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Renewing the Sectional Struggle. 1848 – 1854 “The South! The South! God knows what will become of her!” --John C. Calhoun. Impact of the Mexican Cession. Why are politicians avoiding the question of slavery? The Wilmot Proviso Supported in the North Opposed in the South

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Renewing the sectional struggle

Renewing the Sectional Struggle

1848 – 1854

“The South! The South! God knows what will become of her!”

--John C. Calhoun

Impact of the mexican cession
Impact of the Mexican Cession

  • Why are politicians avoiding the question of slavery?

  • The Wilmot Proviso

    • Supported in the North

    • Opposed in the South

  • Southern senators blocked the proviso

  • Threatened to:

    • disrupt the Whigs & the Democrats

    • split national politics along North & South sectional lines

  • Political parties represented national unity

    • Each enjoyed support in both the North & the South

The democratic party
The Democratic Party

  • Polk doesn’t seek reelection in 1848

  • What was his reasons?

  • Select General Lewis Cass

    • Senator & diplomat

    • Party was silent on the issue of slavery

    • Cass favored popular sovereignty – what is PS?

  • Popular sovereignty

    • Favored by politicians & public. Why?

    • However, could cause spread of slavery. How?

The whig party
The Whig Party

  • Selected Zachary Taylor

    • “Hero of Buena Vista”

    • Never held a political office nor voted

    • Owned slaves

  • Dodged all troublesome political issues – does this help or hurt him?

    • Emphasized virtues of candidate

Free soil party
Free Soil Party

  • Candidate – Martin Van Buren

  • Started by antislavery men in the North

  • Platform – Supported:

    • Wilmot Proviso

    • Internal improvements

    • Free gov’t homesteads for settlers

  • Makeup

    • Industrialists unhappy with Polk’s tariff reduction

    • Democrats who resented Polk’s decision to settle for Oregon while insisting on all of Texas

    • Those who favored keeping blacks out of the territories

  • Why does the majority of the FSP oppose slavery in the new Western territories?

Election of 1848
Election of 1848

  • Attacked personalities of candidates

  • Free Soil Party caused a split in the vote

  • Taylor (W) wins

Gold in california
Gold in California

  • 1848 – gold was found // few got rich

  • “Gold fever” - many moved to CA (49ers)

    • Who made the most profits?

  • CA gov’t was not prepared for the number of people

    • Many newcomers were lawless men & virtueless women

    • Crime was a problem

  • Pres. Taylor secretly helped CA draft a constitution in 1849

    • Excluded slavery

    • CA bypassed the territorial stage

    • CALIFORNY SONG! 392

Sectional balance
Sectional Balance

  • Balance in Congress

    • 15 free states & 15 slave states

    • CA would upset this balance. Why is this a problem?

  • CA would set a precedent for the other states out of the Mexican Cession

  • Texas – claimed territory east of Rio Grande and up to the 42° parallel (map page 405)

    • Threatened to fight if territory removed to make New Mexico

    • Could this have started the Civil War 10 years earlier?

  • DC – Southerners did not like the idea of banning slavery in the nation’s capitol


  • Fugitive Slave Act 1793

    • North was to return runaway slaves

    • What was wrong with this Act?

  • Underground Railroad

    • Informal chain of “stations” through which “passengers” were led by “conductors” into Canada

    • Harriet Tubman – most famous conductor / ex-slave

  • By 1850, push for a new fugitive slave law

    • 1850 – about 1000 runaway slaves out of 4 million

    • How do most slaves become free?

Immortal trio of the south
“Immortal Trio” of the South

  • Problems arise when CA applies for statehood

  • Henry Clay – “Great Pacificator”

    • North & South should compromise

    • More feasible fugitive-slave act

  • John C. Calhoun – “Great Nullifier”

    • Leave slavery alone

    • Return runaway slaves

    • Give South minority rights

    • Restore political balance

      • Elect 2 presidents- one from the North & one from the South; both with veto power

      • Could this work?

  • Daniel Webster

    • Urged all reasonable concessions to the South

    • Fugitive-slave law

    • Seventh of March speech (1850) – helped turn the tide of the North toward compromise

Deadlock on capitol hill
Deadlock on Capitol Hill

  • Northerners in Congress

    • More interested in purging & purifying the Union than patching & preserving it

  • William H. Seward

    • Strong antislaveryite

    • Against any concessions by the North

    • Believed that slavery was morally wrong- “higher law” than the Constitution

  • Pres. Taylor

    • Bent on vetoing any compromise by congress

    • Aroused by the threats of Texas to seize Santa Fe

Compromise in the air
Compromise in the Air

  • 1850 – Pres. Taylor dies in office – bad cherries

  • Vice Pres. Millard Fillmore takes office

    • Gladly signed compromises proposed by Congress

  • “Fire-eaters” of the South wanted no compromise

  • the term Fire-Eaters refers to a group of extremist pro-slavery politicians from the South who urged the separation of southern states into a new nation, which became known as the Confederate States of America.

    • Southern extremists met & took strong positions on slavery & opposed compromise

      • Proved to be a dud

  • South does compromise with the North

  • Second Era of Good Feelings

    • Short lived

Compromise of 1850

Concessions to North

CA admitted as a free state

Territory disputed by Texas & New Mexico to be given to New Mexico

Abolition of slave trade in DC- NOT SLAVERY

Concessions to South

Remainder of Mexican cession formed into the territories of New Mexico & Utah; slavery decided by popular sovereignty

Texas - $10 million from gov’t as compensation

More stringent Fugitive Slave Law

Which side gets the best deal? Make an argument!

Compromise of 1850

Fugitive slave law 1850
Fugitive Slave Law 1850

  • “The Bloodhound Bill”

    • Strong opposition in the North

  • Fleeing slaves could not testify in their own behalf & were denied a jury trial

  • Commissioners who handled cases were paid double if slave was returned

  • Several states passed “personal liberty laws” that hampered enforcement

  • Angered the South that the North would not enforce the law

  • Will this new law make Northerners more or less appreciative of the South and slavery altogether? Why?

Election of 1852
Election of 1852

  • Democrat – Franklin Pierce (dark-horse candidate)

    • Prosouthern northerner – accepted by the slave wing

    • Platform – finality of the Compromise of 1850 including Fugitive Slave Act

  • Whigs – Winfield Scott (war hero)

    • Endorsed the Fugitive Slave Act

    • Whigs were split

      • Antislavery Whigs of the North – liked Scott but deplored his platform

      • Southern Whigs – liked the platform but not the candidate

      • Georgia Whigs – voted in vain for Webster who died 2 weeks earlier

  • Pierce won the election in a landslide

Defeat doom for the whigs
Defeat & Doom for the Whigs

  • Scott was stabbed in the back by this party

    • particularly the South

  • Election of 1852

    • Marked the end of the Whig Party within a few years

    • Won only 2 presidential elections (1840 & 1848)

    • End of national parties

    • Marked the rise of purely sectional political alignments

    • Choked to death trying to swallow the distasteful Fugitive Slave Law

    • Clay & Webster both died during election

President pierce
President Pierce

  • Cabinet contained aggressive Southerners

    • Jefferson Davis – Sec of War

    • Why is he known as the “fainting general”?

  • Ready to acquire more slave territory

    • Manifest Destiny - stimulated by Mexican War

    • Interest in Central America

      • Especially Panama & Nicaragua

      • Possible canal route

    • Compromise of 1850 seemed to have closed off the Mexican Cession to slavery

      • Forced to look for slave land elsewhere


  • William Walker – “gray-eyed man of destiny”

    • Supported by the South

    • Took control of Nicaragua with his buddies & installed himself as president in 1856

    • Promptly legalized slavery

  • Overthrown by a coalition of Central American countries

    • Pres. Pierce withdrew diplomatic recognition

    • Walker was killed in by a Honduran firing squad1860

Clayton bulwer treaty
Clayton – Bulwer Treaty

  • British were also interested in Nicaragua

    • Possible canal

    • Challenge to the Monroe Doctrine

      • Raised the possibility of armed conflict

  • Clayton – Bulwer Treaty – 1850

    • Neither American nor Britain would fortify or secure exclusive control over any future isthmian waterway

    • Necessary to halt the British – will hinder the US in the future

Asian trade
Asian Trade

  • America had become a Pacific Power

  • Wanted trade with Far East

    • Already had contacts with China

  • Japan

    • Had been isolated for over 200 years

    • 1853 - ready to open -mainly because of the Russian menace

  • Commander Matthew C. Perry

    • Persuaded the Japanese to sign treaty in 1854

    • Commercial foot in the door

Cuba the pearl of the antilles
Cuba: The Pearl of the Antilles

  • Sugar-rich island

    • prime objective of Manifest Destiny

    • 1850s – coveted by the South - most desirable slave territory available

    • Would restore political balance

  • Polk had offered $100 million

    • Offer refused by Spain

  • 1850 –1851- Two filibustering expeditions

    • Both efforts were repelled

Problems with cuba
Problems with Cuba

  • 1854 – Spanish seized American streamer Black Warrior

  • European powers were entering the Crimean War

  • US plots to take Cuba

    • American ministers from Spain, England, & France met in Ostend, Belgium to make secret plans

    • Ostend Manifesto - 1854

      • Offer $120 million

      • If refused, US would be justified in taking the island

    • Word got out – Pres Pierce was forced to drop plans

  • North wanted Canada/ South wanted Cuba

    • Neither was accomplished

Pacific railroad promoters
Pacific Railroad Promoters

  • Transportation problems

    • Oregon & CA were separated from the remainder of the states

  • Solution: transcontinental railroad

  • North & South wanted railroad for economic reasons

Gadsden purchase map p 415
Gadsden Purchase map p. 415

  • 1853 – Sec of War – J. Davis had James Gadsden (SC) appointed minister to Mexico

    • Gadsden offered Mexico $10 million for land

      • Size of SC

  • Purchase allowed South the claim the railroad

    • Smaller mountains & track completely through organized territory

  • North – Nebraska should be organized

Kansas nebraska act
Kansas-Nebraska Act

  • 1854 – Stephen A. Douglas

    • Supportive of the West

    • Proposed the K-N Act

  • Nebraska Territory would be split

    • Nebraska territory & Kansas territory

    • Slavery decided based on popular sovereignty

      • Kansas – probably slave/ Nebraska – probably free

  • Violation of the Compromise of 1820

    • No slavery above 36°30’ line excluding Missouri

Results of the kansas nebraska act
Results of the Kansas-Nebraska Act

  • One of the most momentous measures ever passed by Congress

  • Repeal of the compromises of 1820 & 1850

    • Made future compromises impossible

    • North refused to enforce Fugitive Slave Act

  • Shattered the Democratic Party

  • Birth of the Republican Party as a purely sectional party

    • Middle West/ antislavery

    • Disgruntled Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, Know-Nothings, & other foes of the Kansas-Nebraska Act