Lead: With seven states having already bolted from the Union, Congress in the winter of 1861 was desperate to save what was left.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The repudiated James Buchanan was in the White House. Two blocks away in the Willard Hotel a minority President-elect, Abraham Lincoln was reluctant to do much of anything until his inauguration. In the resulting power vacuum, the moderate leaders of Congress were trying to figure out a way to soothe the fears of the slave-holding South and prevent additional states from pulling out. In the Senate the search for compromise was led by John J. Crittenden of Kentucky. His solution protected the property rights of slaveholders throughout the nation and placed into the Constitution the notion of popular sovereignty or squatter whereby states would be admitted without condition, leaving each to decide about slavery on their own. When this seemed to go nowhere he suggested the revival of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which permitted slavery only in new states south of Missouri's southern border. His proposals failed.

 

Listen to Segment