The Amistad and Dred Scott Affairs:Heresthetics and Beliefs in the AntiBellum States, 1837-1860
Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election in 1860 partly because of a split in the Democratic Party between Douglas and Breckenridge. This split destroyed the compromise over slavery that, in some sense, had been embedded or hidden within the Constitution. This paper identifies the beginning of the split in the party with the defeat of the gag-rule by a coalition of Northern Whigs and Democrats in 1844. The reason for the split was anger by Northern Democrats against their Southern allies, over the election of James Polk, a slaveholder from Tennessee, to the Democratic presidential nomination. This betrayal was directed against ex-president Martin van Buren, because of his reactions to the Amistad slave case tried in U.S. courts in 1839-40. While the Amistad case started the Democratic split, the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court in 1857 gave Lincoln the means by which to change the beliefs of the Northern electorate about the moral acceptability of the compromise over slavery.
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Volume (Year): 16 (1999)
Issue (Month): ()
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