By 1850, the United States had vastly expanded: Texas hadbeen admitted, the Mexican session had been acquired, around one and a halfmillion Irishmen had immigrated to the northern United states in the wake ofthe potato famine, and the California Gold Rush was in full swing. However, it wasstill unclear whether slavery should expand with the United States. As the UnitedStates grew, so did the moral dilemma of slavery along with Southern-Northerntensions. This tension between the different sections of the United States wascalled the Sectional Crisis. California,rich with the promise of gold, was seeking admission into the union as a freestate, which would tip the balance between the number of slave and free states.Southern leaders like John C. Calhoun, a senator from South Carolina, werethreatening secession if California entered the union as a free state.
TheUnited states needed compromise between the sections or else civil war would beimminent. However, the then President of the United states, Zachary Tayler, aWhig from Louisiana, opposed to any compromise over California admission, whichmade the crises even more dangerous. Zachary Tayler,died in July of 1850, and his Vice President, Millard Fillmore, who also aWhig, became president. Unlike Tayler, Fillmore was willing to sign any reasonablecompromise. In 1850, a compromise had to be shaped by the senate, where there werethirty slave, and thirty free state senators. The senate turned to Henry Clay forhe was known for creating successful compromises. Clay put all the elements ofa compromise together in a single bill called the Omnibus Bill.
The elements of the Omnibus Bill wereas follows: California would enter the union as a free state, The Utah andMexico territories, including Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexicoremain open to slavery on the basis of popular sovereignty, the Texas-New Mexicoborder dispute was to be settled in New Mexico’s favor, the United States wereto agree to pay Texas’ national debt, the slave trade, but not slavery, was tobe abolished in Washington D.C. which was called cosmetics, a tough and enforceablefugitive slave law was passed requiring the free states to apprehend and returnescaped slaves, outraging many in the north and forcing them to think aboutslavery, and Congress was to declare that it would never outlaw the interstatesale of slaves.However, Clay needed thirty-onevotes in the senate to pass his bill, but since the compromises were so great, hecould not get them. The senate then turned to two younger senators, Stephen A. Douglas– democrat from Illinois, and Daniel Webster, a Whig from Massachusetts. However,Douglas and Webster, no matter how hard they tried, could not get enough votesin the senate to pass the bill either. They then decided to try a differenttactic: take the bill apart and pass each element of it separately.
Thiseventually worked, and the compromise helped avoid southern secession and civilwar for another 10 years.