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[20] religious denominations of the United States divided into northern and southern churches. In 1849 the question of the admission of California again brought strife on this subject into the Congress. After a long contention, the compromise measures of 1850, introduced by Henry Clay, were adopted, the majority of Virginians favoring them; but the question of the rights of the separate States in the territories was still left open. Then began ‘the irrepressible conflict,’ which could only be settled, as it subsequently proved, by a gigantic war.

The execution of the fugitive slave law, one of the compromise measures of 1850, soon became a flaming firebrand waving between the free and the slave States. In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska bill brought to fever heat the question of the control of slavery in the territories by those living therein; but, in spite of bitter opposition, a bill favoring the claims of the South was passed by a majority of nearly two-thirds of the Senate and 13 in the House, although representation in Congress at that time was Northern by a large majority. This result was largely brought about by the influence of Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois, who contended that under the legislation of 1850 the citizens settled in the territories had the right to decide the question of slavery for themselves.

A reign of terror followed in Kansas, in 1855, when the two factions, each aided by extremists from either section of the Union, met in conflict, and opposing territorial governments were organized. In 1856, John Brown, a fanatical abolitionist, backed by others of that faction, mainly in New England, took an active part in these contentions in Kansas, leading a night attack against his pro-slavery neighbors. Riots occurred in Boston when a United States marshal attempted to enforce the fugitive slave law, and New England sent men, money and arms for the Kansas conflict.

In 1856 the question of the right of the owners of slaves to carry them into the territories came before the Supreme court of the United States for a decision, in the case of Dred Scott. The court held that the ‘Missouri compromise’ was unconstitutional, that the territories were the common property of all the States, and that the Federal government was bound to protect the slaves as well as the other property of citizens settling in these territories. This added fuel to the flame of abolitionism. In the presidential

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