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> Chapter 19 > Prepare for Class
Prepare For Class

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Chapter Summary


The acquisition of territory from Mexico created acute new dilemmas concerning the expansion of slavery, especially for the two major political parties, which had long tried to avoid the issue. The antislavery Free Soil party pushed the issue into the election of 1848. The application of gold-rich California for admission to the Union forced the controversy into the Senate, which engaged in stormy debates over slavery and the Union.

After the timely death of President Taylor, who had blocked a settlement, Congress resolved the crisis by passing the delicate Compromise of 1850. The compromise eased sectional tension for the moment, although the Fugitive Slave Law aroused opposition in the North.

As the Whig party died, the Democratic Pierce administration became the tool of proslavery expansionists. Controversies over Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Gadsden Purchase showed that expansionism was closely linked to the slavery issue.

The desire for a northern railroad route led Stephen Douglas to ram the Kansas-Nebraska Act through Congress in 1854. By repealing the Missouri Compromise and making new territory subject to popular sovereignty on slavery, this act aroused the fury of the North, sparked the rise of the Republican party, and set the stage for the Civil War.



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