The American Nation: A History of the United States

Garraty, John A. and Robart A. McCaughey, eds. The American Nation: A History of the United States. New York: Harper & Row, 1998.
Source Type
Secondary
Year
1998
Publication Type
Book
Citation:
John A. Garraty and Robart A. McCaughey, eds., The American Nation: A History of the United States (New York: Harper & Row, 1998), 406.
Body Summary:
By denouncing the free-state government located at Topeka, President Pierce encouraged the proslavery settlers to assume the offensive. In May they sacked the antislavery town of Lawrence. A psychopathic Free Soiler named John Brown then took the law into his own hands in retaliation. In May 1865, together with six companions (four of them his sons) Brown stole into a proslavery settlement on Pottawatomie Creek in the dead of the night. They dragged five unsuspecting settlers from their rude cabins and murdered them. This senseless slaughter brought men on both sides to arms by the hundreds. Brown and his followers were indicted for the murders, but Brown's recent biographer, Stephen B. Oates, has written "Kansas was in complete chaos." Armed bands, one led by Brown himself, "prowled the countryside, shooting at one another and looting." Pressure from federal troops eventually forced Brown to go into hiding. He finally left Kansas in October 1856. By that time some 200 persons had lost their lives. Exaggerated accounts of "Bleeding Kansas" filled the pages of northern newspapers.
Citation:
John A. Garraty and Robart A. McCaughey, eds., The American Nation: A History of the United States (New York: Harper & Row, 1998), 410.
Body Summary:
Kansas soon provided a test for northern suspicions. Initially Buchanan handled the problem of Kansas well by appointing Robert J. Walker as governor. Although he was from Mississippi. Walker has no desire to foist slavery on the territory against the will of its inhabitants. He was a small man, but a courageous one, patriotic, vigorous, tough-minded, much like Douglas in temper and belief. A former senator and Cabinet member, he had more political stature by far than any previous governor of the territory. The proslavery leaders in Kansas had managed to convene a constitutional convention at Lecompton, but the Free Soil forces had refused to participate in the election of the delegates. When this rump body drafted a proslavery constitution and then refused to submit it to a fair vote of all the settlers, Walker denounced its work and hurried back to Washington to explain the situation to Buchanan. The president refused to face reality. His pro-southern advisers were clamoring for him to "save" Kansas. Instead of rejecting the Lecompton constitution, he asked Congress to Admit Kansas to the Union with this document as its frame of government.
Citation:
Theodore Clarke Smith, “Parties and Slavery, 1850-1859,” The American Nation: A History, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart, vol. 18 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906), 218-219.
Body Summary:
Buchanan was by this time fully committed to the extreme southern position and had cast aside every vestige of the impartiality he had avowed in the preceding year.  February 2, 1858, he sent the Lecompton constitution to Congress and recommended the admission of Kansas under it as a slave state.  He stigmatized the refusal of the Free State party to vote on December 21 as part of their "treasonable system," especially unpardonable, since at this time, "the all-important question" was submitted.  If they really wished to make Kansas a free state, he concluded, the only way they could do so was by submitting to the Lecompton constitution.  "It has been solemnly adjudged," he urged, "by the highest judicial tribunal...that slavery exists in Kansas by virtue of the Constitution of the United States.  Kansas is therefore at this moment as much a slave state as George or South Caroline."  By this action the irretrievable step was taken and the fate of the administration and the Democratic party was staked on the effort to force Kansas in as a slave state.  From the point of view of political expediency and of party management, no president ever made a worse mistake.
Citation:
John A. Garraty and Robart A. McCaughey, eds., The American Nation: A History of the United States (New York: Harper & Row, 198), 397.
Body Summary:
Shortly after the passage of the act [Fugitive Slave Law], a New Yorker, James Hamlet, was seized, convicted, and even rushed off to slavery in Maryland without even being allowed to communicate with his wife or children.  The New York black community was outraged, and with help from white neighbors it swiftly raised $800 to buy his freedon.  In 1851 Euphemia Williams, was seized, her presumed owner claiming also her six children, all Pennsylvania-born.  A federal judge released Mrs. Williams, but the case created alarm in the North.  Abolitionists often interfered with the enforcement of the law, even in cases where the black was unquestionably a runaway.  When two Georgians came to Boston to reclaim William and Ellen Craft, admitted fugitives, an abolitionist ''Vigilance Commitee' forced them to return home empty-handed.  The Crafts prudently - or perhaps in disgusts- decided to leave the United States for England.  Early in 1851, a Virginia agent captured Frederick "Shadrach" Wilkins, a waiter in a Boston coffee house.  While Wilkins was being held for deportation, a mob of blacks broke into the courthouse and freed him.  That October a slave named Jerry, who had escaped from Missouri, was arrested in Syracuse, New York.  Within minutes the whole town had the news.  Crowds surged through the streets, and when night fell, a mob smashed into the building where Jerry was being held and spirited him away to safety.
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