Sectional rivalries in the United States greatly increased during the administrations of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. Discuss these tensions, making sure to discuss the attempts by the Pierce administration to expand the United States, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the resulting crisis in Kansas, the roles played by Sara Robinson and David Atchinson during these events, and the Dred Scott case.


Sectional Rivalries - anti-slavery and popular sovereignty - North and South - pro-expansion and anti-expansion

Thesis: This essay will discuss the ways in which the North and South disagreed over the topic of expansion of slavery in the United States.


Market Revolution - population in North exceeded that in the South but the South held power:

  • dominated Presidency
  • North West Ordinance - no slavery in North/Western territories - Compromise of 1850 (Fugitive Slave Act) - Kansas and Nebraska left to popular sovereignty - pro-slavery; free labor movement (slavery was expanding therefore whites were threatened - free labor cannot compete with slave labor)

Pierce Administration: in order to encourage nationalism there had to be expansion - expansion often brought the question of slavery

  • Gadsden Purchase - southern strip of land - railroad to New Orleans to the West ($10M) - favors the South
  • Ostend Manifesto - Cuba - already had an established institution of slavery - Spain owned it - trade
  • Sarah Robinson case - abolitionist in Kansas / Atchison (Border Ruffians) was a ballot stuffer in Kansas - Robinson was an author who published a book speaking out against troubles in Kansas

Pierce Administration: Northern President that was sympathetic to the South - furthered their notion of a conspiracy; Kansas-Nebraska Act under Pierce -> Whig party collapses -> national parties no longer -> Southerners create the Democratic Party -> party system is now territorial - also led to Bleeding Kansas - John Brown

Buchanan Administration: Democrat - slave conspiracy Election 1856 from Pennsylvania : Kansas had to become a slave state -> voters refuses statehood (confirmed slave conspiracy) and Kansas remains a territory

  • Dred Scott case - Buchanan tried to influence the court -> overused power as President -> Taney ordered the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional (already defected as a result of the Compromise of 1850) -> further protect slavery and strengthen the South's position in the government -> Congress cannot ban slavery in the territories opening slavery up to all territories
  • Lincoln - Douglas Debates: Lincoln called a slave lover -> confirmed him as a viable candidate for the Republican Party
Buchanan: President, Congress were ineffective and the Judiciary was pro-slavery

Conclusion: North could not trust that the government did not represent their wishes -> slave/Southern conspiracy - protect the Union; United the North - Lincoln's election -> Lower South secedes -> Fort Sumter -> Civil War