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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain the political ramifications of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
  • Describe the founding of the Republican Party

In the early 1850s, the United States’ sectional crisis had abated somewhat, cooled by the Compromise of 1850 and the nation’s general prosperity. In 1852, voters went to the polls in a presidential contest between Whig candidate Winfield Scott and Democratic candidate Franklin Pierce. Both men endorsed the Compromise of 1850. Though it was considered unseemly to hit the campaign trail, Scott did so—much to the benefit of Pierce, as Scott’s speeches focused on forty-year-old battles during the War of 1812 and the weather. In New York, Scott, known as “Old Fuss and Feathers,” talked about a thunderstorm that did not occur and greatly confused the crowd. In Ohio, a cannon firing to herald Scott’s arrival killed a spectator.

Pierce was a supporter of the “Young America” movement of the Democratic Party, which enthusiastically anticipated extending democracy around the world and annexing additional territory for the United States. Pierce did not take a stance on the slavery issue. Helped by Scott’s blunders and the fact that he had played no role in the bruising political battles of the past five years, Pierce won the election. The brief period of tranquility between the North and South did not last long, however; it came to an end in 1854 with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act led to the formation of a new political party, the Republican Party, that committed itself to ending the further expansion of slavery.

The kansas-nebraska act

The relative calm over the sectional issue was broken in 1854 over the issue of slavery in the territory of Kansas. Pressure had been building among northerners to organize the territory west of Missouri and Iowa, which had been admitted to the Union as a free state in 1846. This pressure came primarily from northern farmers, who wanted the federal government to survey the land and put it up for sale. Promoters of a transcontinental railroad were also pushing for this westward expansion.

Southerners, however, had long opposed the Wilmot Proviso’s stipulation that slavery should not expand into the West. By the 1850s, many in the South were also growing resentful of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which established the 36° 30' parallel as the geographical boundary of slavery on the north-south axis. Proslavery southerners now contended that popular sovereignty should apply to all territories, not just Utah and New Mexico. They argued for the right to bring their slave property wherever they chose.

Attitudes toward slavery in the 1850s were represented by a variety of regional factions. Throughout the South, slaveholders entrenched themselves in defense of their “way of life,” which depended on the ownership of slaves. Since the 1830s, abolitionists, led by journalist and reformer William Lloyd Garrison, had cast slavery as a national sin and called for its immediate end. For three decades, the abolitionists remained a minority, but they had a significant effect on American society by bringing the evils of slavery into the public consciousness. By the 1850s, some abolitionists advocated the use of violence against those who owned slaves. In 1840, the Liberty Party, whose members came from the ranks of ministers, was founded; this group sought to work within the existing political system, a strategy Garrison and others rejected. Meanwhile, the Free-Soil Party committed itself to ensuring that white laborers would find work in newly acquired territories and not have to compete with unpaid slaves.

Questions & Answers

who invented the comedy movie without soun
Sami Reply
which of the following is not one of the tasks women performed during the revolution?
Donna Reply
Which country etablished the first colonies in the americas
Alex Reply
which part of the America's? what year?
Kyle
Jamestown = England. if I had to guess that's the one you are looking for
Kyle
Spain. area of new Mexico I think.
Christie
the first encounter with Americans in this te Indian was Christopher Columbus from spain bt he not establish a colony and the first colony was Britain in Jamestown I think
Bernard
in what ways did westward expansion provide new opportunities for women and african americans?\
cavausier Reply
What source did the Roman Catholic church have
robbie Reply
Please clarify: do you mean what sources do they made their authority on?
Victor
impact of coming of Portuguese in kenya
Brian Reply
impact of coming of portuguese
Brian
impact of coming of portuguese
Brian
What was the first problem that Franklin Roosevelt dealt with during his "First Hundred Days"?
Bryan Reply
The Great Depression
wy
worst cover up! they should feel dumb! they we're trapped in, on both sides of the East and West borders of the Islamic forces, Columbus was desperate and started voyage due to the events of his time!
Abdul
Which of the following protests was directly related to federal policies, and thus had the biggest impact in creating a negative public perception of Hoover presidency
Steven Reply
the Bonus Army
Victor
what mistakes did Britain mak the lost them the colonies
Victor Reply
tax without representation
JOE'S
they did not give the colinies any representation
Victor
they also imposed taxes ,such as the stamp Act, on those it is unwise to offend; lawyers, business men and other men of influence
Victor
the american revolution
Angelica Reply
what started the American revolution
Futuremfan
immediate cause: British tried to seize weapons stored by local militia which led to a confrontation
Victor
the British handling of the situation was quite inept and they allowed things to escalate out of control.
Victor
hi...can you state benefit of U.S constitution
Chimi Reply
bill of rights
Tom
it provided a political framework which provifed stability while at the same time permitting freedoms which allowed the American people to flourish
Victor
bill spelled out rights so there wpuld be no confusion
Victor
Among the major cause of American civil war, can I have a brief account on social cause?
Rinchen Reply
The issue of slavery between South America and North America that lead to the American Civil War
Sanusi
not sure what you mean by "social" causes. Do you mean things like differences between Northern ers & southerners?
Victor
The N & S developed very differently. This led to clashing outlooks and agendas. Slavery was the "irepressible conflict" that made compromise impossible.
Victor
what was the purpose of Operation Valkyrie?
Matthew Reply
I have no idea
Sanusi
that was the WWII attempt by German officers to overthrow Hitler.
Victor
which culture developed the writting system in the western hemisphere?
cierra Reply
the phoenicians
Victor
loops I mean the Maya
Victor
Treaty of Greenville
The Reply
By this treaty Indians gave up some land in exchange for am annuity of money & supplies. It followed Battle of Fallen Timbers, a decisive victory of US troops over Indian tribes organized into the Western Confederacy. It marks the beginning of modern state of Ohio.
Victor

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Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
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