March 09, 1854

President Franklin Pierce Warmly Endorses the Kansas-Nebraska Act as “Demonstrably Right and Patriotic”

Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages
SMC 966
As the Kansas-Nebraska Act is being hotly debated, Pierce expresses his warm approval of the controversial measure – as he continues, in private, to mourn the death of his last surviving child. “The Nebraska Bill is of course the absorbing question now,” he writes. “To my mind it is demonstrably right and patriotic. I sustain it not on the ground, that there is a political necessity in the case, but because the principles it involves command the approbation of my conscience & my judgment.” In private, however, his hours are filled with “inevitable and inexpressible sorrow” at the loss of his “noble boy” and the “desolation of being childless.
The Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and granted the settlers of those two new northern territories the right to decide for themselves whether or not they would allow slavery within their borders. Its effect was terrible and divisive. Pierce’s “principles” split the nation in two: North and South, pro-slavery and anti-slavery, Republican and Democratic. And, too, the measure brought back into politics an outraged retired Congressman, Abraham Lincoln, who debated the Act with its sponsor, Stephen A. Douglas.
Autograph Letter Signed, as President, 4 pages, recto and verso, Washington, March 9, 1854. To the Hon. L.B. Walker in Meredith Bridge, New Hampshire.
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