Impending Crisis By David M. Potter

1124 Words Aug 1st, 2015 5 Pages
The 1850s were believed to be a period of compromise to prevent Southern secession from the Union. Instead, it brought more divisions along sectional lines, Northern Democrats and Northern Whigs (free-states) against the Southern Democrats and Southern Whigs (slave states). David M. Potter’s book Impending Crisis provides evidence of sectionalism between free and slave states. Potter contends that during the expansionist period of the 1840s the country was experiencing a growth of American nationalism, but “the emergence of the sectionalism which almost destroyed the nation was symbolized by an amendment to an appropriation bill which was never enacted.” For the next fifteen years the Wilmot Proviso (1846) and the issue of slavery would become “a catalyst of all sectional antagonisms, political, economic, and cultural…opened the floodgates of sectionalism, for now all the pent-up moral indignation which had been walled in by the constitutional inhibition could be vented into the territorial question.” Potter argues that there were four basic positions held by politicians of free and slave states and their views on solving the territorial issue. The first was David Wilmot’s, “that Congress possessed the power to regulate slavery in the territories and should use it for the total exclusion of the institution.” The second proposal was to extend the 36 degrees Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, allowing slavery south of this line. The third, known as the…
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