It was a costly victory.
It was followed by defeat not only disastrous but fatal.
The result in Kansas
was really the turning-point in the great struggle.
It broke the line of Southern victories.
It neutralized the effect of the whole territorial movement up to that point.
It completely spoiled the slaveholders' well-laid plans.
We will always give Grant
and his men all praise for victories leading up to Appomatox, but, in some respects, the most important victory of the great conflict was won on the plains of Kansas
by John Brown
of Ossawattomie and his Abolition associates.
The most sagacious Southern leaders saw in that result conclusive proof that the scale was turned.
They realized that they were beaten within the lines of the Union
, and they began to arrange for going out of it. They helped to elect a Republican President
by dividing the Democratic party in 1860 between two candidates-Douglas and Breckenridge
— in order that they might have a plausible pretext for secession.
But the slaveholders had not abandoned the other policy to which reference has been made — that of carrying their institution, by main force, as it were, into some, if not all, of the free States.
To that end they had, in sporting parlance, a card up their sleeves which they proceeded to play.
That card was the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Dred Scott
case, upon which they relied to give them the legal power to take and hold their slaves in all parts of the land.
Up to the date of that decision, the current of judicial rulings had been that slavery, being a municipal institution,