• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Politics and Sectionalism in the 1850s

Extracts from this document...


Politics and Sectionalism in the 1850s Word count: 1111 The early years of the nineteenth century saw a rise in sectional crises as northern and southern citizens first recognised their differences and then used the grey areas of federalism to pursue their own interests; the Civil War began in 1861, but the political crisis that set the stage for the conflict unfolded in 1850. National expansion and the rise of militant abolitionism made it increasingly difficult to exclude slavery from national attention. The dispute that led to the Compromise of 1850 was at its root a crisis of republicanism, the ideological tradition that grew out of the movement for American independence. Both sections used their own version of republicanism to make sense of the crises of the late 1840s; despite masterful diplomacy, the agreement of 1850 failed to resolve the conflict between them. The compromise of 1850, a series of legislative bargains over the western territories and slavery, was a sheer demonstration that American political leaders could still defuse sectional tensions. ...read more.


Senate a compromise. Congressional moderates hoped Henry Clay's Compromise Initiative would settle the slavery debacle once and for all and restore sectional harmony. Clay's compromise plan met with the approval of most moderates and unionists and the condemnation of ultras from both sections. Clay's Compromise proposed: 1. Admitting California as a free state. 2. Organising the Mexican Cession Territory without any restriction as to slavery (the Utah and New Mexico territories). 3. Denying the Texas claim to extend its boundary to where the Rio Grande River begins. 4. Compensating Texas for #3 (above) by having the federal government assume the $10,000,000 Texas state debt. 5. Ending the practice of requiring all traded/sold slaves to pass through the District of Columbia but, 6. Keeping slavery legal in D.C even though it is not a state. 7. Rewriting the Fugitive Slave Act, placing it under the jurisdiction of Federal U.S. Marshals. 8. Denying Congress any future authority to regulate slavery (no more Missouri Compromise-type 36�30' provisions). By implicitly endorsing the Wilmot Proviso of 1846 (See Appendix 2) ...read more.


To abolitionists, the Fugitive Act reeked of subservience to the Slave Power. Northerners found this feature of the Compromise particularly reprehensible, since it directly challenged their republican notions of free labour and personal independence. Although popular sovereignty proved volatile in the coming years, The Fugitive Slave Act embodied the conflict of republicanism at the epicenter of the territorial dispute. It was also symbolic of what Clay's Compromise had become: a set of mutual assurances that could never be fulfilled. Northerners of an abolitionist or anti-southern persuasion found the Act repugnant. Slavery, it would seem, would reach into the social and political life of the North, a region that had grown used to its self-image of Puritan righteousness. Scheming Southern Politicians had insinuated slavery just above the Mason-Dixon line. Theoretically, a compromise presupposes an agreement by two parties upon mutual concessions involving a sacrifice of vital interests by both sides. Is Compromise an accurate description of the legislative accomplishments of 1850? Political elites formed broad coalitions that suppressed ideological inflexibility and delayed sectional conflict. The territorial debacles represented the final, desperate attempt by Unionists from both sections to suppress the issue of slavery. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United States section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United States essays

  1. Westward Expansion and Slavery

    Yet with the compromise of 1850 the issue regarding land and territories was settled, but only for a short period of time. Congress allowed California as a free state, prohibited the slave trade in Washington D.C, and allowed slavery in New Mexico and Utah.

  2. The 1820 Missouri Compromise.

    Thomas Jefferson, living in retirement at Monticello, later wrote to John Holmes of Massachusetts: "this momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union."

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work