Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis

My first book, Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis (Cornell, 2014), provides a comprehensive history of the Northern wing of the Democratic Party in the decade before disunion, and sheds light on the role of Northern pro-slavery partisanship in the coming of the Civil War.  By focusing on a variety of key Democratic politicos, I unravel the puzzle of Northern Democratic political allegiance to the South.  As Congressmen, state party bosses, convention wire-pullers, cabinet officials, and presidents, these men produced the legislation and policies that led to the fragmentation of the party and catastrophic disunion.   Northern Democratic votes made possible the notorious Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, the infamous Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, “Bleeding Kansas,” and the colossally controversial Lecompton Constitution.  This book aims to change not only how we understand antebellum politics and the early Democratic Party, but the overall causes of the Civil War.

“In this crisply argued book, Michael Todd Landis provides an exposé of the inner machinations of the Slave Power conspiracy: how proslavery Northern Democrats, in deference to the party’s Southern grandees, used machine politics, bribery, patronage, fear-mongering and intimidation to try to purge the party of antislavery voices. Landis’s argument that doughface politicians willfully defied the wishes of their constituents is provocative and insightful.”- Elizabeth R. Varon, University of Virginia, author of Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789–1859

Northern Men with Southern Loyalties is an archival tour de force informed by original and insightful research. Michael Todd Landis writes well and makes dizzyingly complex political struggles clear and straightforward. His accounts of the Buchanan administration’s dealings with the Dred Scott decision and the Lecompton controversy are among the best I have read.”- Jonathan Earle, Roger Hadfield Ogden Dean, LSU Honors College, author of Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824–1854

“In this deeply researched, well-written book, Michael Todd Landis offers a scathing indictment of the northern Democratic Party in the decade before the Civil War…. Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis should be seen as an important contribution to the vast but evolving literature on antebellum politics and the coming of the Civil War.”- Paul E. Teed, The Journal of Southern History

“Michael Todd Landis thoroughly proves with primary sources that northern Democrats truly did sell their political souls to southerners. Amazingly to me, Landis includes the voices of politicians’ constituents on these matters. From both the North and the South, these voices reinforce his arguments, his keen analysis, and his observations. Northern Men with Southern Loyalties covers an important topic, and the author’s mining of archival sources is truly remarkable.”- Eric H. Walther, University of Houston, author of William Lowndes Yancey and the Coming of the Civil War

“This is a very solidly researched, well written, and interesting account of the proslavery northern Democrats…. Landis provides our first comprehensive account of the doughfaces.”- Nicole Etcheson, American Historical Review

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