1852! Slavery had been a big issue for decades and wasn’t getting resolved. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published that year. It became an best-seller to an unprecedented degree and inflamed popular feeling against slavery. The Democratic-Republican Party was so divided over the slavery issue that they couldn’t agree on a candidate, so they nominated an inoffensive nebbish for President. He defeated the Whig candidate. After the election the Whig party evaporated. In those days a party was not at all a democracy. It was owned by a few, and others could join or leave. People volunteered for campaigns because if the party won they would be appointed to government jobs. The ordinary members got fed up with the party leadership’s failure to deal with the slavery issue. The Whigs all quit. Many also quit the Democratic-Republicans. The secretive Native American Party arose, their platform being putting a stop to immigration and hostility towards Catholics. It was fueled by fear and loathing of the massive influx of Irish refugees from the potato famine and German refugees from their failed liberal revolution. There also came to be the brand new Republican Party, formed as a single issue party that opposed slavery. Many sitting Congressmen and Senators changed their allegiance to the Native American and Republican parties. Things continued to grow worse. In Kansas Territory there were two competing Governors and governments. The anti-slavery government was centered in the town of Lawrence. The sheriff tried to interfere so the townspeople shot him then drove him out of town. Sheriff Jones collected a posse of 800 Southerners and got permission from a grand jury to wreck the town's anti-slavery presses and destroy the Free State Hotel, which was declared a fortification. They succeeded, then for good measure burned down the anti-slavery Governor’s home. The next day in Washington, DC, a Southern Carolina Democratic Senator entered the Senate cloakroom and there beat up a Massachusetts Republican Senator with a walking cane, causing head wounds. Abundant blood spattered the room and soaked clothing. Those who overheard this violence -- it must have been a terrible sound -- and rushed to the rescue were stymied by a South Carolina Congressman who stood in the cloak room doorway and held them off with a pistol. Senator Sumner suffered brain damage and a long convalescence. In the 1956 election the three parties divided the legislature and the first gay Democratic president was elected. Things kept getting worse. John Brown decided to export violence from Kansas to his native state of Virginia. Fueled by abolitionist money he trained and heavily armed a force that included both his sons and some former slaves. Harriet Tubman was invited to the coming raid, but fell ill and couldn't go. The band invaded the estate of Colonel Washington, a descendant of President George Washington, and took him hostage. The men stopped a train to spread news of rebellion, then seized an arms depot that contained one hundred thousand muskets, rifles, and ammunition. The slave rebellion did not arise. John Brown suffered a saber wound to the head, was captured, tried, and hanged for treason against the State of Virginia. Henry David Thoreau wrote in favor of the Brown rebellion, I think that for once the Sharp's rifles and the revolvers were employed in a righteous cause. Henry David Thoreau's taking of the side of deadly violence was a very bad sign. The Native American Party held anti-Catholic riots which so appalled the nation that the party disintegrated. The Democratic Party split into two parts over slavery, each which lay claim to the title of Democratic Party. A compromise Constitutional Union Party sprang up in the wilds of Tennessee and Kentucky, so there was a total of four parties. The South swore they would secede if the Republicans won the 1860 election. Win they did. · Republicans 40% · Democratic (southern) 30% · Constitutional Union Party 20% · Democratic (northern) 10% President Buchanan allowed rebels to seize Federal armories which contained guns, cannon, and ammunition. He believed that white Southerners would need the weapons to protect themselves from rebel slaves. Historians usually award this the booby prize for the single presidential decision most harmful to the nation. Everything went to hell. After the war only the Democratic and Republican parties remained, and so they do to this day. The newer of the two parties sometimes refers to itself as the Grand Old Party.