The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930

THE
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL
QUARTERLY
VoL. XXXIII OCTOBER, 1929 No. 2
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed by
contributors to THE QUARTERLY
THE NATURAL LIMITS OF SLAVERY EXPANSION*
CHARLES W. RAMSDELL
In the forefront of that group of issues which, for more than
a decade before the secession of the cotton states, kept the
northern and southern sections of the United States in irritat-
ing controversy and a growing sense of enmity, was the ques-
tion whether the federal government should permit and protect
the expansion of slavery into the western territories. If it be
granted that this was not at all times the foremost cause of
controversy between the sections, it must be acknowledged that
no other question was the subject of such continuous and wide-
spread interest nor of such acrimonious debate. While behind
it lay the larger question whether slavery should be allowed to
persist permanently where it already existed, it was this imme-
diate problem of the extension of the institution that gave ex-
citement to the political contests of 1843 to 1845, of 1847 to 1851,
and of 1854 to 1860. It was upon this particular issue that a new
and powerful sectional party appeared in 1854, that the majority
of the Secessionists of the cotton states predicated their action
in 1860 and 1861, and it was upon this also, that President-elect
Lincoln forced the defeat of the compromise measures in the
winter of 1860-61. It seems safe to say that had this question
been eliminated or settled amicably, there would have been no
secession and no Civil War.
*Reprinted by permission from the Mississippi Valley Historical Re-
view, XVI, 151-171 (September, 1929).

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/. Accessed September 16, 2014.