California and the Civil War By Jessica Jefferson History - 141
Slavery’s LimitsThe expansion of slavery was broughtto the forefront of peoples concernswith the acquisition of land in theAmerican Southwest. For supporters ofslavery, Wilmots Proviso which stated“neither slavery nor involuntaryservitude shall ever exist in any part ofsaid territory,” was taken as an insult.Since the climate of the new territorywas so arid, owning slaves there wasfoolish. Despite this Southernoffense, and the Proviso, Utah andMexico would soon legalize slavery.
The Influence of Gold In 1848 Gold was discovered in California, and by the next year tens of thousands had made the trip there in hopes of riches. The proposed state constitution that resulted once again brought the issue of slavery to the forefront, banning it entirely. Many slave owners disputed that salves were best exploited working in the mines, and that when compared to the white men, slaves were naturally better built to cope with the conditions.
Political BalanceWhether or not Californiawould allow slaves wascrucial to the balancebetween the North andSouth, each side wanting togain from imposing thereprinciples on the newterritory. A compromiseabolished slaves in Californiaand the District ofColombia, and allowed it inUtah and New Mexicowithout restiction.
FilibustersCalifornia despite this compromise came to be led by many once Southerners, who voted proslavery, and supported theConfederacy during the Civil War. Still some felt a new slave statewas needed to offset California, and began crusades in efforts to acquire such a state. Attempts were made from California to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Mexico, but none were successful.