Why Did California’s Application for Statehood Cause a Sectional Crisis.
15.1: The Sectional Balance Begins to Unravel
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Northerners and southerners alike saw the territories in the Due west as a identify of opportunity to improve their quality of life. People from both regions wanted to ensure social mobility, but their views of social mobility differed significantly. For northerners, it meant modest, family unit homesteads where they could ensure self-sufficiency and participate in the market economy. For southerners, it meant the opportunity to acquire more land and more slaves on which to build their life. In the belatedly 1840s and early on 1850s, political leaders struggled to balance the interests of their constituents and maintain national unity. They managed to halt the sectional conflict with the Compromise of 1850, but their efforts provided only a temporary solution to the problem of a nation half slave and half gratis.
Slavery in the Territories
For at to the lowest degree some Americans, the Mexican-American War and the potential territorial expansion spelled trouble for the hereafter of the United States. An aging John C. Calhoun opposed the war because it would bring slavery back into the national political discourse. A young Abraham Lincoln had similar misgivings. From the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s, the Democratic Political party had managed to keep debates virtually slavery in Congress to a minimum with the gag rule. Calhoun and Lincoln realized, however, that any word over a treaty with United mexican states or the question of slavery in newly acquired territories would raise challenging issues. Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson too recognized the potential problem, when he noted, “United mexican states volition toxicant us.” These men, of course, were correct since the sectional divide simply intensified later on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Earlier the terminate of the war, Democrat Representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania brought up the question of slavery in the territories. Wilmot proposed to ban slavery and involuntary servitude in the territory acquired from Mexico. The Wilmot Proviso passed in the Firm of Representatives, but non in the Senate. The measure came before Congress several times over the side by side few years; in every instance, northerners voted for the compromise and southerners voted against it. Party affiliation, it seemed, mattered little when it came to the contend over slavery in the territories.
Wilmot introduced the measure because he opposed slavery and because he opposed southern command of the Democratic Party. Equally northerners lined upwards to support the mensurate, both reasons motivated their conclusion. Northern Democrats worried the question of slavery in the territories would drive antislavery voters to the Whigs; taking the atomic number 82 on banning slavery in the Southwest would lessen that possibility. Meanwhile, true abolitionists establish the proposal appealing. It brutal short of their ultimate goal to end slavery as quickly every bit possible, just it immune them to duck charges of extremism. Many northerners believed they were fulfilling the wishes of the founding fathers by fighting the extension of slavery. They maintained that the Revolutionary generation compromised on slavery in lodge to provide a decent interval for the institution to die out naturally. Equally such, supporters of the Wilmot Proviso invoked the Revolution’s legacy.
Few southerners expected slavery to have hold in nigh of the Mexican Cession because the climate was inhospitable to plantation slavery. However, they objected to the Wilmot Proviso because it would limit their ability to boss national politics. While they held a majority in the Senate in 1846, they could not compete in the Firm. The North’s population grew at a much faster rate than did the South’due south. If Congress legislated on the status of slavery in the territories, then information technology might likewise laissez passer laws on the status of slavery in u.s.a. in the future. Calhoun, hoping to halt farther debate on the consequence, introduced a measure suggesting that the Fifth Subpoena prevented Congress from excluding slavery from the territories. The Senate did not laissez passer Calhoun’s resolution considering the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Missouri Compromise had prepare a precedent for Congressional authority. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo went into effect, information technology became more important for Congress to gear up up territorial governments. Thus, the future of slavery in the territories became a major issue in the side by side presidential election.
Election of 1848
The extension of slavery proved problematic for both the Democrats and Whigs. Both parties had always been a coalition of diverse voters, and they had won national elections by holding those voters together in back up or opposition of issues like the tariff. Slavery had always been the issue leaders wanted to avert at all costs, simply that no longer seemed possible in 1848. Showtime, the Wilmot Proviso made the issue a matter of national public debate. Until the national government resolved the issue, it would go on to dominate politics. Second, antislavery advocates worked hard to continue the expansion of slavery on the minds of voters. Northern “Free Soilers” sought to prevent the expansion of slavery. Near Free Soilers did not worry much most the consequence of slavery on the slaves. Rather, they worried virtually how slavery undermined the dignity of gratuitous labor. Southern proponents of slavery hardly could empathize the Free Soil arguments. Slavery provided blessings to the slave and to the main, and thus should be spread to the new territories.
James Thousand. Polk opted non to run once again in 1848, so potential Autonomous candidates James Buchanan and Lewis Cass proposed solutions on the extension question in their attempt to win the nomination. Buchanan, Polk’s secretary of country, supported the assistants’southward plan to extend the Missouri Compromise line (the 36°30’ line) to the Pacific Ocean. The Senate voted to support the proposal several times before the election, merely the Firm voted it down. Lewis Cass, a Michigan senator, proposed letting the people who actually settled in the territories decide slavery’s fate. Popular sovereignty’southward most appealing feature was the ambiguity well-nigh the precise moment when settlers needed to make up one’s mind slavery’s fate. The doctrine won Cass the Democratic nomination because, equally long as the timing remained vague, information technology gave both sides promise they could win new territories to their cause.
Meanwhile, the Whigs hoped to maintain political party unity by adopting no platform at all. They also decided to bypass longtime Whig leader Henry Clay because of his association with the Whig’south efforts to oppose territorial expansion during the state of war. The Whigs needed to accept and bargain with the Mexican Cession because peace came before they nominated a candidate. Then, they chose Full general Zachary Taylor, a Mexican-American War hero. Historian James M. McPherson suggests his nomination “illustrated…the strange bedfellow nature of American politics.” Taylor hardly looked presidential; he often appeared in a uncomplicated uniform and a harbinger lid when in battle. At the aforementioned time, his prototype of “Onetime Rough and Prepare” had great appeal to the boilerplate voter. Furthermore, Taylor owned plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi, ensuring that southern Whigs would not carelessness the party afterwards their northern brethren supported the Wilmot Proviso.
Antislavery Whigs could not take Taylor’s nomination. Therefore, they left the party. New Yorker William H. Seward proclaimed the time had come to create “one grand Northern party of Freedom.” They joined with the Barnburners, who were a group of Democrats opposed to Cass’s nomination, equally well as members of the Freedom Party. In Baronial, the new Costless Soil Party met in Buffalo. It nominated Martin Van Buren for president and Charles Francis Adams for vice president. The Free Soil platform called for no more slave states and no more slave territories. At the same time, delegates carefully chose a one-time president and the son of a quondam president to requite their ticket more appeal to voters.
The presence of the Free Soil candidate in 1848 meant the Whigs and the Democrats could not ignore the issue of slavery. The Whigs promoted statements fabricated past Taylor that he would not veto any decisions Congress fabricated about slavery in the Northward; they as well highlighted Taylor’s status every bit a state of war hero and a slaveholder in the Southward. The Democrats, meanwhile, embraced the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Taylor won both the popular and the Electoral Higher votes. He was stronger in the Due south than in the Due north. Withal, Van Buren took ten percent of the popular vote, throwing many northern states into the Taylor column. As it turned out, Taylor shared the Free Soilers’ ideas about preventing the extension of slavery. Moreover, the Free Soilers elected ix representatives and ii senators, Salmon P. Chase (OH) and Charles Sumner (MA). Their influence far exceeded their numbers when the new Congress began to address California’s application for statehood.
Question of California
While the presidential election played out, an unexpected discovery in California quickened the pace of the exclusive carve up. In January 1848, a worker at John Sutter’s sawmill in northern California stumbled upon gilded. Give-and-take spread quickly to San Francisco about the discovery. Within days, the metropolis appeared empty every bit people poured into the gold fields. By the finish of the year, gold fever had shifted to the East coast. The and then-chosen “fortyniners” migrated to California to make their fortune. The population grew so quickly that military machine authorities chosen for an organized territorial regime. Earlier Congress acted, California had plenty people to consider applying for statehood. Throughout the debate on the extension of slavery, politicians causeless they would take plenty of time before any of the areas of the Mexican Cession would utilise for statehood. The gold rush, of grade, inverse that assumption.
As California’south population rose, national leaders weighed the question of whether the new state would exist slave or gratis. Southerners saw California as the most suitable territory acquired from Mexico for cotton production. Northerners refused to accept the thought that its suitability preordained information technology equally a slave land. Meanwhile, the residents of California grew impatient since the lame-duck Polk did little to encourage a divided Congress to appoint a territorial government before they adjourned. In fact, tensions ran and then high in the Senate that late one dark several rather drunk members began to substitution not just insults, but punches likewise. When Zachary Taylor took part, he made it clear he wanted to resolve the issue. He proposed to skip the creation of a territory and move directly to the awarding for statehood. So, the military authorities in California issued a call for a state ramble convention.
The president worked under the assumption that California, as well equally New Mexico, would become free states. Although he owned slaves, Taylor supported a Gratuitous Soil solution for the Mexican Cession as the best way to preserve the Union. The settlers in California also opposed slavery, which worked in Taylor’due south favor. In July 1849, a group of Texas slaveholders arrived in the gold fields. Later staking out their merits, they gear up their slaves panning for gold. White miners did not like the thought of competing with slave labor. Hence, they held a meeting to discuss slavery in the gilt fields. The miners resolved that “no slave or Negro should own claims or fifty-fifty piece of work in the mines.” Not long after forcing the Texans out, a delegate to the state constitutional convention from the mining region proposed a ban on slavery and involuntary servitude in California. The other delegates supported the mensurate unanimously and began to draft a constitution that barred slavery. Although California’s application for statehood seemed the perfect the opportunity to exam the real meaning of popular sovereignty, it instead provoked a crunch in Congress.
Compromise of 1850
Tensions between northern and southern leaders were quite high when the new Congress convened in December 1849. The Business firm could not even determine on a new speaker, much less on the more substantial questions about slavery one time Zachary Taylor proposed to acknowledge California to the Matrimony. The president, wanting to play on the members’ devotion to the Wedlock, asked them not to discuss the “exciting topics of a section character” that “provided the painful apprehensions in the public mind.” According to historian Michael A. Morrison, Taylor hoped not-activity in Washington would allow people in the Westward to have the initiative with respect to becoming a free or a slave state. All the same, few members of Congress—Whig or Democrat— wanted a quick solution.
Northern Whigs saw the president’south move as rejecting his support for the Wilmot Proviso. Southern Whigs saw the president as a traitor to the slaveholding class. Southern Democrats maintained the president wanted to harm the Southward on purpose. Southerners, regardless of party affiliation, believed they would, perhaps permanently, lose control of the Senate with California’s access equally a free state. Taylor’south request did little to quell the debate. According to i northerner, it seemed that slavery affected every public policy issue in 1850. Henry Clay once over again decided to step in to promote a compromise. Denied the Whig nomination in 1848, Dirt wanted to seize the initiative from the president and preserve national unity as he had done with the Missouri Compromise. Daniel Webster and Stephen A. Douglas aided him in working out the details and finally getting Congressional approval. At the same time, John C. Calhoun and William H. Seward led the opposition to any compromise.
Route to the Compromise
On January 29, 1850, Henry Clay rose before the Senate to introduce a series of measures to relieve the exclusive tension. Throughout much of his career, the Kentucky senator had promoted economic growth and national unity at the expense of slavery, even though he owned slaves. He proposed measures that required both sides to give a little in the increasingly tense contend. Kickoff, California would enter the Union as a free state; the rest of the Mexican Cession would organize without brake on slavery, or along the lines popular sovereignty. Second, Texas would abandon its claim to territory in New Mexico; in return, the federal government would cover debts incurred by Texas when information technology was an contained commonwealth. Third, Congress would abolish the slave trade but non slavery in the Commune of Columbia. Finally, Congress would prefer a stronger fugitive slave law, but it would not regulate the interstate slave merchandise. Clay’s proposals touched off an eight-month debate in Congress. Southern and northern radicals opposed the measures for a variety of reasons.
John C. Calhoun spoke ardently for the southern position. Calhoun, who was too sick to deliver his ain speech, blamed the North for the crisis. He unsaid only the Due north could save the Union “by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory, and to do her duty by causing the stipulations relative to fugitive slaves to be faithfully fulfilled.” Moreover, the Northward needed to “provide for the insertion of a provision in the Constitution…which will restore to the Southward in substance the power she possessed of protecting herself, earlier the equilibrium between the sections was destroyed by the action of this Government.” If the North failed to reply to the South’s concerns, Calhoun indicated the South could non stay in the Union.
In his outset spoken language before the Senate, William H. Seward explained the northern opposition to compromise. Seward denied the Constitution protected the right to ain human being property and, even if it did, slavery was “repugnant to the police of nature and of nations.” While the Constitution did recognize slavery, he implied the institution was incompatible with the nation’southward founding principles. “Freedom is…in harmony with the Constitution of the United states of america…You may split up slavery from South Carolina, and the state will still remain; but if y’all subvert freedom there, the state will end to be.” Finally, he suggested Americans, though subject area to the Constitution, were subject to a college police force as well. Clay, Taylor, and others lambasted the radical and inflammatory nature of Seward’s comments, but to some extent, he represented the feelings of much of the upper North.
While the radicals gear up the tone of public argue, moderates from the lower North and upper Due south worked toward a compromise. In a speech supporting the compromise, Daniel Webster said, “I speak to-24-hour interval for the preservation of the Union…I speak to-twenty-four hour period out of a solicitous and anxious center for the restoration to the state of that serenity and harmonious harmony which brand the blessings of this Union so rich, and then dear to usa all.” Many moderates shared his opinion and hoped to gain support for Dirt’s scheme. A special Congressional committee combined the proposals into the one measure. The supporters of compromise hoped the want to preserve the Wedlock would outweigh exclusive interests so they could pass the “Omnibus Bill.” Unfortunately, they hoped in vain.
Radicals, who equanimous nearly two-thirds of Congress, did not intend to accept the compromise. Neither, for that thing, did Zachary Taylor. He wanted to see California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Minnesota admitted to statehood before the question of slavery was addressed, a proposal that would have given the North a 10-vote majority in the Senate. A sudden turn of events inverse the fence over the compromise. Zachary Taylor died unexpectedly on July 9, 1850. Millard Fillmore, a New Yorker who ardently supported a compromise, succeeded him. Even with Fillmore’s support, the Omnibus Nib failed to win a majority in either sleeping room.
While Clay gave upward on the compromise, other members of Congress decided to try a different tactic. Led by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, supporters of compromise worked to save the state of affairs. Douglas broke Dirt’s proposal into separate parts. By introducing the measures ane at a time, he managed to gather support from varying coalitions of Whigs and Democrats and Northerners and Southerners on each issue. In September, Fillmore signed each bill—collectively known as the Compromise of 1850—into law. California entered the Union as a free state. New Mexico and Utah territories were organized, but Congress deferred the question of slavery until their admission equally states. Texas gave upwardly a portion of its western boundary to New Mexico in render for $10 one thousand thousand. Congress abolished the slave trade in the District of Columbia. Finally, Congress passed a more stringent fugitive slave law.
Affect of the Compromise
People effectually the land rejoiced at how the compromise saved the Union; the president even chosen it “a final settlement” of sectional differences. However, radicals on both sides maintained the battle would go on, especially when the Avoiding Slave Police went into effect. Few members of Congress had paid much attention to the provisions of the measure designed to aid slaveholders capture runaway slaves. The nation’s first fugitive slave law came in 1793 considering Article IV of the Constitution said “No person held to service or labor in i state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in upshot of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on merits of the political party to whom such service or labor may be due.” However, the 1850 version made the law much harsher than it had been in the past.
The Fugitive Slave Constabulary of 1850 required all citizens to help in the capture of fugitive slaves. U.S. Marshalls had the ability to deputize citizens to aid in seizing runaways. Those who refused to assistance or interfered in the try to capture slaves faced stiff fines and jail time. Furthermore, those accused of being runaways had no right to a jury trial and no correct to testify in their own defence force. Federal commissions could send blacks, runaway or gratis, dorsum to slavery solely on the sworn statement of individuals challenge to be their owners. The constabulary likewise said the authorities would pay commissioners a $ten fee if they establish in favor of the claimant, only a $5 fee if they found in favor of the accused. Frustrated about the preference the police gave to southern slaveholders, northerners began to obstruct its implementation. While the law did not turn all northerners into antislavery advocates, many believed that accepting it would undermine their states’ freedom of pick.
In northern communities, blacks and whites banded together to protect runaways. They passed “personal freedom laws” denying federal officials the apply of country facilities. They formed vigilance committees to warn blacks when slave catchers arrived in town and to obstruct their efforts in capturing runaways. In Boston, abolitionists helped fugitives William and Ellen Craft of Georgia escape capture by harassing the slave catchers in the streets. They also freed Shadrach, who fled his primary in Virginia, from a federal courtroom. Abolitionists saved some runaways with such daring stunts, but they could not salvage them all. In the 1850s, commissioners returned over iii hundred blacks to the South and gear up only eleven free. Most fugitives opted to head to Canada rather than wait to see whether a slave catcher would come after them.
In Christiana, a small Quaker customs nearly Gettysburg, a slaveholder died in an attempt to capture his runaways. Millard Fillmore, under pressure from southerners to enforce the constabulary, sent the marines to find the runaways and those responsible for the slaveholder’s death. The federal government tried the resisters for treason, but the case fell autonomously. Local juries would simply not convict those accused of violating the law. Southerners expressed horror at the open defiance of the police force, even though most northerners complied with information technology. Historian William W. Freehling remarks that white southerners happily relied on the use of federal power “whenever necessary to sustain the Peculiar Establishment,” even every bit they promoted states’ rights. Historian Vernon Burton indicated southerners expected the federal authorities to protect their right to property even when it came at the expense of northerners’ right to free spoken language.
With tensions already on the rise, the antislavery move stepped up their efforts to persuade the northern population (and if possible some southerners) about the evils of slavery. They relied heavily on slave narratives and novels designed to highlight the worst aspects of slavery.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, became the most widely known of these efforts. The book, published in 1852, caused a awareness in the North. In the first year alone, it sold 300,000 copies. Most people were moved past the pain and suffering of the book’s main characters, Uncle Tom and Eliza. More than ever before, they began to recall nigh the moral implications of slavery because Stowe successfully managed to link the antislavery cause with the preservation of the family. Stowe clearly criticized the southern way of life. Still, in making the villain, Simon Legree, a northern transplant, she also blamed northerners for their complicity in perpetuating slavery.
While information technology would be hard to quantify the impact of Stowe’southward book, James McPherson maintains that few contemporaries “doubted its power.” Influential political leaders both at home and abroad read
Uncle Tom’south Cabin
. Moreover, the “vehemence of the southern denunciations” of the book served equally “best estimate of how close they striking home.” Well-nigh southerners considered Stowe’s volume slanderous. The
Southern Literary Messenger
idea the South had every right to criticize the book considering it contained and then many false accusations. Pro-slavery authors responded with dozens of books designed to counter the images presented in the antislavery literature. Most of their efforts suggested that slaves lived far better lives than workers in the North did; they focused on the goodness and gentility of life on the plantation. They suggested that slavery’s shortcomings came not from deficiencies in the establishment, but from an unequal spousal relationship.
As national elections approached in 1852, much similar in 1848, Whigs and the Democrats sought to close the sectional rifts that had opened within their parties. Both parties chose moderates who had not inflamed voters’ passions on the question of slavery. The Whigs needed to find a candidate other than Millard Fillmore, because antislavery Whigs would not vote for him afterwards he ardently upheld The Avoiding Slave Police force. Southern Whigs refused to support William H. Seward because of the “Higher Constabulary” speech. To maintain party unity, they selected Winfield Scott, a Mexican State of war hero and not-slaveholding Virginian. The Democrats also bypassed their better-known members, including James Buchanan, Lewis Cass, and Stephen Douglas. They settled on Franklin Pierce, a former New Hampshire senator.
The Democrats and the Whigs wanted to avert the result of slavery merely had no other issues on which to campaign. A salubrious economic system meant no one cared much near the tariff, a national bank, or internal improvements. Therefore, the campaign descended into a series of vicious personal attacks. The Whigs implied Pierce had no talent for governing; moreover, he was a cowardly drunk. In return, the Democrats, painted Scott as a nativist, which prevented him from picking upwardly votes amidst immigrants. Pierce triumphed in both the popular and the Electoral College votes. Free Soil candidate Nathan P. Hale siphoned off some of Scott’s pop votes, simply about Democrats returned to the party fold, thus giving Pierce the edge. Moreover, near southern Whigs could not accept Scott as a candidate considering he seemed less than devoted to the Compromise of 1850. The exclusive divide for the Whigs did not bode well for the political party’south hereafter. The Democrats, at least temporarily, papered over their divisions. After the election, many people believed the tensions had finally subsided.
When Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed, “Mexico will toxicant us,” he quite accurately captured the effect territorial acquisition from the Mexican-American War had on the United States. New territories raised new questions about the extension of slavery that political leaders could not easily answer in the belatedly 1840s and early 1850s. The Wilmot Proviso, proposing to bar slavery in territories acquired from the war, touched off debate in Congress that took over four years to resolve. The gold blitz forced a quick decision on the slave issue considering California petitioned for statehood in 1849. Californians desired to enter the Marriage as a gratis state, and many southerners stood aghast at the real possibility of the Senate tilting in favor of the free states. Southerners threatened secession. In response, Senator Henry Dirt proposed a series of measures, collectively known every bit the Compromise of 1850, to preserve the Union. After months of debate, Congress passed the compromise. Slavery, however, was not a thing that would disappear. Concerns about the response of those opposed to slavery to the Avoiding Slave Police force and the publication of
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
to promote the end of slavery kept North and South divided into 1852 when Democrat Franklin Pierce triumphed over Whig Winfield Scott in the presidential election.”
The Wilmot Proviso
- was unconstitutional.
- would prohibit slavery in lands caused from Mexico.
- passed both houses of Congress.
- would extend the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific.
The Compromise of 1850
- postponed California statehood.
- gave Texas more territory.
- ended slavery in Washington, D.C.
- strengthened the fugitive slave laws.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’south Cabin
- was perhaps the nearly effective slice of antislavery propaganda.
- was perhaps the near effective piece of proslavery propaganda.
- ended department hostilities after its publication in 1852.
- presented a motion picture of happy, well-treated slaves and chivalrous masters.
Why Did California’s Application for Statehood Cause a Sectional Crisis