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Chapter 18 – Renewing the Sectional Struggle
1. What factors played in to Taylor’s victory in 1848?
The Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass had been very clear on his popular sovereignty standpoint, which
made northern abolitionists uncomfortable (territories might choose slavery); The Whigs nominated
Taylor and focused more on his homespun war hero reputation than his viewpoints on politics. The Free
Soil party didn’t trust either of these candidates and called for internal improvements and free
government homesteads for settlers and put former president Van Buren forward as their candidate; In
the end, Taylor’s war-time popularity allowed him to win.
2. Describe the significance of the Underground Railroad and how this contributes to the terms of the
Compromise of 1850.
The loss of runaway slaves was disagreeable to the south. The network of conductors and safe houses
allowed thousands of slaves a year to escape to Canada. In 1850, Southerners demanded a new and
more stringent fugitive-slave law (as part of the compromise); More than the loss of property, southern
slave owners resented the moral judgement of their northern neighbors.
3. What was the culminating compromise led by Clay, Calhoun, and Webster? How was it accomplished?
These men were able to persuade Congress that compromise was necessary. Clay persuaded both the
North and South to make concessions, and for the north to enact a more reasonable fugitive slave law.
Calhoun wanted to leave slavery alone, return runaway slaves, give the South its rights as a minority, and
restore the political balance. (Ultimately he wanted two presidents, each with a veto). Webster urged
concessions for the south and the creation of a fugitive slave law with teeth. He viewed slavery as evil,
but disunion as worse.
4. What role did Taylor play in the compromise of 1850? What were the final terms of the compromise?
How did each side respond?
Taylor died leaving the way clear for Fillmore to sign the compromise documents. California became a
free state (upsetting the balance in the Senate), Texas was denied the claims to land in New Mexico but
compensated with $10 million; the slave TRADE (though not slavery) was outlawed in DC; the Fugitive
Slave Law of 1850 said that fleeing slaves could not testify on their own behalf, and were denied a jury
trial. In addition, the federal commissioner who handled each case would get $5 if the runaway was
freed, and $10 if not (bribe); Northerners who helped the slaves were liable to fines and jail sentences.
There were extreme reactions on both sides of the issue.
5. What happened to the Whig Party?
The party was hopelessly split. Antislavery Whigs of the north wanted Scott as the nominee (even though
they didn’t like his platform which endorsed the Fugitive Slave Act), Southern Whigs accepted his platform,
but disliked the man…instead many of them voted for Webster even though he was already dead. The
disorganization of the party lead to its demise. The great Whig contribution was to help uphold the ideal of
the Union through electoral strength in the South and great leaders like Clay and Webster.
6. In what way did the outcry over the Ostend Manifesto foreshadow the significance that expansionism
would have on the coming of the Civil War?
Free-soilers in the North were already angry about the Fugitive Slave Law and other concessions in
place for the south, and they made such a fuss that the Pierce administration had to drop the plans for
Cuba. This led to increased tensions. Northerners wanted Canada for further expansion; Southerners
wanted Cuba and parts of Central America for further expansion. Each side did what they could to keep
the other from getting what they wanted. These actions and the increased tension between sections
foreshadow the ultimate divide that leads to the Civil War.
7. Why did Douglas propose the Kansas-Nebraska Act? What impact did it have?
He wanted to break the stalemate over westward expansion and create settlements all across the
continent. His personal interest was that he hoped the Pacific Railroad would have a stop in Chicago
where he had invested in real estate. The Northern states viewed Douglas as a traitor for attempting to
repeal the Missouri Compromise. The Southern states were very interested in his proposal. As both sides
watched the previous compromises dissolve or be repealed, each found that they couldn’t live with the
resulting plans. This leads to war.
Popular Sovereignty the principle that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by
the consent of its people, through their elected representatives (Rule by the People), who are the source of all
political power.
Underground Railroad a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved people of
African descent in the United States in efforts to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists
and allies who were sympathetic to their cause.
Daniel Webster an American statesman who twice served in the United States House of Representatives,
representing New Hampshire (1813–1817) and Massachusetts (1823–1827), served as a U.S. Senator from
Massachusetts (1827–1841 and 1845–1850) and was twice the United States Secretary of State, under
Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler (1841–1843) and Millard Fillmore (1850–185
Compromise of 1850 a series of resolutions on January 29, 1850, in an attempt to seek a compromise and
avert a crisis between North and South. As part of the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was
amended and the slave trade in Washington, D.C., was abolished.
Fugitive Slave Act a pair of federal laws that allowed for the capture and return of runaway
slaves within the territory of the United States. E
Central America in the context of the 1800s, a portion of North American that contained some lingering
European oversight, but which had experienced several revolutions. This area was attractive to the southern
states of the US because of Manifest Destiny aspirations.
Cuba large island in the Caribbean that captured the attention of the southern states as they sought to balance
the slave-free state ratio.
Ostend Manifesto a document written in 1854 that described the rationale for the United States to purchase
Cuba from Spain while implying that the U.S. should declare war if Spain refused.
Gadsden Purchase a 29,670-square-mile region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that the
United States purchased via a treaty signed on December 30, 1853 by James Gadsden, American ambassador to Mexico
at that time.
Transcontinental Railroad a 1,912-mile (3,077 km) contiguous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869
that connected the existing eastern U.S. rail network at Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa with the Pacific coast
at the Oakland Long Wharf on San Francisco Bay.
Kansas Nebraska Act allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves
whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. It also repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820.