Compromise of 1850Kansas-Nebraska ActGetting Closer to Civil War USVA History Unit 6 1850-1877
State of the Union • The United States just defeated Mexico • With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo the United States has attained the coveted California territory, the territories west of Texas and north to the Oregon territory. • Would slavery extend to the newly acquired lands?
Popular Sovereignty • The concept that the people of a territory would vote to decide whether to allow slavery or to extend freedom to Africans. • General Lewis Cass: “Father of Popular Sovereignty” • This puts the slavery debate out of the hands of the politicians and into the laps of the people.
Election of 1848 • James K. Polk does not want another run at the Presidency. • Democrats: Lewis Cass • Whigs: Zachary Taylor “Hero of Buena Vista” • Owned slaves on sugar plantation in New Orleans • Free Soil Party: Martin Van Buren • Against extension of slavery not on moral grounds but it eliminated the chances of white males establishing commerce in the western territories due to competition with slave labor. • Free Soil Party eventually becomes the Republican Party
1848 Results • Zachary Taylor’s heroics in the Mexican War won him many votes as he won the Presidential election of 1848 for the Whigs.
California Gold Rush: 1849 (49ers) • Thousands rushed to California for the prospect of striking it rich with the discovery of gold in the region. • Most of these were lawless men, virtue-less women. • Crime, violence, disorganization, vigilante justice abounded in the area. • In an effort to bring law and order to the area the people drafted a state constitution and applied for statehood in 1849. (It contained no provision for extending slavery).
1850 • In 1850, prior to California, there were 15 slave states and 15 free states. • The South had the upper hand though with their President in the executive, and a majority in the House of Representatives and in the judiciary. • The South was still concerned that a free California would set a precedent for all future additions to the United States.
Underground Railroad • The South was also very angry over the number of slaves escaping to the North and the rising abolitionist movement in the North aiding them on their way to Canada. • The Underground RR was an informal chain of anti-slavery homes heading north on the way to Canada. • Harriet Tubman was a runaway slave from Md. Who rescued more than 300 slaves along the RR. • To deal with this growing problem the South wanted a more strict fugitive slave law.
Henry Clay’s Last Compromise • President Taylor dies and vice-president Millard Fillmore takes over the Presidency. • He supported concessions between the North and the South with the addition of California. • Compromise of 1850 • California enters as a free state • Territory dispute b/w Texas and NM territory goes to NM, Texas gets 10 million $ • Slave trade outlawed in the District of Columbia • Mexican cession to be organized into NM and Utah territories. Slavery issue decided by Popular Sovereignty. • New fugitive slave law
The New Fugitive Slave Law • Africans accused of being run-away slaves could not testify on their own behalf • They were denied a trial by jury • Federal Commissioners were paid $5 to release them, $10 to put them “back” into slavery. • Those abolitionists aiding the escaped slaves were heavily fined, jailed. • In response, the North took on an antagonistic attitude towards the South. • Massachusetts made it a state law that it was illegal for state officials to enforce the new fugitive slave law.
The Fall of the Whig Party • Election of 1852 • Democrats: Franklin Pierce • Committed to territorial expansion • Whigs: Winfield Scott • Supported Compromise of 1850 • Free-Soil Party: John Hale
1852 Results • Franklin Pierce and Democrats win • The Whig voters were split • Anti-slavery northern Whigs vs. Southern Pro-Slavery Whigs. • Free-Soil party stole some Northern Whig votes. • 1852 Election Significance • Marks the death of the Whig political party • Rise of sectional political party allegiance rather than ideological.
Transcontinental Railroad • A desire to connect the United States with the newly acquired lands in the west brought on the idea of a transcontinental railroad. • But where would it run? North vs. South • Topographically the best route seemed to be in the South (avoid Rocky Mountains) • Also couldn’t run a RR through unorganized territory. • Gadsden Purchase: 1853 • $10 million purchase of territory south of Utah territory and north of Mexico from Santa Anna for RR to run through.
The North’s RR Plan • Stephen Douglas: 1854 • Senator from Illinois “Little Giant” (5’4” tall) • Excellent orator and leader • Democrat: was more concerned with making money rather than slavery issue. • Wants to run the RR from Chicago to the west to bring commerce and real estate to Illinois. • Desires to organize the Nebraska territory.
Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854 • Douglas plan to organize the Nebraska Territory • Nebraska split into two sections: • Kansas and Nebraska • These territories would utilize popular sovereignty to decide slavery issue • Missouri Compromise would have to be repealed due to the 36° 30’ latitude line.
Kansas-Nebraska Response • Northerners outraged at the repealing of Missouri Compromise. • Republican Party emerges • Originated in Mid-West (Michigan, Wisconsin) • Party platform: Moral protest against slavery • Old northern Whigs, some northern Democrats, Free-Soilers, Know-nothings. • Abraham Lincoln among most prominent • Republican party would not be found anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. • Further cemented the sectional political allegiances.