James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 115-116.
The Lecompton constitution became the central issue of an acrimonious congressional session in 1857-1858. Douglas declared political war on the administration over the issue, and led the fight in the Senate against admitting Kansas to statehood under the Lecompton constitution. At one point in February 1858, a wild sectional fistfight broke out among thirty congressman during an all-night debate on Lecompton. Northern state legislatures denounced the constitution, but several Southern legislatures threatened secession unless Congress admitted Kansas under this "duly ratified" document: "Rather than having Kansas refused admission under the Lecompton constitution," said a South Carolinian, "let [the Union] perish in blood and fire." Frightened by these threats and browbeaten by his Southern advisers, Buchanan reneged on his commitment to a referendum on the whole constitution. He now declared that the December 21 election was a legitimate referendum while the January 4 election - which was in fact more representative of Kansas opinion - was not. In his message transmitting the Lecompton constitution to Congress, the President declared that Kansas "is at this moment as much a slave state as Georgia or South Carolina.