gressmen had not asked such a thing ; but now, after a gasp
of astonishment, they seized their chance.
Most Northerners looked upon the move as a wanton viola
tion of a sacred pledge ; but the bill carried by a close vote,
in the House, 113 to 100. Douglas tried to make the bill a
party measure ; but it ended as a sectional measure. Half the
Northern Democrats voted against it though all the Presi
dent's power of patronage ( 572) was used to whip them into
line and the other half, almost to a man, lost their seats at the
next election. All Southern congressmen but nine, Whigs or
Democrats, voted for it.
635. Now the struggle for " Bleeding Kansas " was transferred
to the country at large. From Missouri thousands of armed
slave-owners poured across the line to preempt land which,
however, few of them made any pretense of really settling.
From the North, especially from distant New England, came
thousands of true settlers, financed often by the " Emigrant
Aid Society," and armed with the new breech-loading Sharpe's
rifle, to save Kansas for freedom. In like fashion, far-off
Georgia sent her contingent of the " Sons of the South " re
ligiously dedicated to the cause of slavery. But once more
slavery proved its weakness. In spite of the neighborhood of
slave territory, it was not easy to move slave plantations to
a new State, especially to one not particularly adapted to
slave labor ; and the free-State settlers soon predominated in
The first Territorial legislature was carried by "Border
Ruffians " from across the Missouri line. A preliminary
" census " had shown only 2905 voters in the Territory. On
the evening before the election day, " an unkempt, sun-dried,
blatant, picturesque mob of five thousand Missourians, with
636] " BLEEDING KANSAS " 533
guiis on their shoulders, revolvers stuffing their belts, bowie-
knives protruding from their boot-tops, and generous rations
of whisky in their wagons," drove inadly across the border,
seized all but one of the polling places, and swamped the " free-
State " vote. The proslavery legislature, so elected, unseated
the few " free-State " members, and passed stringent laws to
protect slavery. The free-State settlers tried to disregard this
fraudulent government (January, 1856), and it was denounced
also by the honest and fearless governor, Andrew H. Reeder,
who had been appointed as a strong proslavery man. But
President Pierce removed Reeder and supported the proslavery
legislature with United States troops. Actual war followed in
Kansas between rival proslavery and free-State "govern
ments," and bloody murders were committed both by raiders
from Missouri and by free-State fanatics like John Brown. 1
636. In the debate on the Nebraska bill, Sumner had declared
that it " annuls all past compromises, and makes future com
promises impossible. It puts freedom and slavery face to face,
and bids them grapple" And said Emerson : " The Fugitive law
did much to unglue the eyes ; and now the Nebraska bill leaves us
That rash measure had coalized the discordant antislavery
elements throughout the country into one political party. " Anti-
Nebraska men " (Free Soilers, Northern Whigs, Northern Demo
crats opposed to Douglas' measure) drew together under the name
Republican. This party took from the Free Soilers the program
of prohibiting slavery in all " Territories." It adopted from
the Whigs, who rallied to it in large numbers, their broad-con
struction views. And it recognized its Democratic element by
nominating as its first candidate for President a young officer
belonging to that party, John C. Fremont. The name Re-
1 Brown was quite ready to take life, or to give his own, in fighting " the
sum of all villanies," but he must not be confounded with "ordinary
criminals." His killings represented a blind revolt of the moral sense
against an unrighteous system. They were somewhat similar to the crimes
by maddened enthusiasts in the cause of social reform.
THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL
637] AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY 535
publican was designed to indicate the purpose of going back to
the true democracy of Jefferson's original " Republican " party.
The first Republican National Convention (1856) contained
representatives from all the free States and from Maryland,
Delaware, and Kentucky. The platform asserted that under
the Constitution neither Congress nor any Territorial legisla
ture had authority to establish slavery in a Territory, urged a
railway across the continent, and pledged liberal aid to com
merce by river and harbor improvement. Despite the sweep
ing statement regarding slavery in the Territories, the party,
down to the War, affirmed steadfastly that Congress had no
right to interfere with the institution in the States; and its
leaders reviled Abolitionists almost as violently as the South
In the election, Fremont carried all the Northern States but
four. The Know-nothings carried Maryland. The Democrats
elected their candidate, James Buchanan, by 174 electoral votes to
114. The Republicans, however, in this first contest, mustered
1,300,000 votes, to 1,800,000 for the Democrats.
637. And then (March, 1857) came the Dred Scott decision,
in which the Supreme Court declared that both North and South
were trying to stand upon unconstitutional ground with a
difference. Dred Scott was the slave of an army officer. In
1834 his owner had taken him to an army post in Illinois, and,
later, to one in what is now Minnesota; and then back to
Missouri. Slavery could not legally exist in Illinois, because
of the Northwest Ordinance, or in Minnesota, because of the
Missouri Compromise ; and, some years later, Scott sued for
his freedom on the ground that he became free legally when
he resided in that free territory.
The case finally reached the Supreme Court. That august
body held that Scott was still a slave and had no standing in
court ; 1 and two thirds of the Court 2 concurred in the further
and uncalled-for opinion of the Chief Justice (Roger B. Taney)
1 Scott was at once freed by his owner.
2 Justices Curtis and McLean presented powerful dissenting opinions.
536 THE DRED SCOTT DECISION [ 638
that neither Congress nor Territorial legislature could legally for
bid slavery in a Territory. The Constitution, said the Court,
sanctioned property in slaves, and every citizen of the Union
must have his property protected in any part of the common
national domain. Only a State could abolish slavery.
This was a sweeping adoption of Calhoun's contention, and
the precise reverse of Republican doctrine. According to this
dictum, the restriction upon slavery in the Missouri Com
promise had always been void in law, even before repealed by
the Nebraska Act. Quite as clearly, the opinion denied the
" popular sovereignty " idea. But in exchange for this ground
which it was told to surrender, the South was offered still
more advanced and impregnable proslavery ground ; while the
Republican party was branded as seeking an end wholly un
constitutional and illegitimate by any means. It must sur
render, or defy the Court "that part of our government on
which all the rest hinges."
638. Without hesitation, the Republican leaders defied the
Court. Said Seward in the Senate : " The Supreme Court
attempts to command the people of the United States to accept
the principle that one man can own other men ; and that they
must guarantee the inviolability of that false and pernicious
property. The people . . . never can, and they never will,
accept principles so unconstitutional and abhorrent. ... We
shall reorganize the Court, and thus reform its political senti
ments and practices, and bring them into harmony with the
Constitution and the laws of nature." Lincoln, in public debate,
even accused the Court of entering into a plot with Pierce,
Douglas, and Buchanan. Other Northerners foresaw Civil
War. James Russell Lowell, on hearing of the Court's deci
sion, wrote to Charles Eliot Norton, in Italy : " I think it will
do good. It makes slavery national, as far as the Supreme
Court can. So now the lists are open, and we shall soon see
where the stouter lance shafts are grown. North or South"
More temperately, but quite as decidedly, the influential
Springfield Republican said : " In this country, the court of last
640] AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY 537
resort is the people. They will discuss and review the action
of the Supreme Court, and, if it presents itself as a practical
issue, they will vote against it"
639. The congressional elections of the next year showed
great Republican gains. The campaign was made famous by
a series of joint debates in Illinois between Douglas (the " Little
Giant ") and Abraham Lincoln, candidates for the Senate.
Lincoln was defeated, but he attained his deliberate purpose.
His acute and persistent questions forced Douglas to choose
between the new doctrine of the Supreme Court to which
the South now clung vociferously and his own old doctrine
of squatter sovereignty which was certainly as far as Illinois
would go. If he placed himself in opposition to the Supreme
Court, he would not be able to secure Southern support for the
presidency at the next election, to which men's eyes were
already turned. If he did not oppose the Court, he would lose
the Senatorship and Northern support for the presidency. In
any case, the Slavery party would be robbed of its most for
midable candidate in 1860. Douglas was driven to maintain
that, despite the Dred Scott decision, a Territorial legislature
could keep out slavery by " unfriendly legislation." This
doctrine was at once denounced bitterly by the South. 1
Even more significant was the moral stand taken by Lincoln. The
real issue, he declared, was the right or wrong of slavery, not any
constitutional theory. " It is the eternal struggle between these two
principles right and wrong throughout the world. They are the two
principles which have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and
which will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of
humanity: the other is the divine right of kings." Slavery, he affirmed,
"is the spirit that says, 'You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat
it.' No matter in what shape it comes, it is the same tyrannical
640. In 1857 the free-State men won the Kansas elections so
overwhelmingly that the proslavery organization could no
longer expect open support from Washington. The expiring
1 A graphic picture of Lincoln's famous Freeport debate is given in
Churchill's novel The Crisis.
538 THE SLAVE POWER [ 64J
proslavery legislature, however, still provided for a proslavery
convention, which met at Lecompton (November, 1857). Pres
ident Buchanan had purchased for that body the privilege
of meeting in peace by promising that its work should be sub
mitted to popular vote. This pledge was not kept. The con
vention arranged a " constitution with slavery " and a " consti
tution with no slavery," which last, however, left in bondage the
slaves then in the Territory, and forbade the residence of free
Negroes. At the promised election, the voters were permitted
merely to choose between these two constitutions : they were given
no opportunity to reject both.
The free-State men kept away from the polls ; and the " con
stitution with slavery " carried overwhelmingly, six thousand
to less than six hundred. But the new free-State legislature
provided for a new and proper expression of opinion. This
time the proslavery men abstained from voting ; and the two
constitutions together received less than two hundred votes, to
more than ten thousand against both of them. Still, the South
and the Administration at Washington strove violently to
secure the admission of the State with the " Lecompton con
stitution," claiming the first election as valid.
This nefarious attempt to rob the people of their will was
defeated by the warm opposition of Douglas, who remained true
to his doctrine of popular sovereignty. The Slave Power
succeeded, however, in getting Congress to submit the Le
compton constitution for the third time to the people of Kansas,
with a dazzling bribe of public lands if they would accept it.
Kansas refused the bribe, 11,000 to 2000. Even then the Dem
ocratic Senate would not admit the State with its " free " con
stitution, and Kansas statehood had to wait till 1861. Meantime,
two other free States came in, to establish Northern supremacy
in the Senate, Minnesota (1858) and Oregon (1859).
641. In one other vital matter at this same time the Slave
Power offended the moral sense and threatened the material interest
of " free " labor. As early as 1845, Andrew Johnson of Ten
nessee ( 547) introduced in Congress the first " Homestead bill"
642] OFFENDS FREE LABOR 539
to give every homeless citizen a farm from the public lands.
Several times such bills passed, the House. But larger free
immigration into the public domain would end all chance to set
up slavery there ; and the Slave Power, formerly favorable to a
liberal land policy, now defeated all these bills in the Senate.
This new attitude of the Slave Power helped to make the
masses of the North see the fundamental opposition between
free and slave labor.
On the other hand, the antislavery parties appealed to North
ern workingmen by their position on this matter. The Free
Soilers declared in their platform of 1852, in full accord with
the labor parties of twenty years before :
" The public land of the United States belongs to the people, and should
not be sold to individuals or granted to corporations, but should be held
as a sacred trust for the benefit of the people, and should be granted in
limited quantities, free of cost, to landless settlers."
In June of 1860 the House again passed a Homestead bill
giving any head of a family a quarter section after five years'
residence thereon. The Republican platform of the same year
" demanded" the passing by the Senate of that " complete and
satisfactory measure," protesting also "against any view of the
free homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers
or suppliants for public bounty." This time the Senate did
pass the bill, but Buchanan vetoed it.
"The honest poor man," argued the President with gracious rhetoric,
" by frugality and industry can in any part of our country acquire a com
petency. . . . He desires no charity. . . . This bill will go far to
demoralize the people and repress this noble spirit of independence. It
may introduce among us those pernicious social theories which have
proved so disastrous in other countries."
When the Slave Power withdrew from Congress, a Home
stead bill at last became law in May, 1862.
642. Two other events must be noticed, before we take up
the fateful election of 1860.
a. In 1859 John Brown ( 635) tried to arouse a slave insurrec
tion in Virginia. He seems hardly to have comprehended the
540 THE SLAVERY STRUGGLE [ 642
hideous results that would have followed a successful attempt
He planned to establish a camp in the mountains to which
Negro fugitives might rally ; and his little force of twenty-two
men seized the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, to get arms for
slave recruits. The neighboring slaves did not rise, as he had
hoped they would, and he was captured after a gallant defense.
Virginia gave him a fair trial ; and he was convicted of murder
and of treason against that commonwealth. His death made
him more formidable to slavery than ever he had been living.
The North in general condemned his action ; but its condem
nation was tempered by a note of sympathy and admiration
ominous to Southern ears. Emerson declared that Brown's
execution made " the scaffold glorious like the Cross."
b. In 1852 Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe had written Uncle
Tom's Cabin, one of the greatest moral forces ever contained
between book covers. The volume undoubtedly misrepre
sented slavery, as though exceptional incidents had been
the rule ; but it did its great work in making the people of
the North realize that the slave was a fellow man for whom
any slavery was hateful. The tremendous influence of the
book, however, was not really felt for some years. The boys
of fourteen who read it in 1852 were just ready to give their
vote to Abraham Lincoln in 1860. This explains, too, in part,
why the college youth who had been generally proslavery in
1850 left college halls vacant in 1861-1865 to join the North
EXERCISE. a. Topical reviews : (1) territorial expansion ; (2) popu
lation, immigration, distribution, etc.; (3) attempts to restrict slavery in
the territories ; (4) tariff legislation, to the War.
b. Prepare a table of admission of States for reference.
FOR FURTHER READING. The stirring story of the Compromise of
1850 and of the struggle for Kansas should be read in larger histories. It
is told brilliantly, and quite briefly, in MacDonald's From Jefferson to
Lincoln, 124-207. There are many readable and valuable biographies
for the period : among them, Hart's Chase, Morse's Lincoln, Meigs'
Benton, Davis' Jefferson Davis, and the admirable sketches in Trent's
Southern Statesmen, besides those mentioned in previous lists.
From 1830 to 1860
ON THE EVE OF THE FINAL STRUGGLE
I. AMERICA IN 1860
643. WE have treated the period 1845-1860 only in regard
to the slavery question. To most men of the time, however,
these years had a more engrossing aspect. The era was one of
wonderful material prosperity. Wealth increased fourfold,
for the first time in our history faster than population. Men
were absorbed in a mad race to seize the new opportunities.
They had to stop, in some degree, for the slavery discussion ;
but the majority looked upon that as an annoying interruption
to the real business of life.
Between 1850 and 1857, railway mileage, multiplied enor
mously ; and in the North the map took on its modern gridiron
look. Lines reached the Mississippi at ten points ; and some
projected themselves into the unsettled plains beyond. With
the railway, or ahead of it, spread the telegraph. Mail routes,
too, took advantage of rail transportation ; and in 1850
postage was lowered from 5 cents for 300 miles to 3 cents for
3000 miles. With cheap and swift transportation and com
munication, the era of commercial combinations began, and
great fortunes piled up beyond all previous dreams. The new
money kings, railway barons, and merchant princes of the
North, it was noted, joined hands with the great planters of
the South in trying to stifle opposition to slavery because
all such agitation " hurt business."
For labor, too, the period was a golden age. Between 1840
and 1860, wages rose twenty per cent, and prices only two per
cent. Pauperism was unobtrusive, and, to foreign observers,
amazingly rare. Inventions had multiplied comforts and
542 AMERICA IN 1860 [ 644
luxuries. Pianos from Germany were seen in Western
villages, and French silks sometimes found their way to the
counter of a cross-roads store. Western farmers moved from
their old log cabins into two-story frame houses, painted white,
with green blinds. That same rather bare sort of building
was the common " town " house also in the West varied,
however, by an occasional more pretentious and often more
ugly " mansion " of brick or stone.
New England and New York had learned the lesson of con
servative banking ; but in the West most banks were still
managed recklessly. In 1857, accordingly, came another
"panic," due, like that of 1837, to speculation, wild inflation
of credit, and premature investment of borrowed capital in
enterprises that could give no immediate return. This time,
however, the country recovered quickly from the disorder.
644. The twenty years preceding the Civil War saw an indus
trial transformation due to the development of farm machinery.
One farm laborer in 1860 could produce more than three in
1840. 1 Until 1850, the dominant agricultural interest of the United
States had been the cotton and tobacco of the South. After
that date, it became the grain of the Northwest. For that section,
McCormick's reaper worked a revolution akin to that worked
for the South a half-century earlier by W^hitney's cotton gin.
Until 1850, too, the more distant parts of the West, Wis
consin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, southern Illinois, had
remained tributary commercially to New Orleans, by the river.
Now this Northwest suddenly changed front. Farm machinery
and the railway made it possible for it to feed the growing
Eastern cities and even to export the surplus to Europe from
This change in trade routes ivas more than economic. It com
pleted the break in the old political alliance of South and
West already begun by the moral awakening on slavery
and foreshadowed a new political alliance of East and West.
Cf. cuts on pages 472, 473.
GROWTH AND PROSPERITY
The merit of the Compromise of 1850 in our history is that it
put off the war until this alliance was cemented and the
Northwest was, body and soul, on the side of the Union.
In yet another way the improved reapers and threshers may
be said to have won the Civil War. Without such machinery,
Northern grain fields could never have spared the men who
marched with Grant and Sherman. As it was, with half its
men under arms, the Northwest increased its farm output.
^*j Wheat Areas
50 100 200
Each dot represents
50,000 bushels and
ahows the county
With permission, from Dodd's Expansion and Conflict (" Kiverside History
of the United States "), published by the Houghton Mifflin Company.
645. The acquisition of California had been followed by a
swift expansion of trade with Asia. Hawaii had been brought
under American influence previously by American missionaries
and traders ; and in 1844 China was persuaded to open up five
"treaty ports " to American trade. Japan continued to exclude
foreigners until 1854, when Commodore Perry, in pursuance of
orders from Washington, entered Japanese ports with his
fleet of warships and secured a commercial treaty.
After the discovery of gold in California (and with the open
ing of these prospects of Oriental trade) the question of trans
portation across the Isthmus of Panama arose. Great Britain
and the United States each tried to secure routes for a canal
544 AMERICA IN 1860 [ 646
from ocean to ocean ; but in 1850 the Clayton-Buliver treaty agreed
that any canal across those narrow lands should be neutral, and
subject to common control by the two countries. In 1855 a rail
way was opened across the Isthmus.
The ambitious project of an American railway from the Mis
sissippi to the Pacific was agitated constantly after 1850 ; and in
1861, encouraged by prospects of a government subsidy, the
Western Union carried a telegraph line across the mountains to
San Francisco. ' Travel from St. Louis to San Francisco, by
relays of armed stage coaches, took four weeks ; but mail was
carried in ten days by the daring riders of the " Pony Express."
646. Population had continued to increase at about the old
rate of 100 per cent in twenty-live years, besides the added
volume of immigration in the fifties. Between 1850 and 1860
our numbers had risen from twenty-three million to thirty-one
and a half ; and the cities (eight thousand people and upwards)
counted now 158. This was four times as many as twenty
years earlier ; and the cities now contained one man in every
six of the entire population, instead of one in twelve, as in
1840, or one in twenty, as in 1800. The westward movement of
population, too, continued unabated.
The map (page 358) makes that movement appear even greater than in
earlier decades ; but the westward leap of the " center of population " be
tween 1850 and 1860 is deceptive. Before 1850, the position of that point
had been a roughly correct indication, because, on the whole, except for a
temporary gap at the Appalachians ( 180), settlement had been fairly
contiguous. But between 1849 and 1860 half a million people had crossed
to the Pacific Coast, leaving more than half the continent unsettled be
hind them, so that in determining this artificial " center of gravity,"
three men at San Francisco had as much weight as ten in New York. But
cf. map opposite with those on pages 269 and 418.)
The cities of 1860 were still large towns gone to seed from rapid growth.
They were unplanned, ugly, filthy, poorly policed ; and the larger ones
were run by corrupt " rings" of politicians, who maintained their power
by unblushing fraud. New York introduced a uniformed and disciplined