Presentation on theme: "Part 2 Saving the Union. The issue of slavery really heated up in the 1850’s. When California applied for statehood, tempers flared. Senator Benton of."— Presentation transcript:
Part 2 Saving the Union
The issue of slavery really heated up in the 1850’s. When California applied for statehood, tempers flared. Senator Benton of Missouri was himself a slave owner. However, he realized most of California lay north of the Missouri Compromise line. Senator Benton criticized Senator Foote of Mississippi for blocking California’s admission.
Senator Foote was so upset at Benton, that in the Senate, he pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Benton’s chest. As other Senators watched in horror, Benton roared, “Let him fire! Stand out of the way and let the assassin fire!” Fortunately no blood was shed, but many Americans realized that a peaceful solution to the slavery issue would not be possible.
After the Missouri Compromise, other states, both free and slave had joined the United States. Between 1821 and 1848, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin had joined as free states. Arkansas, Florida, and Texas joined as slave states.
When California asked to join the Union, it would have upset the balance of power.
When California requested statehood as a free state, southerners were worried that the balance of power in Congress would tip in favor of the North. They feared that more free states would be carved out of the Mexican Cession. Some southerners were so upset, that there was talk of seceding, or leaving the Union.
Congress turned to 73-year-old Henry Clay who had helped 30 years earlier with the Missouri Compromise. Clay warned the country might break apart. John C. Calhoun prepared the South’s response. He was dying from tuberculosis, and could only sit, wrapped in a cloak in Congress, and glare at his enemies.
Calhoun said that slavery should be allowed in all of the new western territories. He also demanded that all fugitive, or runaway, slaves should be returned to the South. The South was really trying to get the North to admit that slaves were property. If the North would not meet the South’s demands, they should agree to depart in peace.
“I speak today not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a northern man, but as an American…I speak today for the preservation of the Union…There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility.”
Webster had been Clay’s rival for decades. However, he supported his ideas for Unity. He worried that the states would not be able to separate without fighting a civil war. A civil war is a war between people in the same country. Webster felt slavery was wrong, but the breakup of the United States would be even worse. He was willing to compromise.
While the debate continued, John C. Calhoun died. So did President Taylor who had opposed Clay’s compromise plan. Henry Clay gave more than 70 speeches in favor of compromise. When he became too sick to continue, a younger Senator from Illinois named Stephen Douglas, continued promoting the compromise until it passed.
#1-- California was allowed to join the United States as a free state. #2 -- The Mexican Cession was divided into the territories of New Mexico and Utah. Popular sovereignty would decide the slavery question.
#3 -- Slave trading was ended in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. Slave trading could continue between the different states. #4 -- A brand new, much stricter fugitive slave law was passed.
Many northerners had ignored earlier fugitive slave laws. The new law required all citizens to help catch runaway slaves. If you were caught helping runaways, you could receive a $1,000 fine, and/or be jailed for up to 6 months.
New courts were set up to handle the cases of runaways. Judges were paid $10 for sending a slave back to the South, and $5 for freeing them. Some corrupt judges sent free blacks to the South just to earn money. Some free blacks, fearing kidnappings, moved to Canada. The law made more northerners hate slavery even more.
Martin R. Delany, a black newspaper editor spoke for many northerners—black and white. “My house is my castle…If any man approaches that house in search of a slave— I care not who he may be, whether constable or sheriff, magistrate or even judge of the Supreme Court…if he crosses the threshold of my door, and I do not lay him a lifeless corpse at my feet, I hope the grave may refuse my body a resting place.”
A lady named Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a very controversial novel called Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Although Stowe had seen very little slavery up close, her book was popular. It told the story of Uncle Tom, a slave who was eventually beaten to death by an overseer. It eventually sold 300,000 copies and was turned into a play. Many Americans are starting to believe that slavery is morally wrong.