US History. How would you characterize the positions of the North at the time leading up to the Compromise of 1850?

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BSGE                                                                                Zakir Hussain        

11-2                                                                                3/17/12

How would you characterize the positions of the North at the time leading up to the Compromise of 1850?

During the antebellum period the North and the South lived two very distinct ways of life.  The citizens of the South were mostly slave owners and controlled commerce such as textiles because they had slaves to do their labor.  Since the South had financial prosperity in the early 1800s, their power in the government was stronger than that of the North.  The North wasn’t fond of this and needed ways to stimulate their economy.  Northerners claimed that British goods that were flooding into the US were hurting North’s businesses and demanded that protective tariffs be implemented to protect their economy and way of life (Jordan 243). One of the earliest indications of sectional tension became evident in 1819 when Missouri applied for admission to the Union.  The North didn’t want Missouri entering the Union as a slave state, seeing that it would give the South/slave states greater power in Congress.  The Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820 stating Maine would enter as a free state and Missouri as a slave state (Jordan 247).  The 36°30` dividing line was settled as the boundary of southern slavery extension. Although the compromise settled slavery in federal territories for a generation it was apparent that the issue would arise again.  The dilemma did occur again when California applied for statehood due to the Gold Rush of 1849 (Jordan 326).  The same situation occurred in Utah when Utah had enough people to join the Union.  Neither the South nor the North wanted the territories to become like the other.  A compromise was necessary.  No side would back down and it seemed if a compromise was not met, there would either be a southern secession or a civil war.  (Jordan 326).  The compromise of 1850, or the Great Compromise, was adopted in which Stephen Douglas took Henry Clay’s compromise and broke it up into individual bills to be voted on separately (Jordan 328).  One of the major matters that the South yearned to be imposed from the Great Compromise was the Fugitive Slave Act.  This was an act that “denied jury trials to accused runaway slaves and empowered any marshal pursuing the slaves to force local citizens to join the hunt” (Levine 393). Even more offensive to the North was Clay’s proposition to toughen the Fugitive Slave Act by convincing the people in the North to aid in the extradition and incarceration of runaway slaves.  However to understand the Great Compromise of 1850, one must look at the North’s viewpoints beforehand. The position of the North at the time leading up to the Compromise of 1850 could be divided into several categories.  These include unionists, abolitionists, and free-soilers.

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        Some Northerners didn’t want the South to secede and wanted to maintain the United States as a whole; they were considered Unionists.  One unionist was a senator named Daniel Webster.  He made a speech during the debate in the Senate concerning the Compromise of 1850 (Speech of Daniel Webster). His point of view and reason behind his speech was to preserve the Union. Daniel Webster believed that if the South were to secede United States would make no sense and it would be impossible to draw a borderline. The senator also emphasized that the democratic system the United States was ...

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