CHAPTER XXVI. THE STRUGGLE FOR FREE SOIL
DRED SCOTT DECISION, 1857. - Two days after the inauguration of Buchanan, the Supreme Court made public a decision which threw the country into intense excitement. A slave named Dred Scott had been taken by his owner from Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to Minnesota, made free soil by the Compromise of 1820. When brought back to Missouri, Dred Scott sued for freedom. Long residence on free soil, he claimed, had made him free. The case finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided against him.  But in delivering the decision, Chief- Justice Taney announced: (1) that Congress could not shut slavery out of the territories, and (2) that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional and void.
THE TERRITORIES OPEN TO SLAVERY. - This decision confirmed all that the South had gained by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Compromise of 1850, and also opened to slavery Washington and Oregon, which were then free territories.
If the court supposed that its decision would end the struggle, it was much mistaken. Not a year went by but some incident occurred which added to the excitement.
LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBATE. - In 1858 the people of Illinois were to elect a legislature which would choose a senator to succeed Stephen A. Douglas. The Democrats declared for Douglas. The Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln,  and as the canvass proceeded the two candidates traversed the state, holding a series of debates. The questions discussed were popular sovereignty, the Dred Scott decision, and the extension of slavery into the territories, and the debates attracted the attention of the whole country. Lincoln was defeated; but his speeches gave him a national reputation. 
JOHN BROWN AT HARPERS FERRY. - In 1859 John Brown, a lifelong enemy of slavery, went to Harpers Ferry, Virginia, with a little band of followers, to stir up an insurrection and free the slaves. He was captured, tried for murder and treason, and hanged. The attempt was a wild one; but it caused intense excitement in both the North and the South, and added to the bitter feeling which had long existed between the two sections. 
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1860. - The Democrats were now so divided on the slavery issues that when they met in convention at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1860, the party was rent in twain, and no candidates were chosen. Later in the year the Northern wing nominated Stephen A. Douglas for President. The Southern delegates, at a convention of their own, selected John C. Breckinridge.
Another party made up of old Whigs and Know-nothings nominated John Bell of Tennessee. This was the Constitutional Union party. The Republicans  named Abraham Lincoln and carried the election. 
1. The Compromise of 1850 was supposed to settle the slavery issues, and the two great parties pledged themselves to support it.
2. But the issues were not settled, and in 1854 the organization of Kansas and Nebraska reopened the struggle.
3. The Kansas-Nebraska bill and the contest over Kansas split both the Whig party and the Democratic party, and by the union of those who left them, with the Free-soilers, the Republican party was made, 1854-56.
4. In 1857 the Supreme Court declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, and opened all territories to slavery.
5. In 1858 this decision and other slavery issues were debated by Lincoln and Douglas.
6. This debate made Lincoln a national character, and in 1860 he was elected President by the Republican party.
 Franklin Pierce was born in New Hampshire in 1804, and died in 1869. He began his political career in the state legislature, went to Congress in 1833, and to the United States Senate in 1837. In the war with Mexico, Pierce rose from the ranks to a brigadier generalship. He was a bitter opponent of anti-slavery measures; but when the Civil War opened he became a Union man.
 The electoral vote was, for Pierce, 254; for Scott, 42. The popular vote was, for Pierce, 1,601,474; for Scott, 1,386,580; for Hale, 155,667.
 Stephen A. Douglas was born in Vermont in 1813, went west in 1833, was made attorney-general of Illinois in 1834, secretary of state and judge of the supreme court of Illinois in 1840, a member of Congress in 1843, and of the United States Senate in 1847. He was a small man, but one of such mental power that he was called "the Little Giant." He was a candidate for the presidential nomination in the Democratic conventions of 1852 and 1856, and in 1860 was nominated by the Northern wing of that party. He was a Union man.
 For popular opinion on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, read Rhodes's History of the U. S., Vol. I, pp. 461-470.
 Proslavery men from Missouri and other Southern states founded Atchison, Leavenworth, Lecompton, and Kickapoo, in the northeastern part of Kansas. Free-state men from the North founded Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Osawatomie, in the east-central part of the territory.
 In 1856 border war raged in Kansas, settlers were murdered, property destroyed, and the free-state town of Lawrence was sacked by the proslavery men. In 1857 the proslavery party made a slave-state constitution at Lecompton and applied for admission, and the Senate (1858) voted to admit Kansas under it; but the House refused. In 1859 the Free- soilers made a second (the Wyandotte) constitution, under which Kansas was admitted into the Union (1861).