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The Constitution in CongressDescent into the Maelstrom, 1829-1861$
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David P. Currie

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226129167

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226131160.001.0001

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The Winter of Our Discontent

The Winter of Our Discontent

(p.225) 10 The Winter of Our Discontent
The Constitution in Congress
University of Chicago Press

The Democratic Party split in two in 1860 over Southern demands for the endorsement of a territorial slave code. Five states had taken the first steps toward secession before Congress met in December 1860. Each House hastened to appoint a special committee to consider, as Virginia Representative Alexander Boteler put it, “the present perilous condition of the country.” John Crittenden of Kentucky, Henry Clay's successor and disciple in the Senate, emulated his great mentor by proposing a package of constitutional amendments designed to settle all outstanding issues relating to slavery. The Virginia Senator offered a resolution to suspend the operation of certain federal laws in the seceding states. The Indiana Representative proposed that the postal service in the states in which federal judges and enforcement officers had resigned was to be suspended because it was impracticable to collect fees or protect the mails.

Keywords:   Virginia, slavery, federal laws, seceding states, territorial slave code

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