On January 29, 1850, Henry Clay introducedseveral resolutions as a compromise to the rising conflict between the Northand South.1Clay’s resolutions were meant to address five issues, all of which needed to besettled.
These issues were centered around properties of land and what to dowith them. The crisis between the North and South seemed perilously close towar, and thus, Clay was determined to find a solution. Though Congress shutdown his resolutions, Daniel Webster, Senator from Massachusetts, and John C.Calhoun, senator from South Carolina, repackaged the deal into a series ofbills with the of a young Democrat from Illinois, Stephen Douglas.2Henry Clay of Kentucky was known asmany things, from “congressman, diplomat, secretary of state, U.S. senator, andfive times unsuccessful candidate for president.
“3He created a public image for himself over a period of forty years. His goalsince the; Missouri Compromise has always been to find compromise and unitybetween the opposing sides. He has put a huge amount of effort to stopdisunion. Known as the Great Compromiser, the Great Pacificator, he has beeninvolved in the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and again in 1830 when SouthCarolina did not follow a tariff law.
4He saw it as his duty years later that he must step in to find a compromise andsave this nation from the threat of disunion.In 1820, a huge acquisition of land,the Louisiana Purchase, was under disagreement on whether it should be a slavestate or not.5They ended up reaching an agreement through the Missouri Compromise, but it isnow 1850 and the disagreement is over the land won from the Mexican War. Inboth occasions, the South had threatened to secede from the Union. Unlike theMissouri Compromise, tensions were high, and the threat of disunion and civilwar is more than ever. To save the Union, Clay planned toaddress the following problems. First, there was California and its increase ofpopulation do to the gold fields.
California needed government and statehood byadmission into the Union, but the condition was as a free state. Then therewere a couple of issues regarding territory. The first problem was that theland taken from Mexico, the New Mexico and Utah territories, needed to be dealtwith.
The decision had to be made on whether slavery be allowed when it becameready to join the Union. The other territorial issue was with Texas. Texasacquired statehood in 1845, and since then has claimed four counties in the NewMexico territory as their own. This was a very dangerous dispute and needed tobe resolved as soon as possible. The other two issues that Clayaddresses in his resolutions regarded slavery. In the District of Columbia,there was slavery and a major slave trade.
6Slavery was extremely disputed as the North wanted the slavery and slave tradeto end and the South believed that the end would be a hit to their cause. Thefinal issue might have been had the most controversy. There is a law that saysthat fugitive slaves that have escaped to the North must be returned to theirmasters. The South, made up of slave owners, wanted this law to be enforced.The North, anti-slavery, were not heeding this law one bit. They ran theUnderground Railroad and did not honor the law, in fact breaking at everyopportunity.Clay produced a compilation of billsthat he believed would help find middle ground between the conflicting Northand South. He addresses the points separately and effectively.
His first billwould simply allow California to admit themselves as a free state.7This way, California can make its government and rule without slavery. Thefollowing bill addresses the issue of the Texas border claim. The bill saysthat the Texas would have to renounce their hold on the New Mexico territory.In compensation, the Texas state debt would be paid off by the federal governmentwith around 10 million dollars.8The bill regarding the land/territories taken from Mexico stated that “theywould be organized without any restrictions as to slavery.
” They would essentiallyleave the decision to them, in which they ended up not having slavery. The final two bills regarded the twoimportant slave issues, the slavery in the District of Columbia and theFugitive Slave Law. The bill concluded that slavery would continue to beallowed in the District of Columbia, but to appease the North, the slave trade wouldbe discontinued.
As to the Fugitive Slave Law, it would continue and be “tightenedand reinforced.” These five bills were the attemptedcompromise to the conflict of 1850. The question stands on whether this compromiseworks and solves the conflict or not. Clay’s resolutions were immediately shutdown by three large oppositions. There was a lot of disagreement from both theNorth and the South, both believing it was in the other’s favor. The South didnot like the fact that slave trade in D.
C. would not be continued. The North opposedthe Fugitive Slave Trade and would not reinforce it. The third opposition was thePresident, Zachary Taylor, at the time. He did not agree with Clay’s compromisecompletely, his own plan just solving two out of the five. He agreed thatCalifornia must become a state and that the other territories must be dealtwith as soon as possible, but left out what to do with Texas, slavery in D.
C.,and the Fugitive Slave Act. Due to all this, Clay’s resolutions were far frombeing accepted yet. At the time, there were three of themost influential people, known as “the great triumvirate.” The triumvirate wasmade up of Henry Clay, John C.
Calhoun, and Daniel Webster.9Calhoun was one of the strongest supporters of the South, defending theirposition for slavery and thus, disagreeing with Clay’s compromise. Near his death,Calhoun had made a speech which he could not read himself as he was too sickwith tuberculosis. In this speech, he defends the South’s position against the compromise,stating that any “right to slavery” given up would lead to the loss of alltheir rights.
His speech rallied the South and angered the North, but his deathcame soon after on the last day of March 1850.10It was a stalemate between the sidesand neither wanted to concede, so Clay knew he needed to tip the scale. Thethird member of the triumvirate was none other than Daniel Webster.
Though theyhad been rivals for the presidency, they both had strong love for the Union andClay believed he could gather Webster upon that.1 *GeneralPrimary Documents*2PBS *Make CITATION*3 4Essentialcivilwar5Let.rug.nl6Senate.gov7 8 9 10