Booklist | ‘America’s Great Debate,’ by Fergus M. Bordewich – NYTimes.com

A tale of compromised (failed), much negotiation (“punishing”) and sad lessons from the debate of 1850 that ended up with a failed state North and South.

Clay’s grand compromise was finally voted down at the end of July. The center had not held; abolitionists and secessionists alike celebrated. Then Douglas went to work. His tactics, Bordewich writes, relied “less on grandiloquence than on tireless, mostly unrecorded negotiations, which were carried out as often as not over copious cups of wine” in a Senate snack bar called the Hole-in-the-Wall. The elements of Clay’s plan, once they stood alone, passed both the Senate and the House rapidly (the long months of prior discussion, and everyone’s weariness, no doubt sped the process). By the middle of September each compromise had passed. Douglas crowed: “We are united from shore to shore, and while the mighty West remained as the connecting link between the North and the South, there could be no disunion.”

via ‘America’s Great Debate,’ by Fergus M. Bordewich – NYTimes.com.

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