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General
prosperity prevailed, but all felt the urgent need of a railroad
connecting Missouri and California. The Pacific coast had become a
leading part of the Union and its importance was growing every year. But
the building of such a railway, through thousands of miles of
wilderness, across lofty mountains and large rivers, was an undertaking
so gigantic and expensive as to be beyond the reach of private parties,
without congressional assistance. Still all felt that the road must be
built, and, in 1853, Congress ordered surveys to be made in order to
find the best route. The building of the railway, however, did not begin
until the War for the Union was well under way.


PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1852.

When the time arrived for presidential nominations, the Democratic
convention met in Baltimore, June 12, 1852. The most prominent
candidates were James Buchanan, Stephen A. Douglas, Lewis Cass, and
William L. Marcy. There was little variance in their strength for
thirty-five ballots, and everybody seemed to be at sea, when the
Virginia delegation, on the next ballot, presented the name of Franklin
Pierce of New Hampshire.

"Who is Franklin Pierce?" was the question that went round the hall,
but, on the forty-ninth ballot, he received 282 votes to 11 for all the
others, and the question was repeated throughout the United States.
Pierce's opponent was General Winfield Scott, the commander-in-chief in
the Mexican War, who had done fine service in the War of 1812, and ranks
among the foremost military leaders of our country. But, personally, he
was unpopular, overbearing in his manners, a martinet, and without any
personal magnetism. No doubt he regarded it as an act of impertinence
for Pierce, who had been his subordinate in Mexico, to presume to pit
himself against him in the political field. But the story told by the
November election was an astounding one and read as follows:

Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, Democrat, 254; Winfield Scott, of New
Jersey, Whig, 42; John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, Free Democrat, 0;
Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts, Whig, 0. For Vice-President: William
R. King, of Alabama, Democrat, 254; William A. Graham, of North
Carolina, Whig, 42; George W. Julian, of Indiana, Free Democrat, 0.

The Whig convention which put Scott in nomination met also in Baltimore,
a few days after the Democratic convention. Webster was confident of
receiving the nomination, and it was the disappointment of his life
that he failed. The "Free Democrats," who placed candidates in
nomination, represented those who were dissatisfied with the various
compromise measures that had been adopted by Congress. The only States
carried by Scott were Vermont, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Tennessee.


FRANKLIN PIERCE.

[Illustration: FRANKLIN PIERCE.

(1804-1869.) One term, 1853-1857.]

Franklin Pierce, the fourteenth President, was born at Hillsborough, New
Hampshire, November 23, 1804. Upon his graduation from Bowdoin College,
he became a successful lawyer. He always showed a fondness for military
matters, though not to the extent of neglecting politics and his
profession. He was elected to his State Legislature and was a member of
Congress from 1833 to 1837, and, entering the Senate in 1839, he
remained until 1842, afterward declining a cabinet appointment from
President Polk. He volunteered in the Mexican War, commanded a brigade,
and showed great gallantry in several battles. He died October 8, 1869.

Mr. King, the Vice-President, was in such feeble health that he took the
oath of office in Cuba, and, returning to his native State, died April
18, 1853, being the first vice-president to die in office. One
remarkable fact should be stated regarding the administration of Pierce:
there was not a change in his cabinet throughout his whole term, the
only instance of the kind thus far in our history.


A TREATY WITH JAPAN.

It seems strange that until a few years, Japan was a closed nation to
the world. Its people refused to have anything to do with any other
country, and wished nothing from them except to be let alone. In 1854,
Commodore M.C. Perry visited Japan with an American fleet and induced
the government to make a commercial treaty with our own. This was the
beginning of the marvelous progress of that country in civilization and
education, which forms one of the most astonishing records in the
history of mankind. Japan's overwhelming defeat of China, whose
population is ten times as great as our own; her acceptance of the most
advanced ideas of civilization, and the wisdom of her rulers have
carried her in a few years to a rank among the leading powers and
justified the appellation of the "Yankees of the East," which is
sometimes applied to her people.


FILIBUSTERING.

Pierce's administration was marked by a number of filibustering
expeditions against Spanish possessions in the West Indies. None of them
succeeded, and a number of the leaders were shot by the Spanish
authorities. The American government offered to purchase Cuba of Spain,
but that country indignantly replied that the mints of the world had not
coined enough gold to buy it. Could she have foreseen the events of
1898, no doubt she would have sold out for a moderate price.

In August, 1854, President Pierce directed Mr. Buchanan, minister to
England, Mr. Mason, minister to France, and Mr. Soule, envoy to Spain,
to meet at some convenient place and discuss the question of obtaining
possession of Cuba. These distinguished gentlemen met at Ostend on the
9th of October, and adjourned to Aix-la-Chapelle, from which place they
issued, on the 18th of October, what is known as the "Ostend Manifesto
or Circular," in which they recommended the purchase of Cuba, declaring
that, if Spain refused to sell, the United States would be justified "by
every law, human and divine," in wresting it from her. This declaration,
for which there was no justification whatever, caused angry protest in
Europe and in the free States of our country, but was ardently applauded
in the South. Nothing came of it, and the country soon became so
absorbed in the slavery agitation that it was forgotten.


THE "KNOW NOTHINGS."

Patriotic men, who feared what was coming, did all in their power to
avert it. One of these attempts was the formation of the "Know Nothing"
party, which grew up like a mushroom and speedily acquired a power that
enabled it to carry many local elections in the various States. It was a
secret organization, the members of which were bound by oath to oppose
the election of foreign-born citizens to office. The salutation, when
one member met another, was, "Have you seen Sam?" If one of them was
questioned about the order, his reply was that he knew nothing, from
which the name was given to what was really the Native American party.
It soon ran its course, but has been succeeded in its cardinal
principles by the American Protective Association of the present day.

Meanwhile, the slavery question was busy at its work of disintegration.
The Democratic party was held together for a time by the Compromise of
1850, to the effect that the inhabitants of the new Territories of New
Mexico and Utah should be left to decide for themselves the question of
slavery. In a few years the settlements in Nebraska and Kansas made it
necessary to erect territorial governments there, and the question of
slavery was thus brought before Congress again. The Missouri Compromise
forbade slavery forever in those sections, for both of them lie to the
north parallel of 36 30'. Stephen A. Douglas, however, and a number of
other Democratic leaders in Congress claimed that the Compromise of 1850
nullified this agreement, and that the same freedom of choice should be
given to the citizens of Kansas and Nebraska as was given to those in
Utah and New Mexico. This policy was called "Squatter Sovereignty."


THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE.

The bill was bitterly fought in Congress, but it passed the Senate by a
vote of thirty-seven to fourteen, and after another fierce struggle was
adopted in the House by a vote of 113 to 100. It received several
amendments, and the President signed it May 31, 1854. Thus the Missouri
Compromise was repealed and the first note of civil war sounded. The
question of slavery was opened anew, and could never be closed without
the shedding of blood to an extent that no one dreamed.

[Illustration: LUCRETIA MOTT.

The advance agent of emancipation. (1793-1880.)]


FORMATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

The enforcement of the fugitive slave law was resisted in the North and
numerous conflicts took place. During the attempted arrest of Anthony
Burns in Boston a deputy-sheriff was shot dead, and Federal troops from
Rhode Island had to be summoned before Burns could be returned to
slavery. Former political opponents began uniting in both sections. In
the North the opponents of slavery, comprising Democrats, Free-Soilers,
Know Nothings, Whigs, and Abolitionists, joined in the formation of the
"Anti-Nebraska Men," and under that name they elected, in 1854, a
majority of the House of Representatives for the next Congress. Soon
after the election, the new organization took the name of Republicans,
by which they are known to-day. Its members, with a few exceptions among
the Germans in Missouri and the Ohio settlers in western Virginia,
belonged wholly to the North.


CIVIL WAR IN KANSAS.

Kansas became for the time the battle-ground between slavery and
freedom. Societies in the North sent emigrants into Kansas, first
furnishing them with Bibles and rifles, while the pro-slavery men
swarmed thither from Missouri, and the two parties fought each other
like Apache Indians. In the midst of the civil war, a territorial
legislature was formed, and in many instances the majority of the
candidates elected was double that of the voting population in the
district. Governor A.H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania, had been appointed
governor of the Territory, and, finding himself powerless to check the
anarchy, went to Washington in April, 1855, to consult with the
government.



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