Slavery Quarrel

The main trouble at home during President Fillmore’s rule was the old quarrel between the slavery and antislavery parties. For a time it had slumbered, but the fact that California wished to join the Union as a free state, started it up again with new fury. Men got excited over it, and the Capitol rang with the speeches of Calhoun, Clay, Seward, and Webster. The quarrel raged until Clay, the “peacemaker,” finally suggested the bills forming what is known as the “Compromise of 1850.”

Each party again gave up something to please the other, deciding that California should be a free state, but that Utah and New Mexico should form territories where slavery would be allowed or forbidden, just as the people settling there wished. Besides, to satisfy the Texans, who said that part of New Mexico belonged to them, ten million dollars was given in exchange for it. Clay’s bill for settling all these questions was called the “Omnibus Bill.”

The Compromise of 1850 also decided that slaves should no longer be bought and sold in the District of Columbia, although members of Congress and others might still keep their slave servants.