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The Compromise of 1850 as Introduced by Senator Henry Clay, January 29, 1850

To preserve the Union, Clay’s compromise proposed to bring California into the Union as a free state; allow the New Mexico Territory to decide the slavery issue for itself; and retain slavery in the District of Columbia but abolish its slave trade. It would also enact a stronger fugitive slave law (requiring free states to return escaped slaves to their owners), and settle the Texas boundary and debt issues. These provisions later passed as separate measures.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

The Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850 The Compromise of 1850

Preserving the Union - 2

The Missouri Compromise of 1820, which admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state, temporarily solved the divisive issue of slavery’s spread to the western territories. The issue continued, however, to flare up in Congress until the Civil War. In 1850, Senator Henry Clay sought another compromise to preserve the Union and avoid war. The most famous debate in the history of the Senate ensued between Senators John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster over Clay’s proposals. It was the last debate among these three giants of the Senate.