- Hardly had the exultation of victory and accomplishment cooled, when the nation found itself face to face with an old problem, which it had hoped was a dead issue. The application of California for statehood was not covered by the Missouri Compromise. The Southerners fought to hold their equal advantage in the Senate – they had long ago lost the House. In the end they had to take the “half loaf” which the Compromise of 1850 offered, but they were unhappy and fearful of the future. Yet a few years of prosperity lulled all into a feeling of security and hopes began to build. Then came the question of the route of the transcontinental railroad. Next, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. From 1854 the way led steadily downhill toward sectional conflict, this time with guns, rather than orators, barking. The Republican Party was uncompromisingly a Northern, anti-slavery faction – the last real bond which had hitherto resisted sectional friction was now gone, the national political party. The South was outnumbered in the legislature. Its victory in the judiciary – the Dred Scott decision – only roused its opponents to more determined action. The success of the Lincoln candidacy could mean the coup de grace. The South conditioned itself for that possibility.
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