Wilmot Proviso (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The 1846 Wilmot Proviso was a bold attempt by opponents of slavery to prevent its introduction in the territories purchased from Mexico following the Mexican War. Named after its sponsor, Democratic representative DAVID WILMOT of Pennsylvania, the proviso never passed both houses of Congress, but it did ignite an intense national debate over slavery that led to the creation of the antislavery REPUBLICAN PARTY in 1854.
The Mexican War of 1845846 was fueled, in part, by the desire of the United States to annex Texas. President JAMES POLK asked Congress in August 1846 for $2 million to help him negotiate peace and settle the boundary with Mexico. Polk sought the acquisition of Texas and other Mexican territories. Wilmot quickly offered his proposal, known as the Wilmot Proviso, which he attached to President Polk's funding measure. The proviso would have prohibited slavery in the new territories acquired from Mexico, including California.
The proviso injected the controversial slavery issue into the funding debate, but the House approved the bill and sent it to the Senate for action. The Senate, however, adjourned before discussing the issue.
When the next Congress convened, a new appropriations bill for $3 million was presented, but the Wilmot Proviso was again attached to the measure. The House passed the bill and the Senate was forced to consider the...
(The entire section is 451 words.)
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