How President Buchanan Deepened Divisions Over Slavery Before the Civil War

When James Buchanan gave his inaugural address on March 4, 1857, he was remarkably optimistic about the end of the United States debate on slavery. Knowing the Supreme Court would soon rule against Dred Scott — a man who had escaped slavery in the south only to be recaptured in the north — he believed the ruling would settle the slavery debate and urge white Americans to stop. to argue about it. .

“It will be very fortunate for the country when the public mind is diverted from this matter to others of more pressing and practical importance,” he said in his speech.

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