Chapter 14: From Compromise to Secession
At this time, the Mexican American War had just ended and the US had an equal number of free and slave states. The war ended in 1848. If you remember right, the Mexican American War left America with, through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Mexican Cession), the former Mexican provinces of California and Mexico. Mexico would also, in subsequence of the treaty, recognize the Rio Grande as the Southern Border of Mexico. In return, the US would pay Mexico 15 million and assume claims of Mexican citizens against Americans.
The vast territory acquired from this war threatened to upset the balance of free states and slave states.
Finding a Compromise
The Doctrine of Free Soil:
Congress should prohibit slavery n the new acquired territories (The Wilmont Proviso).
Didn’t demand the end of slavery but rather wanted to keep the West a land of opportunity for whites only so that they wouldn’t have to compete with black laborers/free blacks for work.
A new party develops out of this.
The Free-Soil Party in 1848
This party also advocated free homesteads- public land grants to small farmers- and internal improvements
They (northerners) believe that slavery impedes white’s progress. .
The doctrine was opposed by Southerners.
It was proposed by a democrat senator from Michigan, Lewis Cass. 2.
They key ideas was that each territory would decide whether to permit slavery or not in its domain.
Free-soilers and proslavery extremist not satisfied by this proposal.
Extending the Missouri Compromise Line
As of now, in the Louisiana Territory north of latitude 36°30’ slavery is prohibited.
Moderate Southerners proposed extending the Missouri Compromise line to the pacific and permitting territories north of that line to be non-slave.
Utah and California sought admission to the union as free states. B.
Texas, slave, admitted in 1845, claimed the eastern half of New Mexico where slavery had already been abolished by the Mexican government.
Northerners are attacking the fact that slavery is allowed in the District of Columbia.
Southerners are mad about the lax enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. III.
President Zachary Taylor
He believed that neither California nor New Mexico were suited for Slavery. Thus, he prompted California to bypass the territorial stage preceding statehood and to draw up is constitution in 1849 and apply directly for statehood and a free state. He hinted the New Mexico should do the same.
In theory, his plan would have solved the problem because it would give the north two new free states while also acknowledging the southern position to bar or permit slavery as it choose.
Though practical, it dismayed southerners of both parties. 1.
Southern Whigs didn’t want a plan from the president that would achieve the goals of the Wilmont proviso (no slavery in the Mexican Secession territories), the plan that they opposed.
In addition, Southerners questioned Taylor’s assumption that slavery would never take root in California and New Mexico.
So this guy, Henry Clay, who is at the time, a political novice, decides he wants to throw his two cents into the whole “free state-slave state” debate so he proposes this “ominous bill.”
The ominous bill had a whole bunch of facets to it:
California comes in as a free state
The Mexican Secession is split in two.
New Mexico and Utah
Both without federal restrictions on slavery.
Texas and New Mexico Boundary is settled on terms favorable...
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