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

March 9, 1854

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President Franklin Pierce Warmly Endorses the Kansas-Nebraska Act as "Demonstrably Right and Patriotic"
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 966

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      Background

      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      The Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and granted the settlers of those two new northern territories the right to decide for themselves whether or not they would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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      Washington
      March 9th 1854
       
      My dear Sir
       
      I have just received your pleasant note of the 6th with the paper long since forgotten by me herewith returned -  I cannot help thinking now that my suspicions about the Millionaire [?] were about the truth. I am exceedingly pressed by public engagements, but I sometimes think that it is well that it should be so. My private hours ever since the loss of my last

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      noble boy have been desolate -  Independent of the concentration of my affections & hopes upon him and my consequent inevitable and inexpressible sorrow, which time alone can assuage, never came – nor do I desire it – then is the desolateness of being childless -  But let me not trouble you - What I intended to say was, that (altho' there is doubtless no occasion for saying it) if you should have occasion for an accommodation of ($500) five hundred dollars, you can have it from me upon your own note - With regard to public affairs I know you always, (to use the phrase of the day) Keep posted up - The Nebraska Bill

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       is of course the absorbing question now, as it is in the Country. 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 -
       
      With regard to the little matter you mention at Concord, I think it is not in existence, but Judge [...] is here and I will tell him to send it to you if among my papers - See the endorsement on the back of the enclosed note - I confidently anticipate a glorious result from N.H. Write me as soon as the election is over -

      In haste
      Yr friend 

      FRANK PIERCE


      Hon. L.B. Walker
      Meredith Bridge N.H.

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      Page 4 transcript

      Letter from F. Pierce
      9th March 1854 -