre d Sc ott decision a ffirming sla veholders’ right to bring their prop erty wherev er the y
wishe dHarp ers F erry the site o f a federal arsenal in V irginia, where radic al abolitionis t John Bro wn s taged an ill-fated eff ort to end sla very by ins tigating a mas s uprising among ensla ved peoplemisc egenat ion race-mixing through se xual rela tions or marria gepopular so vereignt y the principle o f let ting the p eople residing in a territor y decide whether or not to
permit sla very in tha t are a based on majority r uleRepublic an P arty an antisla very politic al party forme d in 1854 in resp onse to Stephen Douglas’ s Kansas -Nebraska A ctUnder ground Railro ad a netw ork o f free Black and nor thern White p eople who help ed ensla ved peopleescape bonda ge through a series o f designa ted routes and sa fe houses
Summary14.1 The Compr omise of 1850The difficult pro cess of reaching a c ompromise on sla very in 1850 e xposed the sectional fa ult lines in theUnite d Sta tes. After sev eral months o f ranc orous deb ate, Congres s passed fiv e laws—kno wn c ollectiv ely as theCompromise o f 1850—tha t people on b oth sides o f the divide hop ed had solv ed the na tion ’s problems .
However, man y nor therners f eared the imp act o f the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act, which made it a crime not only to helpensla ved people esc ape, but also to fail to help c apture them . Man y Americ ans, both Black and White , floute dthe F ugitiv e Sla ve Act by particip ating in the Underground Railro ad, pro viding sa fe houses f or free dom-seek ers on the r un from the South . Eight nor thern s tates p assed personal lib erty la ws to c ounteract the eff ectsof the F ugitiv e Sla ve Act.
14.2 The K ansas-Nebr ask a Act and the R epublican P artyThe applic ation o f popular so vereignty to the org aniza tion o f the K ansas and N ebraska territories ende d thesectional tr uce tha t had prev ailed sinc e the C ompromise o f 1850. Sena tor Douglas’ s Kansas -Nebraska A ctopened the do or to chaos in K ansas as prosla very and F ree-Soil f orces w aged war a gains t each other , andradic al abolitionis ts, nota bly J ohn Bro wn, commit ted themselv es to violenc e to end sla very. The act also
upende d the sec ond p arty system o f Whigs and Demo crats by inspiring the f orma tion o f the new R epublic anParty, commit ted to arres ting the fur ther spre ad o f sla very. Man y voters appro ved its pla tform i