Effects and Significance

Effects and Significance of the Compromise of 1850

The importance of the Compromise of 1850 lies on the continuation of peace achieved by the 1820 Missouri Compromise, despite sectional differences.  Views from the north and south were polarized but the Compromise of 1850 made them reach a temporary political equilibrium. It accomplished what it intended to achieve at the time, to revitalize the Union and peace. Most politicians knew that the compromise was a patchwork and that it was a temporary solution at best delaying the inevitable, Civil War.

In a game of give and take north and south were not satisfied with what they got. The south gained by the strengthening of the fugitive slave law, the north gained a new free state, California. Texas lost territory but was compensated with 10 million dollars to pay for its debt. Slave trade was prohibited in Washington DC, but slavery was not. Slavery was not restricted in the territories of Utah and New Mexico.

The Compromise of 1850 also allowed the United States to expand its territory by accepting California as a state. A territory rich in gold, agricultural products and other natural resources would create wealth and enrich the country as a whole. In order to transport goods and resources across the country Illinois Senator Stephen Douglass proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. His vision was to build a transcontinental railroad that would cross the country carrying larger quantities of goods from the west to the east with Illinois, his home state, as the eastern terminal.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was approved in 1854 and created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, allowing its residents to decide whether to allow slavery or not by popular sovereignty. The unintended consequence was a rush of pro slavery and antislavery supporters to Kansas to vote for slavery or its repeal. The act nullified the 1820 Missouri Compromise as Kansas had been officially a slavery free territory. The result was a civil war in Kansas known as Bleeding Kansas, which was to be a prelude to the American Civil War. The Republican Party was created in response to the act and became the leading party in the north. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican president of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln

The Republican Party was created on the platform of non-expansion of slavery and its repudiation as morally wrong. Abraham Lincoln was the first elected Republican President.

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