The F Street Mess: How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act

By Alice Elizabeth Malavasic | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Conspiracy

The order from Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant to Major General Henry W. Halleck1 was succinct, “Arrest R. M. T. Hunter and John A. Campbell and hold them prisoners in Richmond for further orders.”2 Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter of Virginia was a former U.S. senator. John Archibald Campbell of Alabama was a former justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Both men followed their states into secession and war in 1861. Hunter, who left Washington in March of that year, was expelled from the Senate in April. Campbell resigned from the court the same month. During the war Hunter served briefly as the Confederate secretary of state before resigning in 1862 to join the Confederate Senate. In that same year Campbell was appointed assistant secretary of war by Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Both men, along with Confederate vice president Alexander H. Stephens, were commissioners to the Hampton Roads Peace Conference held on February 3, 1865.3

Hunter and Campbell had been picked for the commission in part because of their prewar reputations as leading intellectuals within their respective branches of government. They also shared the kind of noble dispositions that had garnered them the friendship as well as the respect of their political adversaries. Though alike in so many ways, they were startling different physically, Hunter’s dark complexion the Ying to Campbell’s fair-complexioned Yang. They were both lawyers and strict constructionists. But whereas Hunter’s constitutionalism had led him to become a leading defender of slavery and states’ rights, Campbell, a Unionist, eschewed both. Nevertheless, in the months leading up to the war, Hunter like Campbell became involved in the Washington negotiations to avoid secession. Then, when secession came anyway, Campbell like Hunter followed his state.

By 1865 both men were among those in the Confederate government calling for a negotiated settlement to end the war. Jefferson Davis opposed settlement but, faced with growing calls for peace in Richmond, appointed Vice President Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell to the peace commission, knowing Lincoln

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The F Street Mess: How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Civil War America ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Conspiracy 1
  • Chapter One - Rivalries and Alliances 19
  • Chapter Two - Heirs of Calhoun 43
  • Chapter Three - Nebraska 60
  • Chapter Four - Senatorial Junta 81
  • Chapter Five - The Power to Repeal 111
  • Chapter Six - Kansas 143
  • Chapter Seven - We Must Settle This Question 171
  • Epilogue 189
  • Notes 199
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 261
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