It is that time of the year when I have to put Class Notes on pause for a while. Today is my last day of the semester. I am teaching American History from 1789-1865 in June and will pick back up then. I will continue with my Historically Speaking columns in the meantime.
By 1858 the Democrats were the only remaining national party. They looked strong going into the 1860 election, however, there were growing sectional tensions that threatened to tear them apart. The concept of Popular Sovereignty or allowing territories to choose for themselves if they were to be free or slave, had always held the party together. If the territories made their own decisions and the Congress was forced to accept their decision, then the congressional Democrats did not have to debate slavery. However, in 1857 the Dred Scott decision said all states were open to slavery, so now southern Democrats no longer supported Popular Sovereignty, but yet northern Democrats still did.
See you in June.