President Franklin Pierce took steps to build new commercial relationships abroad, revamp the military, and restructure the federal courts. After an unprecedented landslide in the 1852 presidential election gave him supermajorities in the House and Senate, Pierce seemed poised for a productive presidency. Yet, as a Northerner with Southern sympathies, he was wedded to the notion that citizens of the new territories should be able to determine the issue of slavery for themselves—what was then known as popular sovereignty. Pierce ended up supporting the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which destroyed the thirty-four-year-old compromise on slavery in the federal territories and led to Bleeding Kansas, a series of bloody confrontations and a small civil war between pro- and antislavery settlers in Kansas Territory. With this violence forever stamped on his presidency, Pierce was ushered out of office.
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