# 5: Right to Instruct [Viles]


Viles, Jonas. Sections and Sectionalism in a Border State. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Jun., 1934), pp. 3-22.

“At any rate the election returns throw disappointingly little light on sectionalism in Missouri. In the initial struggle in 1849 and 1850 Benton held the majority of his own party but was beaten for reelection by a coalition of Whigs and extreme anti- Benton Democrats. In the state Democratic convention of 1852 Benton had a nominal but uncertain majority; his opponents offered to let him name the state ticket if he personally would withdraw from the fight. He refused; his opponents made terms with Sterling Price, a Benton man, and nominated him for governor. From the time Benton repudiated the deal and attacked Price, he was denounced as putting his personal ambitions above party loyalty. His strength steadily declined, but his opponents featured repudiation of party discipline and of the right of instruction, more than treason to southern interests” (16, italics mine).

“The startling feature of the plan was the rather open consideration of the possibility of supporting the Republican party if it nominated Bates on such a plat- form. The plan broke down in March, 1860 when Bates, to keep in the running for the Republican nomination, was forced to take an unequivocal position on the slavery issue, but there seems good reason to believe that up to that time Rollins was pledged to vote the Republican ticket, if the candidate and plat- form were acceptable. Meanwhile the Democrats were facing the breakup of the national party. At the state convention early in April the old anti-Benton group of leaders secured the nominations and even an anti-Douglas state platform, but attempts to give similar instructions to the delegates to Charleston caused such an up- roar that it was abandoned” (19, italics mine).


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