A month before this speech, the Democratic National Convention had convened in Charleston, South Carolina. When the delegates failed to adopt an explicitly pro-slavery platform, the Convention dissolved. Rival Southern and Northern Conventions reconvened in June 1860, each nominating their own presidential candidate: Stephen Douglas for the North and John Breckinridge for the South. With the Democratic vote thus divided, the Republican candidate was widely expected to win the 1860 election. Here Davis laments the Kansas-Nebraska solution, explaining how Douglas, once a Southern hero, had become a villain.

May 17, 1860

…It is this confusion of ideas, it is this confounding of terms, this changing of language, this applying of special meanings to words, out of which, I think, a large portion of the dispute arises. Read more