James Kirby Martin, et al., eds., America and Its Peoples: A Mosaic in the Making, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1997), 475.
Late in 1857, President Buchanan faced a major test of his ability to suppress the slavery controversy. In September, proslavery forces in Kansas met in Lecompton, the territorial capital, to draft a constitution that would bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state. Recognizing that a proslavery constitution would be defeated in a free and fair election, proslavery delegates withheld the new state charter from the territory's voters. Instead, they offered voters a referendum on whether they preferred "the constitution with slavery" or "the constitution without slavery." In either case, however, the new constitution guaranteed slave ownership as a sacred right. A Free Soiler described the proslavery proposal this way. "Vote to take this arsenic with bread and butter, or without bread and butter." Free Soilers boycotted the election and, as a result, "the constitution with slavery" was approved by a 6000-vote margin.