Objectives 1. Explain how the slavery issue affected the debate over the acquisition of Texas and Mexican territory. 2. Analyze the role that the slavery issue played in the elections and political debates of the late 1840s. 3. Summarize the provisions of Henry Clay’s proposal to Congress. 4. Discuss why some people opposed the Compromise of 1850.
The Debate Reopens Slavery continued to be a issue in the 1830’s. Tensions were growing in Congress and many carried knives into the House. Political debates would erupt into violence. The annexation of Texas: Texas petitioned for annexation into the United States and they permitted slavery. This would put the balance of power towards the south. 1845: Congress settled the issue favoring the South. They would come in as a slave state and the state legislature had the option to divide Texas into five states. Congress extended westward the dividing line that was set by the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise: banned slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of 36”30’-Missouri’s southern boundary.
Effects on Annexation Debates 1. Northerners feared that the addition of Texas would tip the balance to slave-holding states. 2. Congress admitted Texas as a slave state and authorized it to split into as many as five states. 3. As a solution, people suggested popular sovereignty and the Wilmot Proviso.
Popular sovereignty and the Wilmot Proviso Even after Texas entered the Union the debate over slavery didn’t end. Due to the Mexican War the debate whether slavery would be allowed in any territory acquired from Mexico. President James Polk: suggested extending the Missouri Compromise line westward to the Pacific Ocean. Popular Sovereignty: Lewis Cass, Michigan senator and Stephen Douglas, Illinois senator suggested that citizens of new territories should vote on whether to permit slavery.
August 1846: David Wilmot, Representative of Pennsylvania introduced an amendment to the bill. Wilmot Proviso banned slavery in all lands that would be acquired from Mexico. Of course political lines were drawn. The south threatened to secede if it became a law. Ultimately the Wilmot Proviso was cut from the final bill.
The 1848 Election Winning the Mexican War gave the U.S. much of Mexico’s northern territory. Congress had yet to decide if slavery would be permitted. The Democrats chose: Lewis Cass The Whigs chose: Mexican War hero General Zachary Taylor Neither party would address the issue of slavery. Free-Soil Party: formed in August, 1848 by anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats. The group demanded Congress prohibit the expansion of slavery into the territories. The platform supported free western homesteads with federal funding for internal improvements. The party supported free labor and opposed the spread of slavery into the territories, gained support in northern small towns and rural areas-places undergoing economic changes brought on by the Market Revolution. In 1852, for example, the party won 10 percent more votes in the shoemaking towns of Massachusetts than anywhere else in the state.
Effects on 1848 Election Democrats nominated Lewis Cass, who favored popular sovereignty Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor, who had few known views. Antislavery forces united and formed the Free- Soil Party, which nominated Martin Van Buren. Taylor won the presidency, and the Free- Soilers won several seats in the House.
The Slavery Issue in Congress Effects on Other Political Debates: Created disputes over the introduction of California and New Mexico. Pro-Slavery forces demanded a stronger fugitive slave bill. [1842-The Supreme Court had ruled that state officials did not have to assist federal officials in capturing runaway slaves. ] The south continued to oppose any efforts to abolish slavery. Antislavery forces wanted to limit the size of New Mexico.
Clay’s Proposal 1850-Henry Clay urged the northerners and southerners to compromise. Clay met with Daniel Webster, veteran of the Whig party. Clay felt that the response was positive enough to present to the Senate. Antislavery interests: Clay proposed admitting California as a free state and abolishing slave trade-slavery itself-District of Columbia. Advocated paying Texas $10 million to abandon its claim to part of the New Mexico Territory. Clay suggested to persuade the southerners that the New Mexico territory be divided into two territories –New Mexico and Utah. Clay wanted Congress to pass a tougher fugitive slave law. The law would force state and local officials as well as private citizens to aid federal officials in the capture and return of escaped slaves. Clay tried to advocate for the stability of the Union.
Northerners who supported the breakup of the U.S. were abolitionists. Southerners who did were known as fire-eaters-group of southern political leaders who held extreme pro-slavery views. [Fire-eaters although scholars do not know the exact origins of the term fire- eater, it implies violence and radicalism. By 1851 Americans throughout the United States used it to refer to political extremists in both the North and the South. Overtime, however, scholars applied it only in reference to southern radicals. During the 1850s, though, southern radicals largely rejected the term as a negative one.]
The Great Debate John C. Calhoun: Although John C. Calhoun served as Andrew Jackson’s vice president, the two men had a rocky relationship. As secretary of war in the Monroe administration. Calhoun had tried to discipline Jackson for pushing into Spanish Florida. President Monroe stifled the effort, however. As vice president, Calhoun came into conflict with Jackson again, as well as his secretary of state, Martin Van Buren. Following one complicated wrangle, Calhoun resigned the vice presidency. He later entered the U.S. Senate.
Calhoun was a southern statesman and a advocate for slavery and a fire-eater. He was from South Carolina and opposed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Compromise of 1850: [September 20] Clay’s compromise proposal was supported by President Millard Fillmore and was passed by Congress.