At the close of 1860, James Buchanan asked in his State of the Union address, “Why is it, then, that discontent now so extensively prevails, and the Union of the States, which is the source of all these blessings, is threatened with destruction? “ By this time the Missouri Compromise had been put into place, prohibiting slavery in the western territories even if they were to become states later on. Buchanan saw the Southern states’ intolerance with the North’s interference in slavery as a direct infringement of their state’s rights to make decisions. Because slavery was an integral part of Southern agriculture by 1860, the prohibition of the practice was an immediate threat to both economy and culture there. Buchanan agreed with the South and forewarned that trouble would ensue. “. .the people of the North are not more responsible and have no more fight than with similar institutions in Russia or Brazil”. He continued at length, though, to dissuade secession, both by individual Southern states and by the allowance of Congress. Enter Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln promised not to extend slavery, in accordance with the Missouri Compromise. Because the U.S. had added large amounts of territory as a result of the Mexican War and the Oregon territory up to the 49th parallel after signing a treaty with Great Britain, only the existing Southern states were allowed to maintain the practice. The Republican Party’s position on slavery led to its 1860 victory – most party members were not for abolishing slavery nationwide.