Thomas Hart Benton was a U.S. senator and congressman, born near Hillsboro, North Carolina. In 1801, Benton's family moved to Nashville, where he became a successful attorney and state senator. In 1820, Benton was elected one of Missouri's first two U.S. senators. Following the great depression of 1819, Benton sought to limit bank notes and bring more specie into circulation. In 1836, when John C. Calhoun demanded that Congress reject petitions for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, Benton denounced him. Benton also denounced the Wilmot Proviso, but he also refused to support the southern demand for territorial expansion. Though a slaveholder himself, Benton described the institution as an incurable evil. He hoped that it would ultimately disappear, praying that it would never be expanded. In 1848 Calhoun warned that Congress would insult the South by allowing Oregon to bar slavery. Benton replied that the issue was meaningless, because slavery would never spread so far north. In 1852 Benton was elected to the House of Representatives. When the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise in 1854, Benton angrily railed against it calling it a betrayal of the Union. In 1857, Benton answered the Dred Scott Decision with a 192-page Historical and Legal Examination of the Dred Scott Case, which glorified the Union, appealed for sectional peace, and denounced the decision as bad constitutional law. Benton died of cancer in 1858.