Background Tension grew over the prospect of California and New Mexico entering the Union as free states thus ending the balance between slave and free which southerners felt was essential for the protection of Slavery Matters came to a head during the election for a new speaker in the House of representatives. Over 3 weeks and 62 votes a new speaker still wasn’t elected and threat of disunion became stronger. “If, by your legislation you seek to drive us from California and New Mexico, then I am for disunion” Toombs
Several fist fights broke out in the House, Senator Davis challenged another to a duel and Senator Henry Foote (both from Mississippi) pulled a loaded revolver during a debate. In the back ground was a convention of all southern Representatives to be held in Nashville in June 1850
It was into this background that Henry Clay, the architect of 1820 Missouri Compromise stepped.. Although he was unable to get his compromise accepted on the 31 July 1850, the untimely death of President Taylor 9th July, enabled Stephen Douglas, (huge drinker and hard worker, dead by 48) with the helped by the pro compromise attitude of President Fillmore, to eventually get the Compromise passed in sections.
The ins and outs of the Compromise Henry Clay, U.S. senator from Kentucky, was determined to find a solution. In 1820 he had resolved a fiery debate over the spread of slavery with his Missouri Compromise. Now, thirty years later, the matter surfaced again within the walls of the Capitol. But this time the stakes were higher -- nothing less than keeping the Union together. Would he succeed this time? There were several points at issue: 1. The United States had recently acquired a vast territory -- the result of its war with Mexico. Should the territory allow slavery, or should it be declared free? Or maybe the inhabitants should be allowed to choose for themselves? .
2. California -- a territory that had grown tremendously with the gold rush of 1849, had recently petitioned Congress to enter the Union as a free state. Should this be allowed? Ever since the Missouri Compromise, the balance between slave states and free states had been maintained; any proposal that threatened this balance would almost certainly not win approval 3. There was a dispute over land: Texas claimed that its territory extended all the way to Santa Fe. 4. Finally, there was Washington, D.C. Not only did the nation's capital allow slavery, it was home to the largest slave market in North America.
Compromise details 1. Texas would relinquish the land in dispute but, in compensation, be given 10 million dollars -- money it would use to pay off its debt to Mexico. 2. The territories of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah would be organized without mention of slavery. (The decision would be made by the territories' inhabitants later, when they applied for statehood - Popular Sovereignty) 3. Washington, the slave trade would be abolished in the District of Columbia, although slavery would still be permitted.
4. California would be admitted as a free state. To pacify slave-state politicians, who would have objected to the imbalance created by adding another free state; 5. The Fugitive Slave Act was passed.
Fugitive Slave Law - background Even though the Northern states abolished slavery, they still could not avoid their Constitutional obligation to enforce the slave laws of the southern states. A fugitive slave carried with him the legal status of slavery, even into a territory which didn't have slavery. Now, many of the states didn't do much about this and that's why the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was enacted, which made the federal government responsible for tracking down and apprehending fugitive slaves in the North, and sending them back to the South. Many people who were not abolitionists felt they could not cooperate with the Fugitive Slave Law. It gave slavery a human face.
Fugitive Slave Act Of all the bills that made up the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was the most controversial. It required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive's right to a jury trial For slaves attempting to build lives in the North, the new law was disaster. Many left their homes and fled to Canada. During the next ten years, an estimated 20,000 blacks moved to the neighbouring country. For Harriet Jacobs, a fugitive living in New York, passage of the law was "the beginning of a reign of terror to the coloured population." Free blacks, too, were captured and sent to the South. With no legal right to plead their cases, they were completely defenceless.
Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act made abolitionists all the more resolved to put an end to slavery. The Underground Railroad became more active, reaching its peak between 1850 and 1860. The act also brought the subject of slavery before the nation. Many who had previously been ambivalent about slavery now took a definitive stance against the institution. The Compromise of 1850 accomplished what it set out to do -- it kept the nation united -- but the solution was only temporary. Over the following decade the country's citizens became further divided over the issue of slavery. The rift would continue to grow until the nation itself divided.
<ul><li>The Compromise, however, contained the seeds of future discord. </li></ul><ul><li>The precedent of popular sovereignty led to a demand for a similar provision for the Kansas Territory in 1854, causing bitterness and violence there -Bleeding Kansas. </li></ul><ul><li>The application of the new Fugitive Slave Act triggered such a strong reaction throughout the North that many moderate antislavery elements became determined opponents of any further extension of slavery into the territories. </li></ul><ul><li>While the Compromise of 1850 succeeded as a temporary expedient, it also proved the failure of compromise as a permanent political solution when vital sectional interests were at stake. </li></ul>
Many consider this a "final solution"—all except northern radicals; but it is not really a compromise in that both sides reject the other's conditions; everybody opposed part of it. At the second Nashville convention in November only half of the delegates turned up. It seemed fire eaters had been sidelined. However South Carolina was determined next time they would act alone. Free Soil/ Northern radicals were also unhappy. Salmon B. Chase “the question of slavery in the territories has been avoided. It has not been settled” temporary reconciliation occurs among estranged politicians, etc. But, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law strikes fear in the hearts of northern blacks and encourages more southerners to try to recover escaped slaves.
Abolitionists often interfere with the enforcement of the law, and such efforts exacerbate sectional feelings. The sight of blacks being carried off to slavery outrages many northerners, and southerners resent the northerners' refusal to obey the law. Some states pass personal liberty laws to protect free blacks, but the Fugitive Slave Law forces many northerners to experience the heartlessness of slavery. The states' rights shoe is now on the other foot. The South has to back the Compromise or face secession; they have no moral ground to stand on South divides into camps Radicals (secessionists) Ultra-Unionists; oppose secession under any circumstances. Conditional Unionists (moderates); many sought to retain Union.
Overview Many Northerners continued to help fugitives escape, and made the Underground Railroad more efficient and more daring than it had been before. Uncle Tom’s Cabin 1852. When President Abraham Lincoln met Mrs. Stowe, he is supposed to have said, "So you're the little lady who wrote the book that started this big war.” Kansas/Nebraska showed the weakness of the 1850 Compromise Formation of Republican Party Dred Scott highlighted divisions further 1850 Compromise prevented a split in the union but it was only a temporary measure, the issue of slavery and its expansion was not dealt with
McPherson “ The Compromise of 1850 undoubtedly averted a grave crisis. But hindsight makes it clear that it only postponed the trauma” “ It [the Compromise] lanced the boil of tension that had festered in Congress”