A House Divided
THE GIANT whistle on Bruen's Foundry at Lexington ushered in with hoarse blasts the first day of January, 1849, and gay, midnight watch parties at the Phoenix Hotel and in private homes greeted the New Year with popping corks, sparkling tumblers, songs, and merry jest.
Scarcely, however, had the shouts of welcome died away when the "smouldering volcano" of slavery belched again into flames which raged fiercely through spring and summer into late autumn, unchecked by pestilence and bloodshed, giving to Abraham Lincoln "his first real specific alarm about the institution of slavery."1
After several weeks of sharp skirmishing the antislavery forces achieved what seemed to be a signal victory for the cause of emancipation. Early in February a reluctant legislature issued the call for a convention to assemble on October 1, 1849, to draft a new state constitution, for which delegates were to be chosen at the August election. For more than a decade the enemies of freedom had forestalled every effort to revise the organic law because they feared the adoption of provisions