There was a rivalry between the parties, of course, but in Potter's account, it was more like the rivalry between Cal and Stanford than that between today's Republicans and Democrats. The parties had somewhat different constituencies and pledged fealty to a different set of men, but each attempted to encompass as much of the political spectrum as possible rather than merely half of it. The story of the 1850s, by these lights, is about how this changed.With reference to David M. Potter's The Impending Crisis, Adam Cadre surveys the four antebellum presidents.
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