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Disunion!The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859$
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Elizabeth R. Varon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832325

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887189_varon

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War to the Knife: Images of the Coming Fight

War to the Knife: Images of the Coming Fight

(p.305) 9 War to the Knife: Images of the Coming Fight

Elizabeth R. Varon

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the antislavery consensus that the Dred Scott decision was a link in a chain of portentous events by which the Slave Power escalated its claims that the Constitution protected slavery in perpetuity. This consensus soon found affirmation in Kansas. Railing against the proslavery Lecompton constitution that had been forced on Kansans, Congressman John Bingham, a prominent Ohio Republican, declared in a January 25, 1858, speech that the Lecompton government and the Dred Scott ruling embodied the same “precise principle” and the same “stupendous lie”: that “one class of men have no rights which another are bound to respect.” The Kansas and Supreme Court ruses alike, Bingham insisted, were the workings of a “base conspiracy” to perpetuate “the wild and guilty fantasy of property in man.”

Keywords:   antislavery consensus, Dred Scott, Slave Power, Kansas, Lecompton constitution, Congressman John Bingham, Ohio Republican

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