Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Compromise of 1850

As we have discussed, slavery was kind of a big deal. The North saw it as an evil institution, while the South saw it as a necessary one. In 1850 there were 15 free states and 15 slave states, but adding California to the union would upset the balance.

So, what should be done? Should California be let in as a free state? What about the balance of power? They decided to settle the disputing with a bare knuckle boxing match...

No, no, no, actually, they chose to do another compromise.

The Compromise of 1850 consisted of the following terms:

California would enter the Union as a free state (Yay for free states!), the residents in the organized territory in New Mexico would decide if they would allow slavery or not, Utah would be set up the same way. This could be a big yay or a big boo to the free states.

The Fugitive Slave Act was passed. This put really harsh punishment on people who helped escaped slaves or refused to help capture them. And finally, the slave trade in Washington D.C. was banned, it sort of looked bad when the Capital of the country was used for selling off slaves...

So now that this compromise was settled, everything went smoothly until the end of time.

But really, it didn't...this was just the beginning...

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Mexican-American War

Texas functioned as a republic for 9 years while the United States talked of annexing it. Mexico warned the U.S. that if they annexed Texas, it would be a declaration of war.

So, naturally, Texas was annexed to the United States and Mexico wasn't very happy.

Polk was a huge fan of Manifest Destiny as we know, not only was Texas important for this idea, but he also wanted the land in between Texas and the Pacific coast, this land also belonged to Mexico.

Polk sent a messenger named John Slidell to Mexico to offer money for the land. When Slidell got there, no one would talk to him.

Slidell returned to the United States a very unhappy guy. He told Polk that the Mexicans need to be punished, then he laughed manically.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, there was a boarder dispute. Polk sent General Zachary Taylor down to keep his eye on things.

Taylor's men got into a bit of a fight with a group of Mexicans.

Even though the boarder between the United States and Mexico was in dispute, Polk used this incident to ask for a declaration of war on Mexico, even though a young member of the House of Representatives from Illinois questioned this action. He wasn't buying that Mexico had breached the boarder and wanted to know the exact spot where the skirmish broke out. This became known as the Spot Resolution, and that young representative was Abraham Lincoln, you will hear more about him later.

Despite Lincoln's Spot Resolution the Mexican-American War was on.

General Stephen Kearny left from Kansas and easily made it to New Mexico, he was kicking butt and taking names.

While Kearny was headed for California, a group of Americans declared California independent. They even had their own flag!

It had a bear on it, so it was cleverly dubbed The Bear Flag Revolt.

California was now in American hands as was New Mexico and another General, Winfield Scott decided to go straight for the heart.

General Scott led an army into Mexico City and captured it. After this, the Mexicans realized they couldn't win so they handed over the land and President Polk was happy.