ollapse. For strategic reasons it changed its policy. But it went on steadily growing and gaining ground until it triumphed in 1861. Webster, not his foolish opponents, gauged its strength correctly in 1850.
The clew to what actually happened in 1850 lies in the course of such an ardent Southerner as, for example, Langdon Cheeves. Early in the year, he was a leading secessionist, but at the close of the year a leading anti-secessionist. His change of front, forced upon him by his own thinking about the situation was a bitter disappointment to himself. What animated him was a deep desire to take the whole South out of the Union. When, at the opening of the year, the North seemed unwilling to compromise, he, and many another, thought their time had come. At the first Nashville Convention he advised a general secession, assuming that Virginia, "our premier state," would lead the movement and when Virginia later in the year swung over from secession to anti-secession, Cheeves reluctantly changed his policy. Th
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