THE COMPROMISE OF 1850
To win California as slave territory the Southern leaders had forced the war on Mexico. The territory was won, and no political force had developed strong enough to halt their progress. But now came a check from the realm which could not be cajoled or brow-beaten,--the world of natural and industrial forces. Gold was discovered in California. There was a rush of immigrants, and a swift opening and settlement of the country. The pioneers--hardy, enterprising and democratic--had no use nor room for slaves. They held a convention, with the encouragement of President Taylor; framed a Constitution in which slavery was excluded from the future State--this by unanimous vote, including the 15 delegates who had come from slave States; and the popular vote ratified the proposed Constitution by 10 to 1. Then they asked for admission to the Union.
The Southern faction was wrathful. The extremists were for excluding the new State unless slavery was permitted. But it was clear that slavery could not be forced on a State against the wish of its entire people. Then compensation was sought in concessions to be made by the North. The remainder of the new domain, Utah and New Mexico, was not ripe for Statehood; but let slavery, it was urged, be established as a territorial condition. Then came up another grievance of the South. Its fugitive slaves, escaping over the border line, were systematically helped, either to make their way to Canada and the protection of the British flag, or to safe homes in the Northern States. Naturally the slaves