The Compromise Of 1850: A Temporary Solution

1075 words - 5 pages

Compromise, according to the New Oxford Dictionary, is an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. Throughout history, favored compromises, as well as controversial ones, have been made, such as the Compromise of 1850. Arguably one of the most debated compromises in the history of America, the Compromise was first proposed by Henry Clay on January 29, 1850, (pbs.org), and was intended to ease the growing tensions between the North and South. While successful, it was only a temporary solution. In retrospect, this particular agreement did more harm than good. The Compromise of 1850 acted as a catalyst for the Civil War because it demonstrated the ...view middle of the document...

com). Ironically, the South had similar fears; an expansion of free states would lead to Northern dominance. With the North in control, Congress would inevitably ban slavery, depriving the South of economic opportunities (examiner.com). California’s admission as a free state all but guaranteed the South’s fears. The Union at the time consisted of fifteen free states and fifteen slave states, but California’s admission would tip the balance and give the free states a majority in the Senate; its growing population would add 61 more votes for the North in the House of Representatives (Goldfield, Abbot, Anderson, J. Arsinger, P. Arsinger, Barney, and Weir, 390). With New Mexico preparing to follow in California’s footsteps and become the seventeenth free state, Northerners were fairly satisfied and Southerners understandably outraged. Sectional tensions mounting, the promise of popular sovereignty in the land bought from the Mexican Cession was just enough to maintain the current peace. Popular sovereignty enabled residents of the New Mexico and Utah territories to either vote for slavery, or against it. This part of the Compromise did not sit well with Northerners, as it permitted the possible expansion of slavery.
The Fugitive Slave Act, as well, was despised by many in the North and viewed as an unfair law. (ushistory.org). The Act brought the danger of slavery much closer to home; it threatened the lives of escaped slaves living in the North, and even of free black Northerners (Goldfield, Abbot, Anderson, J. Arsinger, P. Arsinger, Barney, and Weir, 393). Required by law to assist Southern slave catchers in returning slaves, Northerners were unwillingly becoming more active and more a part of slavery. Many people who were initially uninvolved with slavery began voicing their discontent, and sectional tensions were growing increasingly antagonistic.
The inabilities of the North and South to come to an agreement is due to the fact that the Compromise of 1850 was not a compromise where either side needed to consent to certain terms desired by the other. For instance, Southerners saw no potential for slavery in territories out in the West, so the North would have acquired California in any case. (Goldfield, Abbot, Anderson, J. Arsinger, P. Arsinger, Barney, and Weir, 391)....

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