Westward Extension, 1841-1850

By George Pierce Garrison | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 (1849-1850)

S OME aspects of the unfinished work of the Polk administration demanded prompt attention. In default of congressional action, slavery and the slave-trade might still exist in the District of Columbia, as they had existed from its earliest settlement; fugitive slaves might continue to be withheld from their owners as they had been in the past; and the broad waste along the border of Texas and New Mexico might yet remain a sufficient boundary; but some provision must be made for the government of the territories acquired by the war. The discovery of gold in California had carried thither a population that could not remain politically unorganized, nor could the status of New Mexico be allowed to go unchanged without grave inconvenience and peril. Something must be done, and that quickly.

During the interval between the final adjournment of the thirtieth Congress and the assembling of the thirty-first the case of California took on a very different aspect. President Taylor sent

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