Presentation on theme: "Chapter 18 Renewing the Sectional Struggle, 1848–1854."— Presentation transcript:
Chapter 18 Renewing the Sectional Struggle, 1848–1854
I. The Popular Sovereignty Panacea As the topic of slavery began to heat up, it is interesting that Democrats and Whigs both had strong supporters in the North and the South. The idea of Popular Sovereignty gained traction – doctrine that stated that the sovereign people of a territory should themselves determine the status of slavery.
II. Political Triumphs for General Taylor Whigs select Zachary Taylor to run for president. – Clay should’ve but he had made too many enemies to get elected. – Taylor had no experience in politics and hadn’t even voted before… but he was a war hero. Northern antislavery men didn’t trust him (primarily because he owned a bunch of slaves.) So they began the Free Soil Party.
Free Soil Platform: – For the Wilmot Proviso (prohibited slavery in any territory acquired in the Mexican War) – Against slavery in the territories – Federal aid for internal improvements – Free government homesteads for settlers During the campaign neither side was willing to bring up the issue of slavery, they just attacked each other. – Ultimately, Taylors wartime popularity would pull him through.
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III. “Californy Gold” 1849 California gold rush – attached tens of thousands of people to CA almost overnight. Territorial government struggled to protect its citizens from the influx of lawless men entering the territory in search of gold. – Robbery, claim jumping, and murder were common. Californians drafted a constitution (1849) that excluded slavery (so they wouldn’t have to seek approval from southern politicians) and applied to Congress for admission.
Southern Politicians were upset by California’s attempt to bypass them and arose in violent opposition.
IV. Sectional Balance and the Underground Railroad The North outnumbered the South a little in the House of Representatives, but had equality in the Senate. – No one truly thought the institution of slavery was in danger for the states where it already existed. – But the South was worried about the ever shifting political balance based state representation.
There were 15 slave states and 15 free states. The admission of California as a free state would throw everything off. Southerners were also angry over the loss of their runaway slaves, many of which were assisted by the Underground Railroad. – Chain of “stations” (antislavery homes), through which “passengers” (runaway slaves) were directed by “conductors” (abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman.) 1850 southerners were demanding a new fugitive-slave law. – The old one passed in 1793 proved inadequate.
Some estimations suggest that the South was losing around 1,000 runaways a year out of the 4 million slaves.
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V. Twilight of the Senatorial Giants In 1850 Southern fears were such that Congress was confronted with a catastrophe. – Free-soil California was banging on the door. – “fire-eaters” in the South were voicing threats of secession. In 1849, Southerners had announced to meet the following year to discuss withdrawing from the Union. Clay, Calhoun, and Webster appeared together for the last time on the public stage.
Senator Henry Clay, seventy-three years old, played a crucial role. – He urged that the North and South both make concessions and that the North partially yield by enacting a more feasible fugitive-slave law. Senator John C. Calhoun, sixty-eight and dying of tuberculosis, championed the South in his last formal speech. – His plea was to leave slavery alone, return runaway slaves, give the South its rights as a minority, and to restore the political balance.
Senator Daniel Webster, sixty-eight years old and suffering from liver complications, urged all reasonable concessions to the South, including a new fugitive-slave law with teeth. – Webster’s rationale was that through climate, topography, and geography – a plantation economy, in other words a slavery economy, could not profitably exist in the Mexican Cession territory. Note: Webster was wrong… within a hundred years California became a great cotton producer
VI. Deadlock and Danger on Capitol Hill As the debates of 1850 raged on, the Young Guard in Congress, after listening to the Old Guard (Clay, Calhoun, and Webster,) focused more on purging and purifying than patching and preserving. William H. Seward, freshman senator of New York, opposed giving any concessions to the South. – Seward argued that Christian legislators must obey God’s moral law, an even “Higher Law” than the Constitution
Seward’s “Higher Law” must have struck a cord with President Taylor, who then vetoed any compromise passed by congress. – He seemed to be ready to “Jacksonize” dissenters by leading an army against them.
VII. Breaking the Congressional Logjam At the height of the controversy in 1850 President Taylor Died suddenly (most likely from an intestinal disorder.) Millard Fillmore, who was much more bent toward arguments for conciliation, gladly signed the compromise measures that passed Congress. Trying to get buy-in for the Compromise of 1850 was a struggle both in Congress as well as the country.
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VIII. Balancing the Compromise Scales North wins out… – CA tipped scales in the Senate for the North. – New Mexico and Utah were open to slavery through popular sovereignty, but the free soil group had the advantage. – Texas received $10 million but proved to be only a modest sum. – Slave “trade” only being outlawed in D.C. was a victory for the South, but it began the conversations for emancipation of the nation’s capital.
Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 – Fleeing slaves couldn’t testify on their own behalf – They were denied jury trial – Federal commissioners who handled fugitive cases received $5 if a runaway slave was released and $10 if not. – Whites who aided the slaves received heavy fines and jail sentences. They were sometimes ordered to join the slave-catchers.
Map 18-3 p386 Slavery After the Compromise of 1850