Between 1856 and 1860, America would see a breakdown in many of its political processes that had developed over the last eight decades. The GREAT COMPROMISERS of the early 19th century — Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John Calhoun — were gone, and their leadership in avoiding disunion were gone as well. Forces on the extremes were becoming more and more powerful, reducing the influence of moderates and crippling the spirit of reconciliation. Front and center was the issue of slavery. Could the country be saved, or was it on an irrevocable path toward disunion?