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A History of the Republican Party by Platt

The opprobrium of nullification and secession


Compromise of 1820 practically settled the slavery question for twenty-five years, for the question only came up in a serious form when new territory was acquired and the manner of its division arose. No more States were admitted until 1836, when Arkansas became a State, to be balanced by the admission of Michigan in 1837. From 1820 to 1845 the main issues before the people were those relating to the Tariff, Re-chartering the Bank of the United States, and Internal improvements.

The greatest political excitement, having an important bearing upon the feeling between the North and South, was the opposition of the South to the protective Tariffs of 1824 and 1828, and to the question of Internal improvements. As a culmination of her opposition, South Carolina passed a Nullification Ordinance in 1832, based upon the doctrine of State rights as advocated by John C. Calhoun, but the difficulty was settled by Clay's Compromise Tariff Bill of 1833. The opprobrium of nullification and secession, however, does not rest entirely with the South; the Federal Press of New England and many Federal leaders in Congress deliberately discussed and planned a Secession Movement in 1803-4 because they thought that the purchase of the Louisiana Territory was unconstitutional and that it would give the South an advantage which the North would never overcome. This movement, however, never gained strength enough to be serious.

One result

of the Missouri Compromise, most important in its political effect, was that it created a solid South, and divided the North into various opinions as to what should exactly be done to meet the evil. It was this uncertainty on the part of the North and the lack of organization on the direct subject of slavery opposition that permitted the South to hold out so long after she had been greatly outnumbered in population and left far behind in material progress.



"If we have whispered Truth, Whisper no longer; Speak as the tempest does, Sterner and stronger."

"Song of the Free," _Whittier_, 1836.

Great changes in the political and economical life of a nation seldom take place abruptly. The forces responsible for a change or modification of conditions are generally at work long before the final result. Nations, like individuals, grope for the truth, forming different opinions, trying different plans--now radical, now conservative--often failing to see and grasp the solution when it is at hand, but all the while bringing about conditions which, when the crisis comes, form a solid and decisive basis for action. Such is the history of this country with reference to slavery for the three decades prior to the Civil War. From 1833 to the organization of the Republican Party, and after that event to the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation, public opinion was incessantly agitated by the organized efforts of the Abolitionists, although they differed among themselves and divided as to the best plan under which to act.

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