Wilmot Proviso/Compromise of 1850

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Wilmot Proviso/Compromise of 1850

The Wilmot Proviso came about when President Polk asked Congress for $2 million dollars, during the Mexican War, in an attempt to buy peace with Mexico. This Proviso named after its sponsor David Wilmot, an antislavery Democrat from Pennsylvania, was an attempt by opponents of slavery to prevent slaves to be introduction into the newly purchased territories from Mexico after the war. The proviso passed the House but not the Senate due to the Southern take on slavery. They wanted equal rights as Americans to move into these new territories with their possessions and slaves in the South were considered property.

The issue behind why the Wilmot Proviso was not being accepted by the South partly came about from the perception the South had of President Polk. Polk through his actions as President gained a tremendous amount of respect from the Northern and Western States, this made the Southern states resent Polk and felt that they were paying the price for his popularity. As the debate of sectionalism grew Polk attempted to resolve this matter by extended the Missouri Compromise out to the coast of California. This gave the same rights that anyone south the line could have slaves and anyone north could not, thus allowing the people to decide the status of slavery within their region. The term given to this action by its supporter’s was called “squatter sovereignty” at first and then refined to be named “popular sovereignty”.

This debate which lasted for months flowed over into the Presidency of Zachary Taylor; a career officer in the Army and a strong nationalist did not defend slavery or southern sectionalism. Even though a southerner and a plantation slave owner he managed to win the Presidency over the Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass, who was in favor of “squatter sovereignty”, due the emergence of a third party the Free Soil Party. The Free Soil Party nominated ex-president Martin Van Buren to led them into the...
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