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Chapter 8. Buchanan elected President the Dred Scott decision Douglas's Springfield speech, 1857 Lincoln's answering speech criticism of Dred Scott decision Kansas Civil War Buchanan Appoints Walker Walker's letter on Kansas the Lecompton Constitution revolt of Douglas The election of 1856 once more restored the Democratic party to full political control in national affairs. James Buchanan was elected President to succeed Pierce; the Senate continued, as before, to have a decided Democratic majority; and a clear Democratic majority of twenty-five was chosen to the House of Representatives to succeed the heavy opposition majority of the previous Congress. Though the new House did not organize till a year after it was elected, the certainty of its coming action was sufficient not only to restore, but greatly to accelerate the pro-slavery reaction begun by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. This impending drift of national policy now received a pow
tic leaders in the Southern States had become more and more outspoken in their pro-slavery demands. They had advanced step by step from the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854, the attempt to capture Kansas by Missouri invasions in 1855 and 1856, the support of the Dred Scott decision and the Lecompton fraud in 1857, the repudiation of Douglas's Freeport heresy in 1858, to the demand for a congressional slave code for the Territories and the recognition of the doctrine of property in slavess of the pro-slavery party had served in an equal degree to intensify the feelings and stimulate the efforts of the Republican party; and, remembering the encouraging opposition strength which the united vote of Fremont and Fillmore had shown in 1856, they felt encouraged to hope for possible success in 1860, since the Fillmore party had practically disappeared throughout the free States. When, therefore, the Charleston convention was rent asunder and adjourned on May 10 without making a nomi
ough he had been an army lieutenant, he had no experience in active war; yet the talent and energy he had displayed in Western military exploration, and the political prominence he had reached as candidate of the Republican party for President in 1856, seemed to fit him preeminently for such a duty. While most of the volunteers from New England and the Middle States were concentrated at Washington and dependent points, the bulk of the Western regiments was, for the time being, put under theal friends and supporters; and, in addition, the father of these, Francis P. Blair, Sr., a veteran politician whose influence dated from Jackson's administration, and through whose assistance Fremont had been nominated as presidential candidate in 1856. The other embarrassment was of a more serious and far-reaching nature. Conscious that he was losing the esteem and confidence of both civil and military leaders in the West, Fremont's adventurous fancy caught at the idea of rehabilitating hi
y popular election before rebellion broke out. In this State, therefore, the institution of slavery was suppressed by the direct action of the people, but not without a long and bitter conflict of party factions and military strife. There existed here two hostile currents of public opinion, one, the intolerant pro-slavery prejudices of its rural population; the other, the progressive and liberal spirit dominant in the city of St. Louis, with its heavy German population, which, as far back as 1856, had elected to Congress a candidate who boldly advocated gradual emancipation: St. Louis, with outlying cities and towns, supplying during the whole rebellion the dominating influence that held the State in the Union, and at length transformed her from a slave to a free State. Missouri suffered severely in the war, but not through important campaigns or great battles. Persistent secession conspiracy, the Kansas episodes of border strife, and secret orders of Confederate agents from Arka
defeated in his application to be appointed commissioner of the General Land Office; defeated for the Senate in the Illinois legislature of 1854, when he had forty-five votes to begin with, by Trumbull, who had only five votes to begin with; defeated in the legislature of 1858, by an antiquated apportionment, when his joint debates with Douglas had won him a popular plurality of nearly four thousand in a Democratic State; defeated in the nomination for Vice-President on the Fremont ticket in 1856, when a favorable nod from half a dozen wire-workers would have brought him success. Failures? Not so. Every seeming defeat was a slow success. His was the growth of the oak, and not of Jonah's gourd. Every scaffolding of temporary elevation he pulled down, every ladder of transient expectation which broke under his feet accumulated his strength, and piled up a solid mound which raised him to wider usefulness and clearer vision. He could not become a master workman until he had served
John G. Nicolay, The Outbreak of Rebellion, Chapter 6: the call to arms. (search)
l fulfilment of any of these extravagant predictions or projects; but they afforded him a substantial basis for the belief that this class of sentiment would at least oppose and thwart the new administration in any quick or extended measures to suppress the confederate revolt. On the part of the North, also, there had been grave misapprehension of the actual state of Southern opinion. For ten years the Southern threats of disunion had been empty bluster. The half-disclosed conspiracy of 1856 did not seem to extend beyond a few notorious agitators. The more serious revolutionary signs of the last three months--the retirement of Southern members from Congress, the secession of States, the seizure of federal forts and the formation of the Montgomery provisional government — were not realized in their full force by the North, because of the general confusion of politics, the rush and hurry of events, the delusive hopes of compromise held out by Congressional committees and factions
s, when the soldiers in their fury about the ammunition destroyed the Mission. At the time of its destruction a rumor of this nature was circulated through camp, started by some wag, no doubt in jest; for Ord, who was somewhat eccentric in his habits, and had started on the expedition rather indifferently shod in carpet-slippers, here came out in a brand-new pair of shoes. Of course there was no real foundation for such a report, but Rains was not above small things, as the bringing of this petty accusation attests. Neither party was ever tried, for General John E. Wool, the department commander, had not at command a sufficient number of officers of appropriate rank to constitute a court in the case of Rains, and the charges against Ord were very properly ignored on account of their trifling character. Shortly after the expedition returned to the Dalles, my detachment was sent down to Fort Vancouver, and I remained at that post during the winter of 1855-56, till late in March.
es, and the failures of Haller and Rains fostered the belief with the Indians that they could successfully resist the pressure of civilization. Acting under these influences, the Spokanes, Walla Wallas, Umatillas, and Nez Perces cast their lot with the hostiles, and all the savage inhabitants of the region east of the Cascade Range became involved in a dispute as to whether the Indians or the Government should possess certain sections of the country, which finally culminated in the war of 1856. Partly to meet the situation that was approaching, the Ninth Infantry had been sent out from the Atlantic coast to Washington Territory, and upon its arrival at Fort Vancouver encamped in front of the officers' quarters, on the beautiful parade-ground of that post, and set about preparing for the coming campaign. The commander, Colonel George Wright, who had been promoted to the colonelcy of the regiment upon its organization the previous year, had seen much active duty since his gradua
sibly profanely urgent phrases. I took the wagon to its destination, but as it was not brought back, even in all the time I was stationed in that country, I think comment on the success of my road is unnecessary. I spent many happy months at Fort Haskins, remaining there until the post was nearly completed and its garrison increased by the arrival of Captain F. T. Dent--a brother-in-law of Captain Ulysses S. Grantwith his company of the Fourth Infantry, in April, 1857. In the summer of 1856, and while I was still on duty there, the Coquille Indians on the Siletz, and down near the Yaquina Bay, became, on account of hunger and prospective starvation, very much excited and exasperated, getting beyond the control of their agent, and even threatening his life, so a detachment of troops was sent out to set things to rights, and I took command of it. I took with me most of the company, and arrived at Yaquina Bay in time to succor the agent, who for some days had been besieged in a log
e of some small squads of Confederates in the neighboring hills furnished us the only incidents of the day. Among the prisoners was a tall and fine looking officer, much worn with hunger and fatigue. The moment I saw him I recognized him as a former comrade, George W. Carr, with whom I had served in Washington Territory. He was in those days a lieutenant in the Ninth Infantry, and was one of the officers who superintended the execution of the nine Indians at the Cascades of the Columbia in 1856. Carr was very much emaciated, and greatly discouraged by the turn events had recently taken. For old acquaintance sake I gave him plenty to eat, and kept him in comfort at my headquarters until the next batch of prisoners was sent to the rear, when he went with them. He had resigned from the regular army at the commencement of hostilities, and, full of high anticipation, cast his lot with the Confederacy, but when he fell into our hands, his bright dreams having been dispelled by the hars
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