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S. territories, they opposed the admission of new slave states and the annexation of Texas, and they also protested against the congressional gag rule. The gag rule was a response to these petitions, which were traditionally read on the floor of Congress. Southerners found this practice offensive, and they were sure that the simultaneous pamphlet campaign would incite slaves to violence and insurrection-after all, even if the slaves were not supposed to be literate, they could certainly understand the inflammatory illustrations depicted on the pamphlet covers.

Politicians sought to resolve the sectional crisis over the future of the west through a series of tenuous national compromises that tended to inflame both sides, only heightening the stakes for all involved. The resulting political disarray led to the rise of the new Republican Party, which by the late 1850s became the north's dominant party behind its antislavery platform. The slavery issue led to outright violence between northerners and southerners in places like "Bleeding Kansas," Harper's Ferry, and even the floor of the Senate.

The Quakers maintained unity against slavery only because the vast majority of their members were non-slaveholders in the North who could effectively exile the few slaveholders from the sect. In 1837, the Presbyterians divided into Old and New "Schools" over the issue. Adherents of the New School were much more involved with the recent revivalism of the Second Great Awakening and the evangelical spirit of extending salvation to all men. The Baptists tried to avoid discussion of the controversial topic but could not after the Baptist Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840.

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