I'm planning on switching to IEW for composition after Alex's writing course is over next week. We were talking about the Compromise of 1850 in her history class today and I decided to try using an IEW outline to recreate an essay about it. I found an article at PBS that I liked and used it to create my outline.
After creating the outline, I used it to rewrite the essay in my own words. I understand the Compromise much better after this exercise! What a wonderful way for children (and adults!) to understand a topic better...by creating an outline and rewriting an essay yourself!
So, here's my essay:
The Compromise of 1850
Henry Clay was determined to find a solution to the slavery issue. In 1820, his participation in the debate over the issue led to the creation of the Missouri Compromise. Thirty years later, the issue surfaced again at the Capitol. This time, the stakes were higher. The unity of the nation was in jeopardy.
There were several points that needed to be considered.
First of all, the Union had recently acquired a vast amount of new territory from Mexico. Should they be allowed in as a slave state or a free state? Or should the inhabitants be allowed to decide for themselves?
Secondly, California had recently had a population explosion as a result of the gold rush. They were petitioning to be allowed to enter the Union as a free state. But, ever since the Missouri Compromise, the number of slave and free states had been held in balance. Should California be allowed to enter as a free state and upset this delicate balance?
A third issue to be considered was the dispute over Texas’ claim that their territory extended all of the way to Santa Fe.
And, the fourth issue was that Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, had the largest slave market on the North American continent.
So, in 1850, Henry Clay offered a compromise. For eight months Clay debated with Daniel Webster and John J. Calhoun. With help from Stephen Douglass, the compromise was presented.
As part of the compromise Texas would relinquish some of its land, but they would also receive ten million dollars which they could use to pay off some of their debt to Mexico. New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah were organized with no mention of the slave issue. The slave trade was abolished in D.C., but slavery would continue. And, California was admitted as a free state. To pacify this imbalance between the number of slave states and the number of free states, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.
The Fugitive Slave Act was the most controversial part of the Missouri Compromise of 1850. This Act required citizens to assist in the capture of escaped slaves. Escaped slaves were denied a jury trial and the commissioners in charge of the trials were given more money if they returned the slaves to the South. Also, the Act made it easier to file claims against escaped slaves. And, it guaranteed more federal help in enforcing these laws.
For slaves in the North, the Fugitive Slave Act was a disaster. Many of those slaves fled to Canada. During the next 10 years, about 20,000 blacks fled to Canada. Many slaves were captured and returned to the South. And, even free blacks were captured and taken South. Blacks had no legal rights.
The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act increased the resolve of abolitionists. The Underground Railroad reached its peak from 1850 to 1860. This also brought the topic of slavery to the forefront in the nation. Many who had been ambivalent about slavery were now against it.
The Compromise of 1850 had set out to keep the country united. And, it accomplished this goal, but only temporarily. A decade later, the country was further divided. The rift between the North and the South continued to grow until it finally divided.
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