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Chapter 18: Renewing the Sectional Struggle (1848-1854)

After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Wilmot Proviso, the rivalry of Northern abolitionists and Southern supporters of slavery threatened to divide the country The Popular Sovereignty Panacea The Whig and the Democratic parties helped unify the nation because had both Northern and Southern support, and the slavery issue threatened to split support between the North and South, so politicians decided the best thing to do would be to ignore the slavery issue President Polk only served one term because of ill health from overwork 1848 the Democrats chose General Lewis Cass as their candidate for the next presidential election Although the Democrats stayed mum on the slavery issue, Cass' view of popular sovereignty, that the slavery issue should be decided by the sovereign people of each territory, was well known Supporters of popular sovereignty: The public, because it followed the democratic tradition of self-determination Politicians, because seemed like a compromise between banning and protecting slavery in the territories But popular sovereignty might help spread slavery

Political Triumphs The Whigs chose General Zachary Taylor as their candidate for the next presidential election, because he was a war hero after Buena Vista, and because Clay had made too many enemies for General Tyler The Whig platform avoided troublesome issues, like slavery, and mostly extolled Taylor's homespun virtues The Free Soil party: Some Northern abolitionists formed the Free Soil party because distrusted both Cass and Taylor Chose former president Van Buren as their candidate for the presidential election Unlike the other parties, were loud and clear that they opposed slavery in the territories A variety of political types supported it: Industrialists because Polk had reduced protective tariffs Some Democrats because suspected Southern dominance in Polk insisting on all of Texas but settling for part of Oregon Some Northerners because did not want to share the new territories with blacks Conscience Whigs because opposed slavery on moral grounds Policies were founded on free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men: Opposed slavery because it kept free white workers from advancing from wage-earning dependence to self-employment Argued that the American tradition of upward social mobility could only be maintained through free soil in the West Wage labor could not compete with free slave labor, so if slavery, then no chance for workers to own property Taylor won the 1848 presidential elections because of his popularity from the war, and because Van Buren diverted votes from Cass

Californy Gold

Early 1848 gold was discovered in CA, and Taylor was forced to bring up the slavery issue Miners streamed into CA in hopes of striking it rich, but only a few did, and most of the profit was made by those who provided services to the miners Many criminals and outcasts settled in CA, and the CA government could not handle them, so high crime rates But most Californians were law-abiding citizens who needed protection, so 1849 with the support of Taylor drafted a constitution and applied to Congress for admission But ^ would bypass the customary territorial stage, so Southerners would have no chance of blocking free soil, so conflict By 1850, the South was relatively well-off, with a strong political hold (ex. President Taylor) and profitable cotton business; slavery was not threatened in the South But the South had concerns: The admission of CA would make for 16 free states and 15 slave states in the Senate, tipping the balance; and the admission of CA could set a precedent for NM and Utah, which were already agitating for admission as free states Texas wanted to keep the area that makes up about half of present-day NM, but the US government wanted to split it up Northerners wanted to abolish slavery in Washington, D.C., which was between slaveholding MD and slaveholding VA The loss of runaway slaves, often with help from Northerners The Underground Railroad: The Underground Railroad was an informal chain of antislavery homes (stations) with white or black abolitionists (conductors) guiding runaway slaves (passengers) to freedom One such conductor was Harriet Moses Tubman, an illiterate runaway slave herself The old fugitive-slave law from 1793 was ineffective Even though only 1,000 out of 4 million slaves ran away each year, the Southerners were incensed because the Northerners had a holier-than-thou attitude and refused to obey the law 1850 free-soil CA wanted admission to the Union, while the fire-eating South threatened secession, so brought together the immortal trio of Old Guard politicians Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster in the Senate for the last time The Great Pacifier Clay urged that the North and South both make concessions, and a more powerful fugitive-slave law be enacted The Little Giant IL senator Stephen A. Douglas supported Clay The Great Nullifier Calhoun: Agreed with the purpose of Clays concessions, but thought they did not provide adequate safeguards Wanted to leave slavery be, return runaways, give the South minority rights, restore the political balance, and have two presidents, one each from the South and North Died 1850, before the conflict was resolved Webster: In his famous 1850 Seventh of March speech, Urged all reasonable concessions to the South, incl. a more powerful fugitive-slave law Argued that compromise, concession, and reason would be the best solutions, because God had decided which areas could support a plantation economy and slavery; CA was not one of these areas

Sectional Balance and the Underground Railroad

Twilight of the Senatorial Giants

Northern bankers and merchants supported because stood to lose money by secession But abolitionists felt betrayed because had assumed that he was an abolitionist, when in fact he had opposed slavery but opposed disunion even more The Old Guard politicians, who had not grown up with the Union, wanted to patch and Deadlock and preserve the Union, while the Young Guard politicians wanted to purge and purify it Danger on Capitol Young Guard NY senator William H. Seward was an abolitionist and opposed concession; Hill argued alarmingly that Christian legislators must obey Gods law as well as mans law, so an even higher law than the Constitution existed that prohibited slavery in the territories The debate seemed in danger of deadlock, with President Taylor, influenced by Higher Law men like Seward, opposing compromise and determined to prevent Texas from seizing Santa Fe Breaking the Congressional Logjam 1850 President Taylor suddenly died, and Milliard Fillmore took his place Fillmore wanted compromise, so signed several compromise measures that had passed Congress after seven months of debate Northerners, ex. Union Saver senators Clay, Webster, and Douglas who gave speeches to the effect, supported compromise, because had a growing spirit of goodwill because of relief and the influx of CA gold Southern fire eaters opposed compromise, and a movement was started to boycott manufactured goods from the North, and mid-1850 a convention of Southern extremists met at Nashville, TN, but the Southern Unionists ended up prevailing with the help of the glow of prosperity So a second Era of Good Feelings dawned in which peace-loving Northerners and Southerners were determined that the compromises should be a finality and that talk of slavery and secession should be buried The North got the better end of the Compromise of 1850: The addition of CA as a free state permanently tipped the balance of the Senate to the North Though the new territories of NM and Utah were open to slavery by popular sovereignty, the highest law had sided with free soil The South's gains were lacking: The disputed area in Texas was taken by the government to likely become free states, and Texas was only paid $10 million for it Though only slave trade was prohibited in Washington, D.C., it was still a move towards complete emancipation in the capital The drastic new Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 (AKA the Bloodhound Bill, the ManStealing Law): Runaway slaves could not testify for themselves, and were denied a jury trial The federal commissioner who handled fugitive slave cases would receive twice as much payment if the runaway was kept in slavery than if the runaway was freed; almost bribelike Those who aided runaway slaves faced heavy fines and jail sentences, and could even be forced to help the slave-catchers Effects: Many once-passive moderates became active abolitionists, ex. 1854 a captured runaway had to be escorted out of Boston

Balancing the Compromise Scales

The Underground Railroad increased its rate of helping runaways MA made it illegal for state officials to enforce it, and other states passed personal liberty laws that hampered its enforcement Awakened a spirit of antagonism in the North, while the South felt bitter because the North would not execute the one real, immediate gain of the South in the compromise Southern slave catchers increased their efforts, with some success The Compromise of 1850 won the Civil War for the North because: The North was getting further and further ahead of the South in population and wealth Caused the North to resist secession at any cost Defeat and Doom for the Whigs 1852 the Democrats after deadlock nominated black-horse NH lawyer Franklin Pierce as their presidential candidate, because was enemy-less because was a pro-South Northerner Platform was to finalize the Compromise of 1850 The Whigs, instead of choosing a leader of the Compromise of 1850, chose another military hero Old Fuss and Feathers Winfield Scott, but his haughty manner did not appeal to the masses Platform praised the Compromise of 1850 as a lasting arrangement, but not as strongly as the Democrats did The presidential campaign turned into an attack on personality, since slavery and sectionalism were played down The Whig party was split; Northern Whigs supported Scott but opposed the endorsement of the Fugitive Slave Law, while Southern Whigs supported the Fugitive Slave Law but opposed Scott Pierce won the election, partially because some Southern Whigs voted against their party The election of 1852 caused the decline and eventual death of the unorganized Whig party, foreshadowing the end of national parties and the rise of sectional parties The Whig partys greatest contribution was helping to uphold the ideal of the Union through quality orators, ex. Clay and Webster, and electoral strength in the South Pierces cabinet contained aggressive Southerners, ex. future president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, and Pierce was compliant with the Southerners determination to acquire more slave territory Interest aroused in trans-isthmian land routes and canals because of the addition of CA and the discovery of gold there Southerners especially wanted new territory because the Compromise of 1850 had closed most of the land from the Mexican Cession to slavery Interests in Nicaragua: July 1856 American adventurer William Walker, with the support of the South, installed himself president of Nicaragua and legalized slavery there, but a coalition of Central American nations formed to overthrow him, and President Pierce withdrew diplomatic recognition, so failed Britain wanted to get Nicaragua before America could secure trade routes there, so secured a foothold at Greytown, at the eastern end of a proposed canal, so violated the Monroe Doctrine and raised possibility of armed conflict, but resolved by 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty that said that America and Britain could not have exclusive control over any future isthmian waterway The beginnings of trade with the Far East: With the acquisition of CA and Oregon, America became a Pacific power and wanted to

President Pierce the Expansionist

trade with the Far East Contacts had already been established in China, but opening Japan was more difficult Japan had remained isolationist for over 200 years, but 1854 an American fleet under Commodore Matthew C. Perry persuaded Japan, also pressured by the Russian menace, to sign a treaty that put a commercial foot in the door Coveted Cuba: Pearl of the Antilles 1850s Manifest Destiny and the South mainly wanted Cuba, which was sugar-rich and had a large population of black slaves, because could restore the sectional balance Cuba being the last remnant of Spains once-vast New World empire, Spain refused to sell it at any price even when Polk offered $100 million for it, so the only way to get it would be to seize for it 1850 to 1851, two filibustering (from Spanish filibustero, pirate) expeditions attempted to seize Cuba, but both failed, and leaders of the second were executed 1854 Spain forced a conflict by seizing American steamer Black Warrior on a technicality; with the European powers unable to help Spain because were preoccupied with the Crimean War, President Pierce could have provoked a war with Spain and seized Cuba In secret, the American envoys to Spain, England, and France drew up the Ostend Manifesto that urged the US government to offer $120 million for Cuba and seize Cuba if Spain refused to sell But the Manifesto leaked, and the government had to drop its plans for acquiring Cuba because of Northern outrage Transportation to CA and Oregon, by sea to the Isthmus of Panama or around South America, or by covered wagon, was long, slow, and dangerous At first, camels were tried, but did not work; needed a transcontinental railroad All the projected transcontinental routes would be so expensive to build that there could only be one line that could terminate in either the North or the South; the South wanted because was falling economically behind the North The best route was found to run slightly south of the border, so 1853 James Gadsden negotiated the Gadsden Purchase with Santa Anna, who was in need of money, that bought the sliver of land for $10 million; was unpopular because the unit price was so high It was favorable for the South to get the end of the railroad, because the mountains were lower and the railroad would not have to pass through unorganized territory So Northerners, with the support of land-hungry pioneers, began pushing for organizing Nebraska

Pacific Railroad Promoters and the Gadsden Purchase

Douglas' Kansas- Senator Stephen A. Little Giant Douglas of IL invested heavily in Chicago real estate and Nebraska Scheme railway stock Douglas' plan: The proposed Territory of Nebraska would be split into Kansas and Nebraska The status of slavery in the two new territories would be determined by popular slavery, with Kansas likely to become slaveholding and Nebraska likely to become free But the 1820 Missouri Compromise forbade slavery above the 36 36' line, so Douglas would have to repeal it to enact his Kansas-Nebraska plan with popular sovereignty Southerners supported because was a chance to gain another slave state, and Pierce went with them Douglas pushed the Kansas-Nebraska Act through Congress despite free soilers' opposition Douglas underestimated the magnitude of the effect the repeal of the Missouri Compromise

would have on the North because did not feel very deeply on the issue of slavery; from then on, the North would strongly resist all Southern demands for slave territory Congress Legislates a Civil War The Kansas-Nebraska Act helped lead to the Civil War; the North from them on refused to make compromise with the South or enforce the Fugitive Slave Law at all After 1856, the Democratic Party would not gain the presidential office for another 28 years The new, completely sectional Republican Party started in the Middle West as a moral protest against slavery, grew to include disgruntled Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, and other opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and quickly became the second major political party