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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

49ers to california
‘49ers to CALIFORNIA

Gold discovered on this site in CA in January 1848

49ers to california1
‘49ers to CALIFORNIA

Sites of goldfields in Northern California

49ers to california2

Gold miners came from around the world to get rich...

...most didn’t

49ers to california3

By 1850, California was encouraged to apply for

statehood to help bring about law and order

49ers to california4

  • Problem: 16 FREE states but 15 slave states

  • Imbalance in the Senate

  • Laws against slavery;

  • Southerners will not agree to this

Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850

Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, of the “Old Guard” introduced his last great compromise

for his nation

Clay s compromise of 1850
Clay’s Compromise of 1850

California admitted

as FREE state

Popular sovereignty

DC allows slaves BUT slave trade is banned

TX loses land, but gets debts paid

Clay s compromise of 18501
Clay’s Compromise of 1850

...the Southerners got their long wished-for law...


All Northerners were requiredby law to help return runaway slaves and cooperate with slave catchers

Compromise of 18501
Compromise of 1850

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!

Compromise of 18502
Compromise of 1850

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.”

Compromise of 18503
Compromise of 1850

This Seventh of March speechturned many Northerners

(like bankers and businessmen) toward compromise,


abolitionists and Free-Soilers attacked him as a traitor.

Compromise of 18504
Compromise of 1850

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

For evermore!

Compromise of 18505
Compromise of 1850

One of the “Young Guard”,

NY Senator William Seward was the eloquent speaker for

radical abolitionists.

He was against concession,

believing Free California

should be admitted

into the Union

without “gifts” to the South.

Compromise of 18506
Compromise of 1850

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

Compromise of 18507
Compromise of 1850

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.

Compromise of 18508
Compromise of 1850

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

Fugitive slave law
Fugitive Slave Law

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.

Compromise of 18509
Compromise of 1850

Runaway slave, Harriet Tubman became the best known conductor on the Underground RR

Compromise of 185010
Compromise of 1850

Most fugitives followed the North Star to freedom...

Compromise of 185011
Compromise of 1850

...but there were many routes to freedom...

Compromise of 185012
Compromise of 1850

Boston’s Famous Fugitive, Anthony Burns

Compromise of 185013
Compromise of 1850

Boston’s Famous Fugitive, Anthony Burns

Compromise of 185014
Compromise of 1850

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”