University of North Carolina Press
In her first book, Alice Elizabeth Malavasic argues that four southern senators who made up the F Street mess from 1853 to 1856 constituted the “most powerful bloc in the U.S. Senate.” (p. 8) During the 1850s, as self-proclaimed heirs of John C. Calhoun’s constitutional ideas and proslavery strategy, these senators used their positions as chairmen of critical senatorial committees to push slavery’s interests vigorously. In Malavasic’s accounting, the friendship and group dynamic of the four Democratic messmates – David Rice Atchison of Missouri, Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina, Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia, and James M. Mason of Virginia – reinforced their institutional power to give them almost dictatorial control over key legislation. In the most significant demonstration of such power, Malavasic concludes, the junta of four messmates conspired to force an explicit repeal of the Missouri Compromise in drafting the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 as a condition of supporting the bill and persuaded a reluctant President Franklin Pierce to endorse the bill.
Miller, Randall M.
"The F Street Mess: How Southern Senators Rewrote the Kansas-Nebraska Act,"
Civil War Book Review: Vol. 21
Available at: https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cwbr/vol21/iss2/9