The Politics of
Martin Van Buren“
“The Little Magician”
8 th President 1837-41
Vernon Maddux 16
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Compromise of 1850: This Legislation permits
slavery in the Northern Territories which upset the 1820 Missouri
Compromise balance between slave and “free” states.
• 1846. Wilmot Proviso fails
(no Mexican-derived territory should
1850 Slave population in the US
• 1850. Fugitive Slave Act is
greeted by an angry response in the
• 1852. Election of pro-slave
president James Buchanan.
• 1852. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
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12 th President 1849-50
“Old Rough & Ready”
• 1848. Whigs chose Taylor, a
Louisiana slaveholder who was no
Whig and had never voted.
• To soothe more traditional Whigs,
the convention picked stalwart
Millard Fillmore as vice-president.
• Taylor’s Whig victory held hope of
a solution that could end the
growth of slavery, but he proved
fiercely resistant even to the most
important Whig founders Henry
Clay and Daniel Webster.
• July 9 1850 At the peak of the
Sectionalism Crisis, Taylor died
unexpectedly after two years in
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Millard Fillmore 13 th President 1850-1853
• To ease the North-South crisis, the new
president Millard Fillmore asked for
resignations from Taylor's cabinet. He
then appointed Daniel Webster, the major
Northern advocate of compromise to be his
Secretary of State.
– Fillmore put Whig party hacks favorable to
compromise in every cabinet post.
• As fast as Congress passed COMPROMISE
of 1850 bills, Fillmore immediately signed
them –deeply irritating Southerners.
• Fillmore angered Northerners even more
by strictly enforcing the FUGITIVE
SLAVE LAW. This required Northern police
officers to capture and return escaped
slaves to Southern owners.
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• Southerners hated the idea of
restricting slavery in any way.
• Northern Abolitionists continually
attacked slavery in print.
• Fillmore’s aggressive Federal
policy of enforcing the fugitive
slave laws especially infuriated
people in New England.
• Northern black freemen were
liable to be captured illegally and
sent into Southern slavery.
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Harriet Beecher Stowe
“The little lady who made this big
Her father a famous preacher,
her cousin served with Custer in
Kansas and was killed by Sioux
Indians in 1868.
• 1811. Harriet Elizabeth Beecher was
born to Lyman Beecher, a famous
Connecticut evangelist preacher.
• 1836. She married Calvin E. Stowe
and had seven children.
• 1852. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin
in her despair after losing a child to
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UNCLE TOM’S CABIN 1852
Frightened, the mother flees
from slave hunters across icecovered
Ohio River with her
baby in her arms.
• UTC is an appealing story of a
slave family torn apart by cruel
• UTC first appeared as a serial in a
magazine: National Era.
• A run-away best-seller, the book
sold 5,000,000 copies worldwide,
several million in England.
• As an American stage play, it
appealed to a vast illiterate northern
public (especially Irish).
• Its message of family destruction
convinced even poor and racist
Northerners to pursue an end to
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“The Little Giant”
• Sen. Stephen Douglas proposed to build a
• This resulted in the Kansas-Nebraska Act
and “Bleeding Kansas.”
– LeCompton Constitution- Kansas.
• The rising Slavery crisis creates three new
Political Parties: “Know-Nothings,” “Anti-
Masons” and the “Republicans.”
• Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debates in
Illinois brings Lincoln to national attention
as a champion who would end slavery.
• Buchanan wins the election of 1856 and
does nothing to ease the crisis.
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Rep. Brooks attacks Sen. Sumner
During a debate over Kansas,
Sen. Charles Sumner of
Massachusetts openly scorned
SC Sen. Andrew P. Butler,
calling him “helpless without
slaves to tend to him.”
The next day Butler’s nephew,
SC Rep. Preston S. Brooks,
attacked Sumner with his cane
on the Senate floor.
Brooks beat Sumner so hard that
the cane broke apart.
Sumner was severely injured.
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“Dred Scott Decision”
1799 - 1858
• 1799. Dred Scott was born a
slave on the Peter Blow farm
in Southampton Co., Va.
• Although trained as a butler,
Scott remained illiterate.
• 1820. Blow sold the
Southampton farm and
moved with his slaves to St
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Harriett Robinson Scott
Dred Scott Decision
c1818 - c1867
• 1832. The slave owner sold Scott to
Army Surgeon Dr John Emerson who
transferred with his wife Irene, from St
Louis to Ft Snelling, Wisconsin
• 1836. At Ft Snelling, Dred Scott met
Harriett, a slave for Maj. Lawrence
Taliaferro, the fort’s Sioux Indian
• 1837. When approached by Dred and
Harriett, Taliaferro agreed to their
marriage, set Harriett free and, as
Justice of the Peace, even performed the
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Scott vs. Sanford
Dred Scott Decision
• Harriett and Dred had two daughters;
Eliza born 1838 on a Mississippi
riverboat and Lizzy born 1840, St Louis.
• 1843. Dr Emerson died and his widow
remarried, now Irene Sanford
• 1845. To increase her income, she hires
out Dred who offers to buy his freedom
for $300.00, but Irene refuses.
• 1846. Dred persuades local St Louis
lawyer to sue Irene Emerson-Sanford for
• 1857. After several victories and
reversals, the case goes to the Supreme
Court, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
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Roger Brooke Taney
Appointed by President Jackson as 5 th Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court
Roger B. Taney
His sister married
Francis Scott Key
Born March 17, 1777 on a slave plantation in
Calvert Co., Md, Taney (tawn-ee) was
educated by tutors until 15 then attended
Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.
When his father died, he freed all inherited
slaves, however remained sympathetic to
1857, Mar 6. Taney read his 56 page Scott vs.
Sanford decision two days after swearing in
the new president Buchanan.
The decision, though absolutely true to the
Constitution, stunned both sides of the slavery
issue, ending all attempts at legal compromise.
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Scott vs. Sanford
“A Supreme Court Decision that Nationalized Slavery”
Supported by five justices (vs. three), Taney decreed:
• Dred Scott was forever a slave regardless of where he lived.
• Under the Constitution, no black person, free or slave, could
ever be a citizen of the United States.
• The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of
1850 were unconstitutional because Congress had no power to
prohibit slavery within US territory.
Dred Scott becomes the central issue in the 1860
election. The Republican Party chose the abolition of
slavery as its only plank, nominating Abraham Lincoln
to be its uncompromising anti-slavery champion.
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John Brown 1800-1859
Southern Paranoid Fears
• Oct 16 1859 Harpers Ferry Sunday
at 11:00 p.m., John Brown and 20
followers (5 blacks) capture the
federal arsenal. Monday passes.
• Tues. at 1:00 a.m. Col. RE Lee, JEB
Stuart and a company of U.S.
Marines board a B&O train.
• At dawn Lee sends Stuart to demand
surrender. Stuart recognizes “Mr.
Smith” as John Brown, a radical
abolitionist he knew from Kansas.
• On Stuart’s signal, Marines storm the
arsenal and captured Brown.
• Dec. 2. 1859. Brown is hanged as a
martyr to slavery at Charlotte, Va.
• One of his guards is John Wilkes Booth.
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Election of 1860
Two Terms 16 th PotUS 1861-1865
• Born Sinking Spring Farm near
Hodgenville (Larue Co.), Ky.
• 1832. A lawyer, he was a
volunteer militia captain for 16
weeks in the Black Hawk War.
• 1856. Ran for US Senator from
Illinois; lost to Steven Douglas.
• 1860. Nominated for President by
the Republican Party. His only
promise was to end US slavery.
• He won easily, but received no
votes in the South.
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