The Corner

Worst Since?

Lots of nominations, going all the way back to the Stamp Act. Smoot-Hawley got a lot of votes, as did the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which seems quite hyperbolic to me. But here’s an e-mail:

Kansas-Nebraska Act.

That too required enormous bribery on the part of the administration.

The Pierce administration used the threat of revoking federal printing contracts to get northern Democratic newspapers to support the measure; it provided federal jobs to allies of northern congressmen who agreed to support the bill.  It also promised federal jobs to northern congressmen who feared (correctly as it turned out) that they would lose their re-election bids if they supported the measure.

It sold the measure, the chief effect of which was to modify the Missouri Compromise of 1820, on the specious theory that the Missouri Compromise had already been repealed via the Compromise of 1850.

The end result: Republicans won the House in the elections of 1854-55, and Franklin Pierce was the first elected president who couldnt even get his own party to re nominate him.

The first time the Republican Party (in truth an alliance of Republicans, Whigs, and, ahem, Know Nothings) won control of the House of Representatives.

See Roy Franklin Nichols, The Disruption of the Democracy.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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