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The Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act and 1852 election. California Statehood. Civic leaders emerged in California who became increasingly frustrated by the inability of military authorities to maintain law and order. Led to pressure to make California and New Mexico states immediately.

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The Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act and 1852 election


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    1. The Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act and 1852 election

    2. California Statehood Civic leaders emerged in California who became increasingly frustrated by the inability of military authorities to maintain law and order. Led to pressure to make California and New Mexico states immediately. December 1849 California organised a free state government. 4 December 1849 Taylor endorsed immediate statehood for California and enjoined Congress to avoid bringing slavery into the issue.

    3. The Great Debate • Spotlight fell on the Senate where the Compromise of 1850 was enacted. • 1850 Clay presented a package of eight resolutions that solved all disputed issues: • Admit California as a free state • Organise the remainder of the Southwest without restriction as to slavery • Deny Texas its claim to Rio Grande boundary up to its source • Uphold slavery in the District of Columbia • Abolish the slave trade across its boundaries • Adopt a more effective Fugitive Slave Act • Deny congressional authority to deal with the interstate slave trade.

    4. 5-6 February Clay presented his case: California should be admitted on the terms that its own people had approved. • 4 March sick with Tuberculosis, a colleague read Calhoun’s remarks: the south needed an acceptance of its rights – • Equality in the territories • The return of fugitive slaves • Some guarantee of “an equilibrium between the sections”. • 7 March Webster spoke: the extent of slavery was already determined by the Northwest Ordinance, by the Missouri Compromise, and in the new lands by the law of nature. • 11 March Seward gave the antislavery reply to Webster: he demanded the abolition of slavery. • Mid April: a committee of 13 bundled Clay’s suggestion into one bill (called the “Omnibus bill”).

    5. Toward a Compromise • Clay’s compromise was faltering but then: • 4 July 1850 Taylor died of gastroenteritis – this strengthened the chance of compromise. • President Fillmore decided to support Clay’s compromise • Stephen Douglas - decided to break up the Omnibus into six (later five) separate measures. • By early September 1850 the main bills were passed and on 20 September Fillmore signed the last five of the measures into law. • For the time, it has defused an explosive situation and settled each of the major points at issue.

    6. Terms of the Compromise California entered as a free state. New Mexico was made a territory and set the Texas boundary at its present location. Utah Act set up another territory. A new Fugitive Slave Act. The slave trade (not slavery itself) was abolished from the District of Columbia.

    7. The Fugitive Slave Law Fugitive Slave Law offered a strong temptation to kidnap free blacks by denying alleged fugitives a free trial and providing and delivering each fugitive to federal authorities. Within a month of law’s enactment, claims had been made all over the USA. Fewer than 200 slaver were returned to bondage in six years. The Fugitive Slave Act had a massive effect in widening the deepening anti-slavery impulse in the North.

    8. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the 1852 election 1851 Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published which had more of a persuasive appeal than the Fugitive Slave Act. It took some time for the novel to have an effect as the country was experiencing a spate of prosperity and as the 1852 election approached, people wanted to lay aside sectional quarrels. Democrats chose Franklin Pierce as their candidate and pledged themselves to uphold the measures of the 1850 Compromise. Whigs dumped Fillimore and chose Winfield Scott and, despite opposition from the north, endorsed the 1850 Compromise. Pierce won the election.