- Debate over slavery in the area of the Mexican Cession split politics along North-South lines.
The Popular Sovereignty Panacea:
- Polk decided to retire after one term (that chronic diarrhea's a killer)
- Democrats turned to pompous General Lewis Cass -> thought slavery should be decided by popular sovereignty, dissolve national issue into local issues, but could spread slavery (uh-oh)
Political Triumphs for General Taylor:
- Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor "Hero of Buena Vista" - Clay had too many enemies -> Taylor owned slaves but didn't take stand on slavery expansion issue
- Antislavery northerners made Free Soil Party: attracted Democrats, those mad at Polk, "immoral slavery" abolitionists, and northerners. They ran Van Buren.
- Taylor's wartime popularity won him the election 1848.
- Gold Rush -> huge impouring into Cali. Lawless men => crime - needed good state government.
- Cali drafted constitution 1849 that excluded slavery and applied it to Congress - Souther politicians arose in violent opposition.
Sectional Balance and the Underground Railroad:
- South doing well - cotton, Zach Taylor, majority in cabinet and Supreme Court
- 15 slave and 15 free states - Cali would destroy balance in the Senate
- Texas claimed part of New Mexico as their own and threatened to seize it.
- North wanted Washington DC to be free area - South upset.
- South also upset about Underground Railroad to Canada - Harriet Tubman - losing slaves.
- South wanted stricter fugitive slave law
Twilight of the Senatorial Giants:
- Congressional Convention 1850: Clay, Calhoun, Webster.
- Clay (backed by Stephen A. Douglas) thought N&S should compromise, and N should enact better fugitive slave law
- Calhoun wanted more safeguards for South - leave slavery alone, return runaway slaves (and elect 2 presidents, one for N and one for S). Then he died.
- Webster pushed Clay's idea - reasonable concessions to the South. Webster stood by Wilmot Proviso - and said slavery (cotton-growin') wasn't possible on Mexican territory anyhow. (7th of March Speech 1850).
- Webster regarded slavery as evil but disunion as worse.
Deadlock and Danger on Capitol Hill:
- Also at Congressional debate of 1850 - younger northern radicals - Seward - against concession, strong antislaveryite, Christian morals, NO compromise.
- Deadlock in Congress - Taylor was for "Higher Law" Seward - and bent on vetoing any compromise. Determined to hang and use force to stop Texan dissenters if they marched on Santa Fe.
Breaking the Congressional Logjam:
- 1850, Prez Taylor died! VP Millard Fillmore (complete invalid..in my opinion) took over - gladly signed compromise measures.
- Compromise of 1850: North gradually started to accept it, but South violently opposed (tried to start boycott movement, but there were enough Southern Untionists to stop it)
- Southward opp0sition - but 2nd Era of Good Feelings ensued - brief!
Balancing the Compromise Scales:
- Compromise benefitted N b/c Cali was admitted as free state and Senate tipped to the N. S needed more territory for another slave state.
- New Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 "Bloodhound Bill" - got opposition from N. Commisioner payed $5 to free a slave and $10 to not.
- MA refused to enforce slave law - much of N didn't enforce it.
- War could have broken out in 1850, but N was set on preserving Union.
Compromise of 1850:
For the North:
- Cali admitted as free state
- Abolition of slave trade in DC
- Disputed NM territory that TX wanted was given to NM
For the South:
- NM and Utah slavery choice based on popular sovereignty
- TX got $10 million as compensation
- Fugitive slave law
Defeat and Doom for the Whigs:
- 1852, Democrats chose Franklin Pierce for election. Proslavery, pro-Compromise of 1850.
- Whigs ran Winfield Scott.
- Whig pary split - N antislavery, S proslavery. AYY what will happen next?? FIND OUT IN CHAPTER 19....dun dun dun