EZ fer war, I call it murder,-- There you hev it plain an' flat; I don't want to go no furder Than my Testyment fer that.... They may talk o' Freedom's airy Tell they'er pupple in the face,-- It's a grand gret cemetary Fer the barthrights of our race; They jest want this Californy So's to lug new slave-states in To abuse ye, an' scorn ye, An' to plunder ye like sin.
by: James Russell Lowell (1819-1891
reprinted from The Early Poems Including the Biglow Papers
James Russell Lowell. New York: A.L. Burt, 1900
Gold discovered on this site in CA in January 1848
Sites of goldfields in Northern California
Gold miners came from around the world to get rich...
By 1850, California was encouraged to apply for
statehood to help bring about law and order
Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, of the “Old Guard” introduced his last great compromise
for his nation
as FREE state
DC allows slaves BUT slave trade is banned
TX loses land, but gets debts paid
...the Southerners got their long wished-for law...
a STRICTfederal FUGITIVE SLAVE Law
All Northerners were requiredby law to help return runaway slaves and cooperate with slave catchers
South Carolina Senator,
John C. Calhoun,
also of the “Old Guard”, strongly opposed California’s admittance and compromise.
He threatened secession.
His last great speech is read by a fellow Southerner.
He died soon after saying,
“The South! The South! What will become of her!
Eloquent “Old Guard”
New Englander, Daniel Webster, promoted the Compromise of 1850 with his last great speech. He was for
Compromise and against legislating over slavery (believing that slavery was unsuited for the West).
“Let us not be pygmies in a case that calls for men.”
This Seventh of March speechturned many Northerners
(like bankers and businessmen) toward compromise,
abolitionists and Free-Soilers attacked him as a traitor.
Ardent Quaker abolitionist poet,
John Greenleaf Whittier
wrote about Webster,
“So fallen! So lost! The light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
One of the “Young Guard”,
NY Senator William Seward was the eloquent speaker for
He was against concession,
believing Free California
should be admitted
into the Union
without “gifts” to the South.
In his argument Seward said, “Christian legislators must obey God’s moral law”…and exclude slavery in obedience to an even“higher law” than the Constitution”.
“Higher Law” Seward influenced President Taylor who also
just wanted CA to become a state
without any other agreement
Young Illinois Senator, Stephen A. Douglas,
takes Henry Clay’s compromise and splits it up into 7 separate laws.
In this manner, it is passed through Congress and becomes federal law.
President Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War , opposed fellow Southerners; He simply wanted California to enter the Union.
Dying in office before the compromise passed actually helped because his successor, Millard Fillmore, helped promote compromise
Northerners were furious that slavery had invaded their free states. Many refused to obey. The Underground Railroad became a popular way to protest this law.
Runaway slave, Harriet Tubman became the best known conductor on the Underground RR
Most fugitives followed the North Star to freedom...
...but there were many routes to freedom...
Indiana’s famous Underground Railroad family: Levi and Kati Coffin
Over 2,000 slaves found their way to freedom after being sheltered in Coffin’s home: “Grand Central Station”