History tells us that “Yes We Can” repeal health care

By Conservative Generation for Left Coast Rebel

The media, the pundits, and the left are out today, proclaiming that the passage of a highly unpopular bill in the dark of night yesterday has somehow permanently shifted the country to the left. Even many on the right are arguing that socialism will now be so embedded in the minds of the electorate, it will never be removed. To those of you despondent about the direction the country is headed, I have a history lesson that you must hear.

The year is 1854 and the issue dividing America was slavery. The abolition movement in America had been percolating since the country’s founding and pro-slavery politics had just proclaimed themselves the victors of the slavery battle with their legislative victory in the 1854 Nebraska-Kansas Act. With a single stroke of the presidential pen, Franklin Pierce had in effect declared slavery the law of the land. The bill opened up all US territories to accept backdoor slavery; the bill was to permanently weave slavery into the fabric of the electorate, never to be overturned.

Free-States and Slave-States had been in a legislative gridlock for years, long before the radical 1854 Nebraska-Kansas Act was passed. As the US moved into new territories, the delicate balance of Free versus Slave States was coming to a head. Unable to stem the growth of slavery in 1820 by making all new member states free of slavery, Free State politicians abandoned their principles of human rights to engage in a compromise with the Slave State representatives. That compromise split new territories equally into Free and Slave states, preserving slavery and a free versus slavery balance in congress. Thirty-four years later, a radical democrat controlled Washington, would stand all of this on its head.

Much like Barak Obama, Franklin Pierce was just a blank slate. Someone a divided Democratic Party could believe was on everyone’s side:

After thirty-four ballots, it became obvious that a new candidate was needed. Clearly, a political figure who was not so well-known was needed—a dark-horse, as James K. Polk had been in 1844. The nominee would have to be pleasant and accommodating to all the party's factions. Above all, his beliefs would have to run against the grain of his home region. A proslavery southerner or an anti-slavery northerner would never get two-thirds of the delegates to vote for him. A proslavery northerner, however, might appease both sides. Pierce's political machine in New Hampshire had sensed this, and had begun quietly working the convention floor, among southerners in particular. On the thirty-fifth ballot, Franklin Pierce's name was placed in nomination. Virginia gave him his first support, with all fifteen of its votes.

The fact that many of the delegates had never even heard of Pierce helped. Having few enemies, nor indeed any reputation, Pierce could be molded by his supporters into whatever the delegates were looking for in a candidate. Handsome, sociable, a fine speaker, a Mexican-American War veteran—above all a man not forceful enough to ruffle anyone's feathers—Franklin Pierce was the ideal candidate. Weary of fighting, the Democrats handed Pierce the nomination on the forty-eighth ballot.

Though Pierce was certainly more of a tyrant of consequence than the overt statist Obama is, the congressional motivation for the Nebraska-Kansas Act was the same as health care; power! As new territories were on the verge of statehood, democrats saw an opportunity to push Free States into backdoor slavery. Like the current health care debate, the nation feared a statist takeover of the country. It is interesting to note, like health care, the electorate saw no need for the change and rebuked the democrats attempt to extend slavery’s influence:

Northern Whigs and many Northern Democrats exploded in wrath at the repeal of the venerable Compromise of 1820. For them, the Missouri Compromise had virtually become a part of the Constitution. What possible reason could there be to repeal the compromise line—especially at a moment when there was no public agitation about slavery—except to allow Southerners to expand slavery into places where it had been prohibited? The aristrocratic slaveholders of the South were called the "Slave Power." Northern congressional leaders feared that the Slave Power had become aggressive, intending to gain more slave states, would overwhelm Congress with slave-state representatives and senators, destroy civil liberties, convert free states into slave states, enslave all workingmen regardless of color, and transform the United States from a republic into a slaveholding despotism.

The Nebraska-Kansas Act was passed by a narrow margin in the house; 113 to 100. However, the implications were clear and the country would never be the same again. It all started with a dramatic ousting of the day’s blue dog democrats, aka the northern democrats:

No congressional member had so badly miscalculated the consequences of his actions as had Douglas. He believed that, besides getting a transcontinental railroad terminating in Chicago, he had removed the slavery issue from national life. By putting discussion of slavery in the hands of settlers and taking it away from members of Congress, Douglas believed, as did many others, that the national agitation over slavery's expansion would cease. This prediction was proven miserably wrong. Many Northerners fiercely resisted any possibility of slavery's extension into the Louisiana Purchase area or in the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, and out of the ashes of the Whig Party soon rose the Republican Party. In the congressional elections of 1854, the Democratic Party suffered the greatest defeat in its history. At the beginning of Congress in December 1853, Northern Democrats had ninety-one members; after the elections of 1854, they had twenty-five. Only seven out of forty-four Northern Democrats who had voted for the Kansas Nebraska Act were reelected. It took the Northern Democrats twenty years to recover from this disaster.

You are all familiar with the outcome, Abraham Lincoln and the 16th Amendment. What I am skipping over is the violence that consumed the next ten years of American history in the wake of the statist attempt at the expansion of slavery. I am skipping over the violence of Bleeding Kansas and the civil war. I am skipping over the legislative and judicial battles such as Dred Scott. I am skipping over this, because I believe that our future is not yet certain to repeat the past. I certainly pray that it doesn’t. Instead, I am pointing out that the battles have not ended, they have just begun. So when you hear from the left or the right that the health care legislation will never be overturned, don’t listen. It isn’t true and it is not unprecedented. The country has a long history of freedom prevailing over tyranny and I believe that it is still true today.


On Franklin Pierce

On the Nebraska-Kansas Act


  1. And let's not forget Prohibition. The left's attempt to tell us all what we could and could not drink. They got that as far as a Constitutional amendment only to have it amended again to repeal the government intrusion.

  2. I like the comparison, it was not one I had thought of. I have personally been seeing more comparisons between this and all the other social legislation of the day - welfare, medicaid, medicare, social security, all which are plans that started temporarily that would be nearly impossible to get rid of today.

  3. Fantastic post and a great reminder to us all! Thank you for this.

  4. Excellent piece here! I love your fighting spirit, & you're so right. PLEASE keep up the good fight!


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