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University of Washington Undergraduate Journals
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Washington
Undergraduate
Law Review
 

Spring 2007-
Present



Directory of Current Undergraduate Journals in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences with content accessible online. Featured in intersections Online








Clio's
Purple and Gold:
Journal of
Undergraduate
Studies in History
 

2011


Directory of Current Undergraduate Journals in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences with content accessible online. Featured in intersections Online









Jackson School
Journal


Spring 2010 -
Present



Directory of Current Undergraduate Journals in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences with content accessible online. Featured in intersections Online








The Orator

2007-Present


Directory of Current Undergraduate Journals in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences with content accessible online. Featured in intersections Online








 


           

"If Men Should Fight"

Dueling as Sectional Politics, 1850-1856


By Annie Powers
University of California, Berkeley


I focus upon three duels arising out of debates in Congress shortly before the Civil War, and consider the perceptions of the political conflicts in both Northern and Southern newspaper accounts. The first, between Northern Congressman William Bissell and Southern Senator Jefferson Davis, emerged as a result of debate over the Compromise of 1850 but was ultimately resolved by President Zachary Taylor. In the wake of the conflict, newspapers North and South condemned dueling in general terms and applauded the reconciliation of the parties as a symbolic settlement of sectional differences. In the second conflict, an argument in Congress between Cutting and Breckenridge over the Kansas-Nebraska bill nearly led to a duel. In response, the Northern and Southern press criticized dueling as an institution, just as they had done after the altercation between Bissell and Davis. Unlike its 1850 predecessor, however, the Cutting-Breckenridge conflict was represented in the Northern press as a symptom of sectional discord. Southern newspapers noted and reinforced this interpretation, commenting most heavily on the duel by censuring Northern coverage because it focused too heavily on the sectional implications of the affair. Finally, the third confrontation occurred after Massachusetts Congressman Anson Burlingame condemned South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks for his violent caning of Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate. The conflict between the two symbolized the escalating tension between North and South. And both the Northern and Southern press assessed the duel as fundamentally sectional in character. By this time, Southern papers had dropped their criticisms of affairs of honor, while Northern newspapers split some still staunchly opposed to dueling, and others beginning to perceive it as a legitimate way of combating Southern aggression. Southerners, in turn, saw the duel as revealing the hostility of the North toward Southern society. Between 1850 and 1856, Congressional duels became sectionalized in both form and popular perception, as exhibited prominently in the Davis-Bissell, Cutting- Breckenridge, and Brooks-Burlingame conflicts.   [Article]