A HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR
Causes leading to Secession-The Fugitive-Slave Law-Fillmore's administration-Election of General Pierce-Senator Douglas' bill for two vast Territories-Raids in Central America-Struggle begun in Kansas.
It was believed by superficial thinkers and observers that the Compromise Act of 1850 had quieted, forever, all controversy on the subject of slavery; and during his entire administration, President Fillmore gave his support to all the measures embraced in that act. When his administration closed in the spring of 1853, there seemed to be very little uneasiness in the public mind on the subject of slavery. But it was only the ominous calm that precedes the bursting of a tempest. The moral sense of the people in the free labor States (and of thousands in the slave-labor States) had been shocked by the passage of the Fugitive-Slave Law, which compelled every person to become a slave catcher, under certain circumstances, willing or not willing. That law was so much at variance with Christian ethics and the civilization of the age, that a multitude of persons in all parts of the Union yearned to see it wiped from our national statute books as an ugly blot; and, pondering upon it, many persons who had been indifferent, felt a desire to have a check put upon the further expansion of the system of slavery in our republic. This feeling and the avowed intention of the supporters of that system "not to make it a national and not a mere sectional institution, produced violent collisions in speech, and, finally, a most sanguinary civil war. The Fugitive Slave Law, framed by James M. Mason of Virginia, had much to do with bringing on that terrible crisis in our history.
When Mr. Fillmore's administration was drawing to a close, nominations for his successor were made. A Democratic national convention assembled at Baltimore, in June, 1852, nominated General Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, for President, and William R. King, of Alabama, for Vice-President. A Whig national convention assembled at the same place in the same month, and nominated General Winfield Scott for President, and William A. Graham of North Carolina for Vice-President. The Democratic nominees were elected, and on the 4th of March 1853, President Fillmore retired to private life. One of the most important of the closing events of his administration was the creation, by act of Congress, of a new Territory called Washington, which was carved out of the northern part of Oregon. The bill for this purpose became a law on the 2nd of March, 1853.
General Pierce took the oath of office as President of the United States, upon a platform of New Hampshire pine, which had been erected at the eastern portico of the Capitol. It was administered in the presence of thousands of people, who stood in a storm of driving sleet as witnesses of the august ceremony. President Pierce chose for his cabinet William L. Marcy, Secretary of State; James Guthrie, Secretary of the Treasury; Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War; James C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy; Robert McClelland, Secretary of the Interior; James Campbell, Postmaster-General, and Caleb Cushing, Attorney-General.
An unexpected movement now aroused a vehement discussion of the slavery question. In January, 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas presented a bill in the Senate for the erection of two vast Territories in mid-continent, to be called, respectively, Kansas and Nebraska. The bill provided for giving permission to the inhabitants of those Territories to decide for themselves whether slavery should or should not exist within their domain. This proposed nullification of the Missouri Compromise produced
NOTE-EXPLANATION' FOR COLOR FRONTISPIECE, GRANT IN THE WILDERNESS - The Battle of the Wilderness began on the fifth day of May, 1864. "On the morning of the seventh," writes Grant in his report, "it was evident to my mind that the two days fighting had satisfied the enemy of his inability to further maintain the contest in the open field. I determined to push on, therefore, and put my whole force between him and Richmond, and orders were issued for a movement by his right flank. On the night of the seventh the march was commenced." The artist shows us the great commander riding along where his weary soldiers are stretched on the earth for rest, after the day's battle. When they see their indomitable commander they rise and salute him. On the right a soldier, perhaps wounded, sits up to see his general go by. In the picture a touch of characteristic life is given to the figure of Grant in the cigar held between his fingers, and the realism of the scene is heightened by the trunks and foliage of the trees beneath which his staff is grouped.