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The 1850's Constitution: An Instrument of National Unity

By the 1850's the Constitution, originally framed as an instrument of national unity, had become a source of sectional discord and tension and ultimately contributed to the failure of the union it had created. It is true that the Constitution was seen as a source of conflict. This was felt by both the presidents, the leaders of the time, and common people. One reason why the Constitution brought all of that trouble was because of the difference of the interpretations of the Constitution between the north and the south. Many people and each president of the time period of 1850-1861 made direct statements about how and why the Constitution was the source of the problem.

The presidents had a lot to deal with. Conflict between the north and south was high, and there were other worries, like the panic of 1857 to worry about. President Davis, in his message to the Confederate Congress stated that the Constitution was unable to prevent the growth of a political school that was wrong in his opinion. This was a problem in the interpretation of the Constitution- the northerners were supportive of a federal government and the southerners favored state's rights. President Buchanan pointed out that the southern states were backed up by the Constitution were allowed to decide if they wanted to withdraw, or to keep slaves, because matters not in the Constitution were left up to them. The Constitution is the conflict here because it is again about the interpretation of the Constitution whether the states are allowed to decide if they could secede, because there was nothing saying that they could, but also nothing stating that they could not. President Lincoln's problem was like Buchanan's. The problem was that the south felt they could destroy the union, because it is within their so-called "state rights”. But Lincoln argues that no state has a right to destroy the Constitution or the union. Since this secession conflict affected not...

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The 1850's Constitution: An Instrument of National Unity. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 21:14, November 24, 2015, from