The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Fugitive Slave Act again
The QED (August 9) is to find a QED: a sensible question that can be answered by the fast-breeding spreadsheets that any RCV analysis (even the least competent!) inevitably generates.
I considered one or two possibilities:
Were free-state senators who voted for the FSA (or failed to vote against it) punished electorally for their votes?
The noise problem is terrible! The numbers are small; the extinction of the Whigs was imminent; senators in that era just didn't rack up Thurmond-like Senate careers .
Of 29 free-state senators at the time of the vote for the bill on passage , four voted for the bill, 11 voted against and 14 did not vote.
Of the four, so far as I can see , two (Davis (W-MA) and Sturgeon (D-PA)) did not seek re-election, one (Dodge (D-IA)) resigned to take up a government post, and the other (Jones D-IA) was re-elected.
Of the 11, none of the seven Whigs were re-elected; two seem to have run for re-election and been defeated, the rest to have chosen not to seek re-election. One of the three Dems (Dodge (WI)) was re-elected. The Free Soil Salmon Chase (OH) resigned to run as governor.
Of the 14, one Whig (of five), Seward (NY), was re-elected, as was Bright (IN) and Douglas (IL) of the eight Dems. The rest resigned or did not seek re-election, as did Free Soiler Hale (NH).
If fear that, however much logit and probit one applied, little value is to be had from such stats.
Second, I looked at the cases where, in the votes where a sectional line could be discerned , senators voted against their section.
The largest number of such votes (42 from the 10 RCVs) came from Northern Democrats. Of these, 17 were given by the Iowa delegation, 7 by Sturgeon and 5 by Cass (MI).
Why Iowa? This piece fills in some background, blaming the fact that Iowa had a significant proportion of Southerners in its population.
I suspect that this is an artefact: Illinois had its Southern element, for instance, but Douglas, though responsible for bringing the Compromise safely to harbour after Clay had failed, contrive to register in none of the ten FSA RCVs. The other senator, Shields, voted proslavery five times, but not on passage .
In sum, my QED is that I don't think there is one: not to be gained from the numbers alone, at least . Genuine historical research would be needed to divine the reasons for the Iowa senators' votes. Delving into newspapers, and personal papers and all that pre-online jazz.
(Channelling Giles, it seems.)
free website counter