by Robert Spencer

My latest in the American Thinker: The murder of Trump supporter Jay Bishop by Black Lives Matter rioter Michael Reinoehl in Portland Saturday night was a watershed moment, an introduction of the political violence that has been common in many other countries but has seldom been seen in America. However, it does have antecedents: the heated runup to the Civil War is the most exact analogy, which is not all that surprising given that we may now be careening toward a second one.

The political violence broke out in the Kansas Territory. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois was the main architect of the principle of popular sovereignty, the idea that slavery would be approved or outlawed in the new territories by popular vote. Douglas, who had presidential aspirations, drafted the Kansas-Nebraska Act to establish new territories by those names in part of the land that had been acquired in the Louisiana Purchase and was still unorganized. The act stipulated that Kansas and Nebraska would decide by popular sovereignty whether to allow slavery or not. Since both territories lay north of the 36°30′ parallel, slavery should have been outlawed in both of them, according to the Missouri Compromise.

That should have been the end of the matter, with popular sovereignty definitively ruled out for Kansas and Nebraska. Instead, Douglas and his allies were determined to repeal the Missouri Compromise and won President Franklin Pierce over to the idea that doing so would be the best way to bring peace to the nation once and for all over the slavery question. Slavery would be voted up or down in various states and territories, and all would be well.

Congress approved the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Pierce signed it, and all was not well. As Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster explains, the fatal weakness of the principle of popular sovereignty immediately became obvious: proponents and foes of slavery rushed into Kansas and Nebraska in order to tip the vote in their direction. Armed conflict ensued and persisted throughout Pierce’s presidency; “Bleeding Kansas” became a symbol of the intractability of the slavery issue and the absolute ineffectiveness of President Pierce.

There is much more. Read the rest here: