Expansion in the 1840’s to 1850’s
EXPANSION IN THE 1840’S AND 1850’S 1. As our nation expanded from 1845-1860 political leaders could not solve, evade or escape the question as to whether or not to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories. MANIFEST DESTINY- had overtaken American justification for expansion- The US had the right and the obligation to expand to the Pacific. 1846- Americans fought an 18 month war against Mexico that resulted in the acquisition of more than half of Mexico— one third of the current US. — 2. JOHN C.
CALHOUN- FROM SOUTH CAROLINA Calhoun had been vice president under John Quincy Adams in 1825 and Andrew Jackson in 1829. He split with Jackson and did not become his VP in 1833. The split was over THE TARIFF OF ABOMINATIONS”- a tariff passed in 1828, as Adams was leaving office, that levied very high protective tariffs on imports for the sole purpose of protecting American manufactures. It made foreign goods too expensive for the South to buy. THIS WOULD LEAD TO EUROPE BUYING LESS OF THE SOUTH’S AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS IN RETURN.
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At the time of the War of 1812 until 1828 Calhoun was a strong NATIONALIST. But as he saw more and more how the South was being treated he made a complete turn and became a FANATICAL REGIONALIST. As VP, after the Tariff of 1828 he wrote a pamphlet in which he called for nullification of the tariff by Southern states on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. This Theory of Nullification was first issued by Thomas Jefferson over the debates on the Const. and the role of the Federal vs. State Governments. Jefferson and Madison had tried to put the theory into effect with the
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in 1798, in which they declared that the Alien and Sedition Acts (forced in by Adams) violated the Bill of Rights- EXPLAIN THE ACTS and were unconstitutional and could be nullified by any state that chose to. Calhoun had little support for nullification. Jackson promised tariff relief. But the Tariff of 1832 provided little reform. Calhoun resigned as VP in 1832 and was elected to the Senate from S. Carolina. S. Carolina called a special convention that on Nov. 24,1832 passed the Ordinance of Nullification forbidding tariff collection in the State.
When Calhoun’s nullification theory was presented to the Senate it was argued that NOT ONLY COULD A STATE NULLIFY AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW BUT THAT IT COULD ALSO, AS A LAST RESORT, SECEDE FROM THE UNION. —–1832……. Daniel Webster, a Senator from Mass. , defended the powers of the federal government and said: “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable. ” Nullification now divided the nation over the issue of STATES RIGHTS- the will of a state vs the law of the nation. WHAT CALHOUN WAS REALLY FIGHTING FOR WAS PROTECTION OF SLAVERY WHICH THEY FEARED COULD BE ABOLISHED BY A NORTHERN CONGRESS.
That is why as early as 1832 it was important to Calhoun and his supporters to try to have the doctrine of States Rights override the National will- Calhoun saw the will of the nation being controlled by the Northern industrialists. THIS IS PROOF THAT TO THE SOUTH THE ISSUE OF SLAVERY WAS BOTH ECONOMIC AND CONSTITUTIONAL. Jackson, on Dec. 19,1832, declared the Tariff to be constitutional and denied the right of a state to block federal law. He threatened armed intervention to collect tariffs. Congress passed THE FORCE ACT- empowering the president to use force to collect tariffs.
The South nullified the Force Act, but compromise was soon reached with a new tariff. BUT- THE ISSUE OF STATES RIGHTS WOULD NOT GO AWAY. The Mexican war- Northern Democrats were willing to annex Texas, a Southern state, since they expected Southern support for Oregon. The 1844 Democratic platform included a pledge to control the whole area of Oregon- US and Britain jointly occupied the area from the 42 parallel to 54,40. The area spread from the present day northern borders of California and Nevada to the Southern border of Russian Alaska. From 1818 there was joint occupation.
More Americans were pouring into the area and they wanted to become part of the US. 1845 Polk recommended termination of the joint occupation and our taking control of the entire area. The question would whether the Southern (Tenn. ) president and his Southern colleagues would support free territory in Oregon as strongly as they supported slave territory in Texas. The answer was NO- Polk was willing to go to war with Spain for Texas, AND ALL THE OTHER LAND, but not with England over Oregon. So a compromise was reached with Britain at the 49th parallel. 2 Northern Democratic Senators voted against it, and only the unanimous support of the Whigs pushed it through. Northern democrats claimed: ”Texas and Oregon were born in the same instant, nursed and cradlers in the same cradle, but having used Northern votes to get Texas, the peculiar friends of Texas turned and were doing all they could to strangle Oregon. ” Northern Abolitionists saw the Mexican War as a means to expand slavery. In 1847 the Mass. legislature resolved that “this unconstitutional war was being waged for the triple object of expanding slavery, of strengthening the slave power, and of obtaining control of the free states. 3. Westward expansion would revive the issue of extension of slavery into the territories. Many white racists had already agreed that the Blacks could never be their intellectual, social, political or economic equals. Most white Northerners opposed allowing slaves to be brought into territories acquired from Mexico. They feared that the spread of slavery into the west would LIMIT THEIR OPPORTUNITY TO SETTLE AND FARM ON THAT LAND. NORTHERNERS OPPOSED SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES BOTH AS A LABOR SYSTEM AND THE BLACK ENSLAVED PEOPLE.
By this time northern black and white people embraced the concept of the free labor system- free men and women working to earn a living and improve their lives. If the slave owners gained a foothold for their UNFREE labor system in the West then the future of the free labor system would be restricted or destroyed. 3. THE WILMOST PROVISO- During the Mexican War in 1846, Democratic congressman David Wilmot, introduced a bill into Congress to prohibit slavery in any territory we would get from Mexico. He felt that blacks would TAINT the territory and that the land should be reserved only for the white race. The Negro race already occupy enough of this fair continent…I would preserve for free white labor a fair country…where the sons of toil, of my own race and own color, can live without the disgrace which association with Negro slavery brings upon free labor. ” The Proviso was never passed into law, but white Southerner’s were engaged at this attempt to stop them from enjoying the fruits of the war by settling into the new lands. THE SOUTH SAW ANY ATTEMPT TO LIMIT THE GROWTH AS SLAVERY AS THE FIRST STEP TO ELIMINATING IT. John C. Calhoun countered with his own proposal:
All territories to be regarded as common property of the states. Congress would act an agent for the states and make no laws discriminating between the states or depriving and state rights with regard to property. Any national law passed regarding slavery would violate the Const. and the doctrine of states rights. People have the Const. right to form their state governments as they wish, as long as they provide a republican form of government. The Wilmot Proviso was voted on in 1846 and the votes were strictly on section lines, causing the parties to begin to split.
It passed the House but failed to come to a vote in the Senate. At the next session in Feb. ,1847, it was re passed by the House but died in the Senate. THE PROVISO STARTED A RIFT WITHIN THE PARTIES BASED ON SECTIONAL TIES. Every Northern state legislature, except one, had supported the Proviso. Every Southern state legislature opposed it. President Polk backed a compromise that would have extended the Missouri Compromise line across the Mexican cession. Many northerners backed this since they felt climate and topography would keep slavery out of most of the area naturally.
BUT MANY SOUTHERNERS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT SETTING A PRECIDENT FOR FUTURE TERRITORY AND DID NOT WANT TO AGREE TO RESTRICTING SLAVERY IN ANY AREA. To prevent the spread of slavery into these areas the FREE SOIL party was formed in 1848- composed only of whites whom VIGOROUSLY OPPOSED THE EXPANSION OF SLAVERY. They feared a desecration of the land if the blacks were allowed to settle there. The Free Soil Party was hostile to the blacks and opposed emancipation. BUT it did get support from some ABOLITIONISTS who saw it as a way to stop the spread of slavery and challenge its existence. 848 the Free Soil Party ran former Pres. Martin Van Buren, who came in a distant third behind the Whig- Mexican War hero Zachary Taylor, and the Democrat- Lewis Cass. BUT 10 Free Soil Congressmen were elected. 4. The land settlement after the Mexican War and the opening of the Southwest upset the balance between slave and free states in the nation. Sept 17,1847 the Mexicans surrendered. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ratified by the Senate on March 10,1848, ceded to the US present day California and New Mexico and parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado.
Also the southern border of Texas was set as the Rio Grande. This added over 1 million square mile to the US, added another one-third of our territorial domain, and brought us out to the Pacific. The war introduced us to some future military giants such as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. ELECTION OF 1848- Democratic Party split- The ”Barnburners” (supported by Van Buren and New York) supported the Wilmot Proviso. The “Hunkers” were willing to compromise with the South and nominated Cass. This led to the Free Soil Party and a major split within the Democratic Party.
The Whigs passed over Henry Clay and Daniel Webster and nominated war hero Taylor. Taylor was a Southern slaveholder, but Northern Whigs supported him. They stuck together long enough to get him elected. 5. CALIFORNIA- GOLD- Jan 24,1848, gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. By 1849 the Gold Rush was on. People were flocking to the area seeking their fortunes. Most men did not strike it rich BUT the Gold Rush lasted for 12 years and exploded the population of the area. By 1850 the population of Calif. reached 100,000. The residents applied for admission as a FREE STATE.
This would make California the 31st state and offset the balance in the Senate between North and South. The South would not agree to this arrangement. Henry Clay was called upon to make another Compromise. He attempted to write a document that would resolve the issue of slavery for all time. California would be admitted as a free state. The slave trade (not slavery) would be eliminated in DC. A stronger Fugitive Slave Law would be passed to make it easier for slave owners to get run away slaves back. New Mexico and Utah would be organized as territories, with no mention of slavery.
The Compromise did not pass- Calhoun would not tolerate the admission of California without slavery, Northerners would not agree to stronger Fugitive Slave Laws, and President Taylor shocked his fellow Southerners by insisting that California be admitted as a free state with NO COMPROMISE. Taylor threatened to veto the Compromise if the House and Senate passed it. Summer of 1850 Taylor died and Millard Fillmore became President. He wanted to compromise. Senator Stephen Douglas from Ill. guided the Compromise of 1850 through Congress by actually making it two separate bills. One brought in Calif. s a free state and the other gave a stronger fugitive slave code. MANY STATES RIGHTS SUPPORTERS SAW THE SLAVE/FREE BALANCE IN CONGESS SHIFTING FURTHER NORTHWARD. 6. THE ELECTION OF 1852- The “Barnburners” returned to the party and the Democrats nominated little known Franklin Pierce from New Hampshire- leaving the Wilmot Proviso behind them. The Whigs split totally in 1852— The Northern faction supported Winfield Scott, the Southern faction supported Millard Fillmore as a compromise candidate. There was a deadlock after 52 ballots- 96% of Scott’s votes were from free states and 85% of Fillmore’s from slave states.
On the 53rd ballot Scott won the nomination. The Free Soilers nominated John P. Hale opposing the Compromise of 1850 and the extension of slavery. The Whigs had split to the point that the party was declared dead by its leaders. In 1853 the Democrats controlled every Southern State and the Whigs elected only 14 of the 65 congressmen from those states. The intersection two party system was on the verge of death. 7. FUGITIVE SLAVE LAWS- The Fugitive Slave Law created resentment among the Abolitionists and made slavery more emotional and personal to many.
Actually the Constitution in Article IV, Section 2 stated that “any person held in service or labor in one state” who ran away to another state “shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor shall be due. ” The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 permitted slaves owners to recover slaves who escaped to other states. The escaped slaves had no rights- no right to a trial, no right to testify, and no guarantee of habeas corpus (the legal requirement that a person be brought before a court and not be imprisoned illegally).
But by the 1830’ and 1840’s thousand of slaves were escaping and were being aided by the Underground Railroad. White Southerners found the laws too weak to overcome the resistance of the North to return the slaves. Many northern abolitionists actually aided the blacks escape and hid them if the law was known to be coming. Several Northern states had personal liberty laws that made it illegal for state law enforcement officials to help capture runaways. This was passed too. A US Supreme Court decision in 1842- Pigg v Pennsylvania- involved a slave owner who forcibly carried his runaway slave back home to Maryland from Penn.
He was convicted in Penn. on a kidnapping charge… The Supreme Court overturned the ruling and called the Penn. Law Unconstitutional. THE COURT ALSO RULED THAT THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION WAS A FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY. This caused many states to start passing the personal liberty laws and provoked the South to ask for stricter control. Local black vigilante committees were formed including the League of Freedom in Boston and the Liberty Association in Chicago. These actions made the South ask for harsher laws.
The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was one of the harshest measures EVER passed by the US Congress. Required US marshals, deputies, and ordinary citizens to help seize runaway slaves. Those who refused or helped the runaways could be fined or imprisoned. Slave owners only had to provide legal documentation from their home state OR the testimony of white witnesses before a federal commissioner that the captive was a runaway. It was nearly impossible for a black to prove that they were legally free. Federal commissioners were paid $10 for captives returned to bondage, but only $5. f they were found to be legally free. The commissioner could deputize any citizen to aid in the capture of the runaways, and stiff fines were imposed for those that did not help. Many Northerners vowed CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. During the time the law was in effect 332 captives were returned to slavery and 11 were released as free people. FUGITIVE SLAVES- Southern laws stipulated that the status of the mother determined a child’s legal status- free or slave. Some states abided by the new Law without question. Others did not. A Maryland slave owner tried to regain a black woman in Phila.
Who he claimed had escaped 22 years before. Since then she had 6 children, and he said they all belonged to him. Case went before a federal commissioner who ruled that they were all free. SHADRACH- 1851- Federal marshals captured a black fugitive in Boston names Shadrach. A group of blacks stormed the courthouse and freed the slave and got him to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Federal authorities brought charges against 4 blacks and 4 whites that helped in the escape under the Fugitive Slave Act. LOCAL JURIES REFUSED TO CONVICT THEM. Sept 1851 – Christiana, Pennsylvania was the scene of a little battle.
Three deputy marshals appeared with a family of slave owners to recover 2 runaways from Maryland. A hostile crowd of about 25 blacks and several whites met them. One slave owner was killed and several from both sides were wounded. The runaways escaped to Canada. President Fillmore sent US Marines to Penna. to round up the members of the insurrection. 36 blacks and 5 whites were arrested and indicted for treason by a federal grand jury. The government’s case was weak, and after an acquittal in the first case, the remaining cases were dropped.
ANTHONY BURNS- 1854 Burns escaped from Virginia by stowing away on a ship and landed in Boston. Burns sent his enslaved brother a letter, which was intercepted and Burns was captured. Marshals put him under guard in chains in the federal courthouse. Abolitionists tried to break in but could not, even though a deputy marshal was killed. President Franklin Pierce, a northern Democrat, sent federal troops to Boston to return Burns to Virginia. The vigilance committee tried to buy Burn’s freedom but the US Attorney refused. June 1854 thousands of Bostonians lined the street on the way to the ship that Burns was being marched to.
Church bells rang, buildings and on lookers were draped in black. William Lloyd Garrison held a ceremony on July 4 in which he burned a copy of the Declaration of Independence as many looked on. A federal grand jury indicted 7 men for inciting a riot to free Burns, but no Boston jury would convict and of the men. MARGARET GARNER- Winter of 1856 Margaret Garner and 7 other slaves escaped from Kentucky across the Ohio River into Cincinnati. Their owner, Archibald Grimes pursued them along with a deputy and a posse. They cornered the eight in a small house, but they fought back Finally they were subdued.
Before they could be captured Garner slit her daughter’s throat rather than have her go back to slavery. She tired to kill her two sons but was disarmed. Ohio authorities charged her with murder. By then she had returned to Kentucky and was sent with her three surviving children to Arkansas to be sold. On the journey her youngest child and 24 others drowned in a shipwreck. She was later sold at a slave market in New Orleans. Toni Morrison transformed her story into the book BELOVED. 8. THE ROCHESTER CONVENTION- 1853 – Black leaders met in Rochester, NY in 1853 for a national convention.
They warned that black Americans were not ready to concede to the government policy that put more emphasis on the interest of slaveholders than people seeking freedom. They called for greater unity among the blacks and a means to find ways to improve their economic prospects. They asserted their claims to the rights of citizenship and equal protection before the law. They also expressed fear that the new wave of European immigrants would deprive poor black Northerners of their jobs. FOR THE FIRST TIME BLACK LEADERS, INCLUDING FREDERICK DOUGLASS SPOKE OF THE NEED FOR A SCHOOL TO PROVIDE TRAINING IN SKILLED TRADES AND MANUAL ARTS.
They even spoke of founding a Negro museum and library. NATIVISM- White Protestants picked up the fear of more Immigrants as well, with a major movement beginning against Roman Catholics from Ireland and Germany. Some feared there was a Catholic conspiracy to take over the nation. Led to the formation of the KNOW NOTHINGS in 1854- to protect traditional American values from the dangers of immigration- The names comes from the reply members were instructed to give when asked about the party- “I KNOW NOTHING…”
By 1856 there were over 1 million members in the Party, mainly in New England, Kentucky and Texas. UNCLE TOM’S CABIN- Written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852- originally published in installments in an anti-slavery newspaper. Stowe was raised in a religious environment and developed a hatred of slavery. In the novel she depicts the cruelty, inhumanity and destructive impact on families by slavery. It moved Northerners to tears and made slavery more personal to readers who never considered it as a way of life.
White Southerners called it a false depiction of slavery. But Stowe later published A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in which she cited the sources for her novel, many of which were southern newspapers. ABLEMAN V BOOTH-1859- The personal liberty laws continued to violate federal laws. This case arose when a Wisconsin abolitionist named Sherman Booth was convicted by a federal court and sent to prison for leading a raid in 1854 that had freed a fugitive. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled the Fugitive Slave Law as unconstitutional and ordered Booth’s release.
Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that the Fugitive Slave law was constitutional AND ANY STATE INTERFERING WITH ITS ENFORCEMENT WAS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Booth went back to prison. THE SUPREMACY OF FEDERAL LAW WAS UPHELD- This case was a complete REVERSAL of the traditional values of the North favoring federal supremacy and the South pushing for states rights. 9. OTHER ATTEMPTS- While many states had been passing personal liberty laws in the 1850’s, some were adopting harsher ‘black laws’ to restrict free blacks—mainly the lower Northern states and the West.
Indiana adopted a provision in its 1851 Constitution that prohibited the migration of free blacks into the state. Blacks could not vote there, nor serve on juries or in the army, nor testify against whites, nor marry whites, nor go to school with whites. Iowa and Illinois had similar laws and also banned black immigration in 1851 and 1853. When Oregon was admitted to the union in 1859 she adopted a whole range of black laws, even though black migration to that state was remote. California, 10 years earlier, had not banned black migration since she feared it would delay the process of statehood, but Calif. id adopt a large range of discriminatory laws. SO, EVEN IN THE FREE STATES, THERE WAS AN ANTI-BLACK SENTIMENT. Only New England states, except Connecticut, had allowed blacks to vote equally with the whites prior to the Civil War. Attempts to institute this in other northern states FAILED in the 1850’s. Racism was so strong in the North that no party could win if it endorsed full racial equality. REMEMBER— Abolitionists and Free Soilers could hate slavery and have sympathy for fugitive slaves, BUT they could also be very prejudiced and have a commitment to RACISM.
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