Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis

Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis

by Michael Todd Landis

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In the decade before the Civil War, Northern Democrats, although they ostensibly represented antislavery and free-state constituencies, made possible the passage of such proslavery legislation as the Compromise of 1850 and Fugitive Slave Law of the same year, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the Lecompton Constitution of 1858. In Northern Men with Southern Loyalties, Michael Todd Landis forcefully contends that a full understanding of the Civil War and its causes is impossible without a careful examination of Northern Democrats and their proslavery sentiments and activities. He focuses on a variety of key Democratic politicians, such as Stephen Douglas, William Marcy, and Jesse Bright, to unravel the puzzle of Northern Democratic political allegiance to the South. As congressmen, state party bosses, convention wire-pullers, cabinet officials, and presidents, these men produced the legislation and policies that led to the fragmentation of the party and catastrophic disunion.

Through a careful examination of correspondence, speeches, public and private utterances, memoirs, and personal anecdotes, Landis lays bare the desires and designs of Northern Democrats. He ventures into the complex realm of state politics and party mechanics, drawing connections between national events and district and state activity as well as between partisan dynamics and national policy. Northern Democrats had to walk a perilously thin line between loyalty to the Southern party leaders and answering to their free-state constituents. If Northern Democrats sought high office, they would have to cater to the "Slave Power." Yet, if they hoped for election at home, they had to convince voters that they were not mere lackeys of the Southern grandees.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801454820
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 11/20/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 344
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Todd Landis is Assistant Professor of History at Tarleton State University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Democrats and the Slave Power1. "Fidelity and Firmness": Northern Democrats and the Crises of 18502. "Harmony, Unity, and Victory": State Politics and Presidential Posturing3. "One of the Most Reliable Politicians upon This Subject of Slavery": The Rewards of Fidelity and the Perils of Power4. "Pandora's Box": Northern Democrats in Command5. "Leave Us of the North to Fight the Great Battle": Party Punishments and Purges6. "The Strongest Northern Man on Southern Principles": James Buchanan and Southern Power7. "Let Us Stand by Our Colors": Lecompton and Minority Rule8. "We Regarded You as Brothers": Defeat and Division9. "Though the Heavens Fall": 1860 and BeyondNotes

What People are Saying About This

Elizabeth R. Varon

"In this crisply argued book, Michael Todd Landis provides an exposé of the inner machinations of the Slave Power conspiracy: how proslavery Northern Democrats, in deference to the party's Southern grandees, used machine politics, bribery, patronage, fear-mongering and intimidation to try to purge the party of antislavery voices. Landis’s argument that doughface politicians willfully defied the wishes of their constituents is provocative and insightful."

Jonathan Earle

"Northern Men with Southern Loyalties is an archival tour de force informed by original and insightful research. Michael Todd Landis writes well and makes dizzyingly complex political struggles clear and straightforward. His accounts of the Buchanan administration's dealings with the Dred Scott decision and the Lecompton controversy are among the best I have read."

Eric H. Walther

"Michael Todd Landis thoroughly proves with primary sources that northern Democrats truly did sell their political souls to southerners. Amazingly to me, Landis includes the voices of politicians' constituents on these matters. From both the North and the South, these voices reinforce his arguments, his keen analysis, and his observations. Northern Men with Southern Loyalties covers an important topic, and the author's mining of archival sources is truly remarkable."

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