Professor Blight narrates some of the important political crises of the 1850s. The lecture begins with an account of the Compromise of 1850, the swan song of the great congressional triumvirate--Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun. The lecture then describes northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act passed as part of the Compromise, and the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852. Professor Blight then introduces the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the most pivotal political event of the decade, and the catalyst for the birth of the Republican party.
Bruce Levine, Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of the Civil War, Introduction, chapters 7-10
William Gienapp, Civil War and Reconstruction: A Documentary Collection, part 1, pp. 40-55
Michael P. Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War, Introduction and parts 1-3, pp. 1-80