Explain the provisions of the Compromise of 1850.  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unpopular in both the North and the South, the Compromise of 1850 nevertheless put off secession and civil war for nearly a decade. The compromise, headed by Senators Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas, consisted of five bills that gave the South the possibility of added slave states in the southwest, but provided no new possibilities of slavery in other territories.

  • Texas would remain a slave state, but it was forced to give up part of its land gained when it became an independent republic following its war with Mexico.
  • The former Texas lands would become the territories of New Mexico (consisting of parts of present-day New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada); and Utah (consisting of parts of present-day Utah, New Mexico and Colorado). These territories would decide independently whether to accept slavery.
  • California would become a free state (much to the dismay of the South).
  • Slavery was banned in Washington, D. C. 
  • The Fugitive Slave Law was also instituted, making it mandatory for officials to actively seek to return any escaped slave--whether in free or slave states--to their proper owner. This was highly unpopular in the North.

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