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it was based on wise statesmanship, but to such an extent had sectional prejudice been aroused that the antislavery North was as much opposed to compromise as the proslavery South.
There were many other notable speeches on the Compromise. Seward undertook to refute Webster's argument, and in the course of his remarks declared that Seward and there was “a higher law than the Constitution,” Davis a phrase destined to have a moral influence that Seward never dreamed of. Jefferson Davis, on whom the mantle of Calhoun was about to fall, also spoke and stated clearly what would satisfy the South, — “that is, an equal right to go into all territories, all property being alike protected,” but he added, in default of this, “I will agree to the drawing of the line of 36° 30' through the territories acquired from Mexico.”
The proposal to upset the balance between the sections in the Senate by the admission of California, without any prospect of the admission of another slave State, presented such a serious situation that for the ther first time at the South secession was now seriously ville conconsidered, and at the suggestion of South Caro- ventio lina Mississippi called a convention of Southern States to meet in Nashville in June, 1850. The Southern Whigs declined to support this movement, and when the convention met there was found to be such a wide divergence of views among its members that after adopting resolutions, one of which demanded the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, it adjourned to await the action of Congress.
On July 4 President Taylor, who opposed the Compromise and favored the Wilmot Proviso, was taken suddenly ill and on the 9th he died. Fillmore, who succeeded to the comthe presidency, favored the Compromise. He promise completely reorganized his cabinet, making Web- adopted ster secretary of state. During August and September
the various parts of the Compromise were put through Congress. In November the Nashville convention reassembled, but without a full representation. It passed resolutions rejecting the Compromise and calling on the Southern States to summon another convention to take measures to restore the rights of the South within the Union if possible, "and if not to provide for their safety and independence.” The Compromise had by this time so gained in public favor and the country was so prosperous that no further action was taken.
Both the leading parties found it difficult to select candidates for the campaign of 1852. The Democratic convenThe election tion met in Baltimore June 1, and for forty-eight of 1852 ballots the votes were divided between Cass, Buchanan, and Douglas. Finally on the forty-ninth ballot Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, was nominated. He was the second "dark horse," a man of good ability and winning manners, who had served without distinction in both Houses of Congress and had attained the rank of brigadiergeneral in the Mexican War.
The Whig convention was also held in Baltimore two weeks later. Fillmore, Winfield Scott, and Webster were the leading candidates. Scott was finally nominated on the fiftythird ballot. Both Democrats and Whigs upheld the Compromise in their platforms and deprecated any further agitation of the slavery question. The Free-Soilers nominated John P. Hale. They denied in their platform that the Compromise was a finality, declared that slavery was a sin against God and a crime against man, and demanded the immediate repeal of the fugitive slave law.
The Democrats were sincere in their support of the Compromise, while a large body of Whigs led by Seward had opposed the endorsement of the fugitive slave law in their party platform. The result showed that the great majority of the American people favored the Compromise. Pierce received 254 electoral votes and Scott 42, while the Free
Soilers polled only a little more than half the number of votes they had received four years before.
Calhoun had died in 1850. Clay and Webster both died during the campaign of 1852, Clay in June and Webster in October. All had aspired to the presidency, but
The passing none of the three had attained it. Even that high of the old
leaders office could have added nothing to the permanence or luster of their fame. New leaders were now taking their places, leaders bred in the bitterness of sectional controversy, men with no less patriotism, perhaps, but with stronger prejudices and less patient forbearance. The most prominent of the new group were Seward, Sumner, Chase, Douglas, Davis, and Toombs.
The year 1852 is also memorable for the appearance of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe dealing with slavery. Although neither a true
Uncle representation of slavery nor a literary master- Tom's
Cabin piece, this book appealed to the sympathetic imagination on a subject which the politicians endeavored in vain to exclude from public discussion but which “would not down.” It was read by millions, translated into various languages, and had a larger circulation than any other novel ever written. It made little impression on the older generation, but it was one of the most powerful agencies in keeping alive the agitation against slavery and it molded the opinions of the younger men who elected Lincoln president in 1860.
1. Slavery and Abolition : Wilson, Division and Reunion, Chap. III; H. A. Herbert, Abolition Crusade and Its Consequences; J. F. Rhodes, History of the United States, Vol. I, Chap. I; A. B. Hart, Slavery and Abolition, Chaps. XI-XVIII; Munford, Virginia's Attitude toward Slavery and Secession, Chap. IX.
2. Southern Defense of Slavery: Rhodes, Vol. I, pp. 365–375; J. C. Reed, The Brothers' War, Chap. XIV; Munford, Chaps.
XXIII-XXVI; Jefferson Davis, Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. I, pp. 3–14; U. B. Phillips, Robert Toombs, Chap. VII; The Pro-Slavery Argument, a volume of essays by Chancellor Harper, Governor Hammond, Dr. Simms, and Professor Dew (1852).
3. The Wilmot Proviso: Garrison, Westward Extension, Chap. XVI; Schouler, Vol. IV, p. 543, Vol. V, pp. 66–70, 95–99; A. H. Stephens, War between the States, Vol. II, pp. 165–170; McMaster, Vol. VIII, pp. 1-19.
4. The Doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty: A. C. McLaughlin, Lewis Cass, pp. 231–257; Allen Johnson, Stephen A. Douglas, Book II; Garrison, pp. 275–278, 300.
5. The Campaign of 1848: Garrison, Chap. XVII; Stanwood, History of the Presidency, Chap. XVIII; McLaughlin, Lewis Cass, Chap. VIII.
6. The Compromise of 1850: Garrison, Chap. XX; Rhodes, Vol. I, Chap. II; Schouler, Vol. V, pp. 157–198; McMaster, Vol. VIII, pp. 10-48; Stephens, Vol. II, pp. 176–240; H. C. Lodge, Daniel Webster, Chap. IX; Schurz, Henry Clay, Vol. II, Chap. XXVI; F. Bancroft, William H. Seward, Vol. I, Chaps, XIV-XVI.
7. The Election of 1852: T. C. Smith, Parties and Slavery, Chap. III; Stanwood, Chap. XIX; Rhodes, Vol. I, Chap. III; McMaster, Vol. VIII, pp. 166–181.
PIERCE was inaugurated under apparently propitious circumstances. The widespread satisfaction with the Compromise of 1850 and the falling off in the vote
An aggrespolled by the Free-Soilers seemed to indicate sive foreign that the slavery question had been at least tem- policy porarily eliminated from national politics. The new administration hoped by the adoption of a bold foreign policy to keep the attention of the nation diverted from this issue. Under Fillmore Webster and also Everett, who succeeded him in the State Department, had tried to handle foreign questions in a way to arouse national pride and patriotism and their efforts had met with success.
Soon after Pierce came into office a new treaty was negotiated with Mexico, by which we acquired an important tract of land south of the Gila River in Arizona known as the “Gadsden Purchase"; in 1854 a Canadian reciprocity treaty was signed with England; during the same year, Commodore Perry forced the ruler of Japan to sign the famous treaty which opened up that country to foreign commerce; and a number of other treaties relating to American commerce, to neutral rights, and to extradition were negotiated with various powers.
William L. Marcy, who directed these negotiations, was one of our ablest and most successful secretaries of state. Pierce had in his cabinet two other men of great ability, Jefferson Davis as secretary of war, and Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts, as attorney-general.