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Another Compromise on Slavery

With California demanding to join the Union as a free state, a new slavery compromise is needed to keep the Southern states from seceding from the Union. After the Mexican-American War the USA acquired new territories. If the Missouri Compromise was to be followed then California and Texas should be split into North and South since they both straddle the parallel line of 36 degrees 30 minutes North which is the dividing line between slave and free states. California wants to join as a whole state, and with the ongoing gold rush, money talks. There is also a border dispute between Texas and the New Mexico territory. Daniel Webster makes his famous appeal to the moderates of the North and South and Henry Clay pushes a series of resolutions to reduce the size of Texas to its modern day borders in exchange for taking over Texas debt. The slavery question in the territories is left to the voters to decide, which will lead to bloody fights in the future between the new and old settlers on the question of slavery. Slave trading in Washington DC is abolished although slavery itself is not, and the Fugitive Slave Act is strengthened. With these compromises, war is averted, but only for a few years. When Kansas and Nebraska gear up to join the Union, the stuff will hit the fan again. This issue is not going away. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why didn't the Whigs just vote to make slavery illegal? Well... they were certainly powerful enough as a Party to do many things, but on the issue of slavery they were divided. Henry Clay, the leader of the Whigs, was a slave owner. His idea of slavery was more like indentured servitude. He believed that slavery could transition out in a generation or two as it did in Canada. But most people were either solid for slavery or solid against. Abolitionists saw the Constitution of the United States as a document of evil because it allowed slavery. Slavery was a stain on their soul that they wanted removed. No transition. No payment to slave owners. They didn't want to go to war to stop slavery. They just wanted it to stop. The extremes on both sides refused to compromise and the mushy-middle could only kick the can down the road. [3]

The Underground Railroad is Still Running

With the passing of a stricter Fugitive Slave Law, special commissions are set up that do not allow a fugitive to testify on his own behalf. No trial by jury is allowed. Penalties are assessed upon law officers who refuse to enforce the fugitive slave laws. The commissioner of these pseudo-courts is paid twice as much to rule against the fugitive than he is to rule on the fugitive's behalf. When this new law is challenged in various state courts it is often overturned, but the Supreme Court will uphold the practice. This new law is agitating the abolitionists so they step up their efforts to help slaves escape to free states and Canada. It is called the Underground Railroad, but it is actually any number of escape routes by road, or wagon, boat. Whatever it takes. Safe-houses along the way feed and house runaways until they can move on. One runaway slave is Harriet Tubman. She has been guiding slaves along the Underground Railroad over and over again, but with this new Fugitive Slave law she is extending the trip into Canada now. By all accounts Harriet Tubman is a making a difference, and in total she will guide about 70 runaway slaves to freedom. In the next ten years the use of the Underground will soar. That means a lot more people than Harriet will be breaking this law. [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a general rule that I've heard in many forms but it comes down to this: Do not make a law that people will not follow. Do not issue an order that will not be obeyed. Why? Because it encourages law-breaking and a breakdown of discipline. So, if you are going to pass a law, make sure that people understand it, so that they don't break it out of confusion, and make sure that it is a just law. Having the Supreme Court rule on the correctness of any law has become meaningless to me. They have been morally wrong so many times that I have stopped listening. And that is part of the problem. If I do not respect the lawmakers and those who rule on the law, then on the rare occasion when they are correct will I be paying attention? Probably not.

Yet Another Arctic Rescue Mission

Lady Franklin has asked for help to find her husband, Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin of the British Royal Navy. He was last seen on his mission to chart the Northwest Passage. He left with two ships, specially equipped with engines that not only propelled the ships but kept the men warm in the cold weather. They left with food for 3 years so it is possible they are still alive. The McClure Expedition is organized to look for Sir Franklin. The USS Advance also sets out to find him but both efforts will be fruitless. In a few years Dr. John Rae will ask some Inuit hunters about Sir Franklin and they will report that he and his crew left their ships and died of starvation on the ice. Apparently, they also resorted to cannibalism and when this report reaches Lady Franklin she will denounce Dr. Rea and so will most other people. Sir Franklin is considered a hero and he would never do anything so ignoble as eating his crew. Would he? (Actually, he can't. He is already dead, but don't tell Lady Franklin.) [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 2015 one of Sir Franklin's ships was found and then some of his dead crewmen. Some of them had saw marks on their bones. That means someone ate the crew. These type of expeditions often met with disaster, and then others expeditions would follow, looking for the first group... often urged on by a tearful wife of a member of the previous one. Franklin's expedition went wrong mostly due to bad food preservation. The contract for canned food was awarded to the lowest bidder at what must have been the last minute. The canned foods were sloppily sealed with lead and the lead seeped into the food. It caused lead poisoning. Lead poisoning leads to hallucinations, delirium, cognitive deficits (which means you think poorly) convulsions, seizures and a persistent case of dead. I am told symptoms will vary depending on the person. [10]

In Other News

  • San Francisco and Los Angeles are incorporated. California becomes the 31st state. Can your say "California Gold Rush?" I knew you could. [11] [12] [13]
  • American Express fast mail delivery service is founded. Henry Wells and William Fargo run the company. Hmmm... where have I heard the names Wells and Fargo before? [14] [15]
  • Pinkerton National Detective Agency is founded. Allan Pinkerton will make his name thwarting the attempted assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He'll miss the final attempt though. [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1850, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Webster's Seventh of March Speech and the Secession Movement, 1850. Gutenberg.org (2016). Retrieved on 15 August 2016. “When a skilled historian reopens the study of Webster's "Seventh of March speech" it is more than likely that nine out of ten Americans will have to cudgel their wits endeavoring to make quite sure just where among our political adventures that famous oration fits in. How many of us could pass a satisfactory examination on the antecedent train of events--the introduction in Congress of that Wilmot Proviso designed to make free soil of all the territory to be acquired in the Mexican War; the instant and bitter reaction of the South; the various demands for some sort of partition of the conquered area between the sections, between slave labor and free labor; the unforeseen intrusion of the gold seekers of California in 1849, and their unauthorized formation of a new state based on free labor; the flaming up of Southern alarm, due not to one cause but to many, chiefly to the obvious fact that the free states were acquiring preponderance in Congress; the southern threats of secession; the fury of the Abolitionists demanding no concessions to the South, come what might; and then, just when a rupture seemed inevitable, when Northern extremists and Southern extremists seemed about to snatch control of their sections, Webster's bold play to the moderates on both sides, his scheme of compromise, announced in that famous speech on the seventh of March, 1850?”
  2. Missouri Compromise - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “To balance the number of 'slave states' and 'free states,' the northern region of what was then Massachusetts, the District of Maine, ultimately gained admission into the United States as a free state to become Maine. This only occurred as a result of a compromise involving slavery in Missouri, and in the federal territories of the American west.[2] The admission of another slave state would increase the South's power at a time when northern politicians had already begun to regret the Constitution's Three-Fifths Compromise.”
  3. Compromise of 1850 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “The passage of the Fugitive Slave Law aroused feelings of bitterness in the North. Furthermore, the Compromise of 1850 led to a breakdown in the spirit of compromise in the United States in the antebellum period, directly before the Civil War. The Compromise exemplifies this spirit, but the deaths of influential senators who worked on the compromise, primarily Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, contributed to this feeling of increasing disparity between the North and South.”
  4. Ableman v. Booth - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “In 1854, abolitionist editor Sherman Booth was arrested for violating the Fugitive Slave Act[1] when he helped incite a mob to rescue an escaped slave, Joshua Glover, in Wisconsin from US Marshal Stephen V. R. Ableman. Booth sought a writ of habeas corpus from a Wisconsin state judge. The Wisconsin judge granted the writ, ordering Booth released from federal custody. The US Marshal appealed to the state supreme court, which ruled the federal law unconstitutional and affirmed Booth's release. When Ableman turned to the federal courts, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to recognize the authority of the federal courts, again ordered Booth's release, and declared the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional. The Wisconsin Supreme Court thereby attempted to annul the judgment of the federal court. Glover escaped to Canada, beyond the reach of Federal law enforcement.”
  5. Harriet Tubman - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “Over eleven years, Tubman returned repeatedly to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, rescuing some 70 slaves in about thirteen expeditions, including her three other brothers, Henry, Ben, and Robert, their wives and some of their children. She also provided specific instructions to 50 to 60 additional fugitives who escaped to the north. Tubman's dangerous work required tremendous ingenuity; she usually worked during winter months, to minimize the likelihood that the group would be seen. One admirer of Tubman said: 'She always came in the winter, when the nights are long and dark, and people who have homes stay in them.' Once she had made contact with escaping slaves, they left town on Saturday evenings, since newspapers would not print runaway notices until Monday morning.”
  6. 3 Major Ways Slaves Showed Resistance to Slavery. about.com (April 8, 2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “But most runaway slaves were on their own, especially while they were still in the South. Runaway slaves would often choose holidays or days off to give them extra lead time (before being missed in the fields or at work). Many fled on foot, coming up with ways to throw off dogs in pursuit, such as using pepper to disguise their scents. Some stole horses or even stowed away on ships to escape slavery.”
  7. McClure Arctic Expedition - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “The McClure Arctic Expedition of 1850, among numerous British search efforts to determine the fate of the Franklin's lost expedition, is distinguished as the voyage during which Robert McClure became the first person to confirm and transit the Northwest Passage by a combination of sea travel and sledging. McClure and his crew spent three years locked in the pack ice aboard HMS Investigator before abandoning it and making their escape across the ice.”
  8. John Franklin - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “In 1854, the Scottish explorer Dr. John Rae, while surveying the Boothia Peninsula for the Hudson's Bay Company, discovered the true fate of the Franklin party from talking to Inuit hunters. He was told both ships had become icebound, the men had tried to reach safety on foot but had succumbed to cold and some had resorted to cannibalism.”
  9. USS Advance (1847) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “The first USS Advance was a brigantine in the United States Navy which participated in an arctic rescue expedition. Advance was built in 1847 as Augusta in New Kent County, Virginia and loaned to the Navy on 7 May 1850 by Mr. Henry Grinnell to participate in the search for Sir John Franklin's arctic expedition which had been stranded in the frozen north since 1847.”
  10. Lead poisoning - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 August 2016. “Lead interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders including violence. Symptoms include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.”
  11. San Francisco : Government. (2016). Retrieved on 7 April 2016. “San Francisco was incorporated as a City on April 15th, 1850 by act of the Legislature.”
  12. Los Angeles - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 April 2016. “Historically home to the Chumash and Tongva, Los Angeles was claimed by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo for Spain in 1542 along with the rest of what would become Alta California. The city was officially founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.”
  13. California - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 7 April 2016. “Alta California became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence, but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was organized as the State of California, which was admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic change, with large-scale immigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.”
  14. History of Wells Fargo - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 13 August 2016. “From the beginning, the fledgling company offered diverse and mutually supportive services: general forwarding and commissions; buying and selling of gold dust, bullion, and specie (or coin); and freight service between New York and California. Under Morgan's and Barney's direction, express and banking offices were quickly established in key communities bordering the gold fields, and a network of freight and messenger routes was soon in place throughout California. Barney's policy of subcontracting express services to established companies, rather than duplicating existing services, was a key factor in Wells Fargo's early success.”
  15. American Express - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 13 August 2016. “In 1850, American Express was started as an express mail business in Buffalo, New York.[12] It was founded as a joint stock corporation by the merger of the express companies owned by Henry Wells (Wells & Company), William G. Fargo (Livingston, Fargo & Company), and John Warren Butterfield (Wells, Butterfield & Company, the successor earlier in 1850 of Butterfield, Wasson & Company).”
  16. Pinkerton (detective agency) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 13 August 2016. “Pinkerton, founded as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, is a private security guard and detective agency established in the United States by Allan Pinkerton in 1850 and currently a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln, who later hired Pinkerton agents for his personal security during the Civil War. Pinkerton's agents performed services ranging from security guarding to private military contracting work. Pinkerton was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world at the height of its power.”

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